What is Agriculture: Definition and 16 Discussions

Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities. The history of agriculture began thousands of years ago. After gathering wild grains beginning at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers began to plant them around 11,500 years ago. Pigs, sheep, and cattle were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world. Industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on subsistence agriculture.
Modern agronomy, plant breeding, agrochemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers, and technological developments have sharply increased crop yields, while causing widespread ecological and environmental damage. Selective breeding and modern practices in animal husbandry have similarly increased the output of meat, but have raised concerns about animal welfare and environmental damage. Environmental issues include contributions to global warming, depletion of aquifers, deforestation, antibiotic resistance, and growth hormones in industrial meat production. Agriculture is both a cause of and sensitive to environmental degradation, such as biodiversity loss, desertification, soil degradation and global warming, all of which can cause decreases in crop yield. Genetically modified organisms are widely used, although some are banned in certain countries.
The major agricultural products can be broadly grouped into foods, fibers, fuels and raw materials (such as rubber). Food classes include cereals (grains), vegetables, fruits, oils, meat, milk, fungi and eggs. Over one-third of the world's workers are employed in agriculture, second only to the service sector, although in recent decades, the global trend of a decreasing number of agricultural workers continues, especially in developing countries where smallholding is being overtaken by industrial agriculture and mechanization.

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  1. imotta

    Earth's Rotation & Global Agriculture: Impact & Possibilities

    How much will this phenomenon affect the Earth's rotation? Is it possible that the change in the Earth's rotation movement will significantly affect agricultural production on a global scale, for example?
  2. prashantakerkar

    Isotope applications in Agriculture industry

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotope Can Isotopes be useful to Agriculture industry viz Fertilizers & Instecticides manufacturing? Thanks & Regards, Prashant S Akerkar
  3. P

    How will cheap energy affect the economy?

    I've been following a lot of news and articles about various technologies potentially providing abundant energy at dirt cheap prices. I don't want to advocate about any single technology that will provide cheap and abundant energy; however, it is becoming more and more clear that renewables will...
  4. B

    How does cotton agriculture cause soil exhaustion?

    I remember reading recently that in the Antebellum American South, part of the reason that white southerners wanted to expand slavery westward is that cotton agriculture would cause soil exhaustion. After growing cotton on a given piece of land for a few years, the soil would be degraded in...
  5. M

    The impact of desertification and dust storms on agriculture

    Hello all, Could desertification exacerbate dust storms so much, and thereby destroy agriculture on earth? (due to the drop in temperature and sunlight) Also, under what kind of circumstances would desertification spread so much so that all plants on Earth would become extinct? If such a thing...
  6. Dotini

    History The Spread of Agriculture in the Ancient World

    The following are, at the top, photos of certain artifacts repatriated from a western museum to Iran, originally excavated from Jiroft, Iran. They are said to date from the 3rd millennium BC. Essentially identical objects are found dating to 12,000 BC at Gobekli Tepe, Turkey, 3rd millennium BC...
  7. T

    Engineering Advice for Mech. Eng. Grad Looking to be Landscape or Ag. Engineer

    studying mech engineering but want to be landscape architect or agriculture engineer Next year I will graduate with a bs. in mechanical engineering, what advice can you give me if i want to become a landscape architect or an agricultural engineer( courses i can take ,or ways i can squeeze into...
  8. atyy

    Is Rivasseau switching to agriculture?

    No more quantum gravity :smile: As we know strings and loops are both about condensed matter (AdS/CMT, tensor networks). So these guys want to apply their skills to real world problems too and grow melons. I think the back-up plan for the people who cloned the potassium channel, if the...
  9. B

    War and agriculture: historical relationship

    Without knowing much specific war history, it seems to be common knowledge that war was often used for imperialist economic purposes in the past. Presumably, the winning army would either kill any surviving opponents and take their land and property or enslave them. My question is whether...
  10. W

    Simulating Soil Moisture with Temperature in Clay-Based Agriculture

    Hi all, I'm not sure if this is the right thread to post this topic. I want to simulate soil moisture and how much it decreases given a certain temperature. For example at temperature 25 degrees Celsius , what is the rate of decrease of the soil moisture? The kind of soil is clay suitable...
  11. K

    Application of nuclear physics in agriculture

    I am looking for appliction of nuclear physics in agriculture. i have actually found that it is mostly used in Genetically modified crops. These are modified in order to allow them to resist to some change of climat or to adapt a certain region. My problem now is that i did not find used...
  12. wolram

    Agriculture at a Crossroads: Invest Now or Risk Long-Term Crisis

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080919142548.htm — Declining agricultural productivity and continued growing demand have brought the world food situation to a crossroads. Failure to act now through a wholesale reinvestment in agriculture—including research into improved...
  13. F

    Pre-historic humans, agriculture and civilization development

    The oldest human found is 150,000 or 160,000 years old, if I recall correctly. It strikes me that "civilization" (farming, large structures, etc) is < 10,000 years old(?). Is this because there simply weren't enough of us in a concentrated area to establish one? Supposedly civilization...
  14. J

    Avg Distance Truck Travels in Corn Field of Area n

    Picture this: Corn is planted in a large circle of area n. A truck drives from a negligibly small processing plant in the center of the field to collect the corn and bring it back to the plant. What is the average distance that the truck carrying the corn would have to travel in this case?
  15. S

    Industrialized and traditional subsistence agriculture

    I am a bit confused with two types of agriculture, industrialized and traditional subsistence agriculture. In subsistence agriculture, is one type of crop usually grown? Or is it the former one? Also, is it true that loss of biodiversity limits green-revolution approaches? On a relevant note...
  16. N

    Why agriculture and animal husbandry?

    In the thread Why this is still Amerikkka, there is a lively discussion of the extent to which many sub-Saharan countries are still economically undeveloped as a result of the genes of their inhabitants, the extent to which those genes are responsible for agriculture and sedantry animal...