Najranija zemljoradnička područja otkrivena su na Bliskom istoku: u Mesopotamiji, na planin Zagros, Anadoliji (današnjoj Turskoj), severnoj Siriji i pored reke Jordana. Na ovim područjima zemljoradnja se pojavila pre oko 10.000 godina. Kasnije je obrada zemlje počela i u drugim oblastima - u severnoj kineskoj niziji, dolini reke Ind, jugoistočnoj Aziji, Sahari, dolini Nila i delovima Severne i Južne Amerike, zavisno od biljaka i životinja koje su postojale u regionu. U starom Egiptu uzgajali su Lan, pšenicu i ječam i proizvodili pivo fermentacijom žita, kao i grožđa za vino, koje su gnječili, a sok ostavljali u velikim ćupovima da fermentira. U Evropi je zemljoradnja počela u jugoistočnim delovima i postepeno se širila poboljšanjem klime. U starom Rimu uzgajani su pšenica, raž i ječam, kao i masline i grožđe. U staroj Kini, na severu, pored Žute reke, gajili su proso, a na jugu pirinač čije je uzgajanje poboljšano građenjem kanala za navodnjavanje. Američki domoroci uzgajali su kukuruz, a kasnije su kultivisali tikvu i pasulj. U Sahari su gajeni lan, pirinač i proso. Oko 700. godine uveden je sistem rotacije zemljoradničkih kultura na tri polja. Svake godine seljaci su sejali žito na jednom polju, povrće na drugom, a treće polje se obrađivalo da bi vratilo plodnost. Drugi glavni napredak bio je pronalazak rala sa točkovima.
ETYM Latin agricultura; ager field + cultura cultivation: cf. French agriculture. Related to Acre and Culture.
The class of people engaged in growing food.
The practice of farming, including the cultivation of the soil (for raising crops) and the raising of domesticated animals. Crops are for human nourishment, animal fodder, or commodities such as cotton and sisal. Animals are raised for wool, milk, leather, dung (as fuel), or meat. The units for managing agricultural production vary from small holdings and individually owned farms to corporate-run farms and collective farms run by entire communities.
Agriculture developed in the Middle East and Egypt at least 10,000 years ago. Farming communities soon became the base for society in China, India, Europe, Mexico, and Peru, then spread throughout the world. The open-field system was prevalent in Europe during Saxon times and for long afterwards. Reorganization along more scientific and productive lines took place in Europe in the 18th century with improved crop rotation and the agricultural revolution).
Mechanization made considerable progress in the US and Europe during the 19th century. After World War II, there was an explosive growth in the use of agricultural chemicals: herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and fertilizers. In the 1960s there was development of high-yielding species, especially in the green revolution of the Third World, and the industrialized countries began intensive farming of cattle, poultry, and pigs. In the 1980s, hybridization by genetic engineering methods and pest control by the use of chemicals plus pheromones were developed. However, there was also a reaction against some forms of intensive agriculture because of the pollution and habitat destruction caused. One result of this was a growth of alternative methods, including organic agriculture.
For plant products, the land must be prepared (plowing, cultivating, harrowing, and rolling). Seed must be planted and the growing plant nurtured. This may involve fertilizers, irrigation, pest control by chemicals, and monitoring of acidity or nutrients. When the crop has grown, it must be harvested and, depending on the crop, processed in a variety of ways before it is stored or sold.
Greenhouses allow cultivation of plants that would otherwise find the climate too harsh. Hydroponics allows commercial cultivation of crops using nutrient-enriched solutions instead of soil. Special methods, such as terracing, may be adopted to allow cultivation in hostile terrain and to retain topsoil in mountainous areas with heavy rainfall.
Animals may be semidomesticated, such as reindeer, or fully domesticated but nomadic (where naturally growing or cultivated food supplies are sparse), or kept in one location. Animal farming involves accommodation (buildings, fencing, or pasture), feeding, breeding, gathering the produce (eggs, milk, or wool), slaughtering, and further processing such as tanning.
From the 1970s there has been a movement toward more sophisticated natural methods without chemical sprays and fertilizers. These methods are desirable because nitrates have been seeping into the ground water, insecticides are found in lethal concentrations at the top of the food chain, some herbicides are associated with human birth defects, and hormones fed to animals to promote fast growth have damaging effects on humans.
The greater efficiency in agriculture achieved since the 19th century, coupled with post–World War II government subsidies for domestic production in the US and the European Union (EU), have led to the development of high stocks, nicknamed “lakes” (wine, milk) and “mountains” (butter, beef, grain). There is no simple solution to this problem, as any large-scale dumping onto the market displaces regular merchandise. Increasing concern about the starving and the cost of storage has led the US and the EU to develop measures for limiting production, such as letting arable land lie fallow to reduce grain crops. The US had some success at selling surplus wheat to the USSR when the Soviet crop was poor, but the overall cost of bulk transport and the potential destabilization of other economies has acted against high producers exporting their excess on a regular basis to needy countries. Intensive farming methods also contribute to soil erosion and water pollution.
1. The control or judicious use of resources; conservation
2. The cultivation or production of plants or animals; agriculture
3. The scientific control and management of a branch of farming and especially of domestic animals