Farming is growing crops or keeping animals by people for food and raw materials. Farming is a part of agriculture.
Agriculture started thousands of years ago, but no one knows for sure how old it is. The development of farming gave rise to the Neolithic Revolution whereby people gave up nomadichunting and became settlers in what became cities.
Agriculture and domestication probably started in the Fertile Crescent (the Nile Valley, The Levant and Mesopotamia). The area called Fertile Crescent is now in the countries of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt. Wheat and barley are some of the first crops people grew. People probably started agriculture slowly by planting a few crops, but still gathered many foods from the wild. People may have started farming because the weather and soil began to change. Farming can feed many more people than hunter-gatherers can feed on the same amount of land.
Kinds of farming[change | change source]
Agriculture is not only growing food for people and animals, but also growing other things like flowers and nurseryplants, manure or dung, animal hides (skins or furs), leather, animals, fungi, fibers (cotton, wool, hemp, and flax), biofuels , and drugs (biopharmaceuticals, marijuana, opium).
Many people still live by subsistence agriculture, on a small farm. They can only grow enough food to feed the farmer, his family, and his animals. The yield is the amount of food grown on a given amount of land, and it is often low. This is because subsistence farmers are generally less educated, and they have less money to buy equipment. Drought and other problems sometimes cause famines. Where yields are low, deforestation can provide new land to grow more food. This provides more nutrition for the farmer's family, but can be bad for the country and the surrounding environment over many years.
In rich countries, farms are often fewer and larger. During the 20th century they have become more productive because farmers are able to grow better varieties of plants, use more fertilizer, use more water, and more easily control weeds and pests. Many farms also use machines, so fewer people can farm more land. There are fewer farmers in rich countries, but the farmers are able to grow more.
This kind of intensive agriculture comes with its own set of problems. Farmers use a lot of chemical fertilizers, pesticides (chemicals that kill bugs), and herbicides (chemicals that kill weeds). These chemicals can pollute the soil or the water. They can also create bugs and weeds that are more resistant to the chemicals, causing outbreaks of these pests. The soil can be damaged by erosion (blowing or washing away), salt buildup, or loss of structure. Irrigation (adding water from rivers) can pollute water and lower the water table. These problems have all got solutions, and modern young farmers usually have a good technical education.
Agriculture techniques[change | change source]
Farmers select plants with better yield, taste, and nutritional value. They also choose plants that can survive plant disease and drought, and are easier to harvest. Centuries of artificial selection and breeding have had enormous effects on the characteristics of crop plants. The crops produce better yield with other techniques (use of fertilizers, chemical pest control, irrigation).
Some companies have been searching for new plants in poor countries, and genetically modify these plants to improve them. They then try to patent the seeds and sell them back to the poor countries.
New plants were created with genetic engineering. One example of genetic engineering is modifying a plant to resist a herbicide.
Food[change | change source]
It is important for there to be enough food for everyone. The food must also be safe and good. People say it is not always safe, because it contains some chemicals. Other people say intensive agriculture is damaging the environment. For this reason, there are several types of agriculture.
- Traditional agriculture is mostly done in poor countries.
- Intensive agriculture is mostly done in countries with more money. It uses pesticides, machinery, chemical fertilizers.
- Organic farming is using only natural products such as compost and green manure.
- Integrated farming is using local resources, and trying to use the waste from one process as a resource in another process.
Agricultural policy focuses on the goals and methods of agricultural production. At the policy level, common goals of agriculture include:
Problems in agriculture[change | change source]
There are some serious problems that people face trying to grow food today. These include:
Crops[change | change source]
The major crops produced in the world in 2002, are maize (corn), wheat, rice, and cotton.
- Maize 624 millions of metric tons
- Wheat 570 millions of metric tons
- Rice 381.1 millions of metric tons
- Cotton 96.5 millions of metric tons
See also: List of vegetables, List of herbs, List of fruit
Related pages[change | change source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Farming.|
References[change | change source]
- ↑Colin Tudge argues "from at least 40,000 years ago... people were managing their environment to such an extent that they can properly be called 'proto-farmers'". Tudge, Colin 1998. Neanderthals, bandits and farmers: how agriculture really began. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, p3. ISBN 0-297-84258-7
- ↑Harris, David (ed) 1996. The origins and spread of agriculture and pastoralism in Eurasia: crops, fields, flocks and herds. University College London Press. ISBN 1-56098-675-1
For almost 10 years, June and John Strothenke have been living on their small farm in Interior Alaska, raising goats, rabbits, chickens and cows. But now, it's time for a change.
A few months ago, the couple came to a sudden decision that, between health and job stresses, they needed to move on.
"Maybe it's time for us to spend a little more time with the family … and a little less on the farm," John Strothenke said.
So they're putting their home on the market, but with a twist. There will be no Realtor. Only an essay and a $1,000 entry fee. Write the winning essay, and the farm is yours.
It was June's idea, her husband said. Look around online, and you'll find stories of other properties put on the market via essay contest, she said. She didn't want to go the traditional route, with all the red tape of a typical sale. This seemed like a good option.
Now, anybody interested in the farm has a shot, if they can pay the fee and answer a simple prompt: "Why I would like to own a hobby farm in Fairbanks, Alaska."
The couple says they've put a lot of work into the 5-acre property off Chena Hot Springs Road, northwest of the center of Fairbanks. They just put in new windows. John Strothenke said he'll continue renovating the house as though they weren't leaving.
Wanting a healthier, sustainable lifestyle, they moved into the property in 2008. They started the farm with chickens, and it expanded from there. Eventually, most of their food came from the land.
"We were doing eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, honey, meat of all different varieties, everything that comes from the ground and garden," John Strothenke listed off.
They loved the work, but the days began at 4:30 a.m. and lasted until 10 p.m., John Strothenke said.
In the property description, they describe a four-bedroom home, a two-story barn, and large woodshed and carport, as well as other sheds used for livestock.
There's no mortgage on the property, and annual property taxes are around $5,000, they write.
The couple figures they need about 370 essays to make the contest financially viable. They will allow only 420 entries total — so the odds of winning are relatively good, they said.
For entry advice, June Strothenke said people should "thoughtfully (put) their heart in their essay. Because I think that's what's going to stand out to us as the initial judges."
The pair will choose the top 20 essays. As for the winner, that will be decided by three judges who have not yet been chosen.
"I would love for, you know, somebody, maybe a younger person who's got a small family," to own the farm, John Strothenke said.
First National Bank Alaska is handling the entries and money. The bank will send the essays to the couple, with all names removed, so that each one is anonymous. On Thursday, the couple wasn't sure if any entries were submitted yet.
If it goes well, they'll make back the cost of the house and some profit, John Strothenke said. If the essay contest doesn't pan out, they'll sell conventionally and all entry fees will be returned, they said.
The couple hopes to retire to upstate New York, where they are both originally from, and where family now lives. Both said they never thought they'd leave Alaska.
They have no regrets coming here, John Strothenke said. But he said he might regret leaving.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to the First National Bank of Alaska. The bank's name is First National Bank Alaska.