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Industrialized and traditional subsistence agriculture

  1. Mar 12, 2005 #1
    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, I would think monoculture of newly developed plants leading to greater plant diversity is false.

    Thanks for any help. :smile:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2005 #2

    iansmith

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    Subsistence agriculture is more than one types of crop produced at a small scale. It is there to meet the needed of the person that grows the crops or small community.

    Industrilized agriculture is on a larger scale and a few (2 to 3) crops will be produce by the farmer but there will be a diversity of the type of crop available. The number of the crop will depend on the size of the farm. This type of agriculture is there to meet he needs a large community.

    As far as biodiversity goes, the problem with new plants/variety is that it is there to replace the older crop. For example, several variety of water melons and canteloupe where available at the begining of the 20th century untill world war II; however, nowadays only a few variety are avaible in the market place. Several melon variety were drop because it did not handle transportation well compare to the variety available today. Same goes with the cows, there is basicly one major breed seen today selected because it produced alot more milk compare to other species. Several breeds have gone instinct. Several farmers are also trying to save some breed that are less popular.
     
  4. Apr 15, 2005 #3

    Ouabache

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    Biodiversity is important when considering resistance to diseases. If there are areas where the wild varieties of the plants or animals still exist, you are more likely to find a few that have resistance to disease there (because of the diverse gene pool).

    In the Andes mountains of Peru and Bolivia farmers grow not one variety of potato but several (some white, red, black ones). Each of them have some qualities that allow a good harvest. In a dry year the drought resistant ones will yield more, in a wet year those plants that don't mind less oxygen in their root zone yield more. Similarly for resistance to diseases and insect damage one variety will have a higher resistance to specific diseases than another. So maintaining biodiversity is an advantage to successful agriculture.

    Ian, I hear what you are saying about having fewer varieties. That is true. But even though seed manufactures offer fewer varieties, there are many farmers and gardeners who maintain heirloom (older) varieties. Some specialty seedgrowers even sell them ---> http://www.heirloomseeds.com

    As far as 'milk cows' go, here in north america we have Holstein-Friesian, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, and Jersey cows. Each are raised for different needs, example Hosteins may have larger milk production but they are also larger animals and require more feed, Guernsey cows are smaller and produce a higher-butterfat and higher-protein milk.

    SC, you are right a monoculture of varieties of domestic plants does not lead to greater diversity. I am not sure what you mean by limits green-revolution appoaches
     
  5. Apr 16, 2005 #4

    Moonbear

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    Those are different breeds, but are still all the same species Bos taurus. Some people still breed Bos indicus (i.e., Brahman) as a heat-tolerant beef breed, but with Angus being desired by consumers and growing larger with better carcass quality, there are far fewer cattle operations that are purely raising Bos indicus.
     
  6. Apr 16, 2005 #5

    Ouabache

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    Bossy

    Absolutely, I hadn't even touched on beef cattle. I didn't know Brahman are a different species. I'm not familiar with their Linnaeun naming. I suppose that's why some cows were named Bossy

    Well, the question raised was about losing biodiversity and the raising of different breeds of dairy cows an example that, at least in No. America, we haven't narrowed their gene pool as much as Ian described. We understand he meant to say extinct. I would have figured bovine in their naming somewhere, maybe Family. I like that they used taurus in there. Isn't that also Latin for "bull"? I wonder what is Latin for "cow" :biggrin:
     
  7. Apr 17, 2005 #6

    iansmith

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    Ouabache,

    Although there several different breed on the "market", the holstein represent over 85% of the milk-producing cow in canada. Also, there was this bull in called Starbuck. This bull made his career during the 80s and the 90s and he has an estimated 200 000 daughters in over 50 countries. They have sperm supply for next 25 years and they clone the bull.
    http://www.ciaq.com/commcloneangl.htm

    An example of breed that also went extinct, la Vache canadienne imported from Normandy by early settlers and it produce extra- rich milk that's ideal for making specialty cheese. Only a few producer have this breed and they are having problem getting offspring.

    The Ark of Taste that has directory of Slow Food's endangered foods or species and the directory has over 300 species registered.
    http://www.slowfoodusa.org/ark/

    I think the genetic diversity for most of the mass agricultural production is quite low.
     
  8. Apr 17, 2005 #7

    Moonbear

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    Iansmith was accurate in saying we have one predominant species of cattle. That was what I was pointing out. Despite having a few different breeds, there are only two species, and one of those species is quite minor compared to the other.

    Iansmith is also correct in his statement that we have greatly reduced the genetic variety within those breeds through selective breeding and artificial insemination. This is especially true among Holstein-Friesians, which are the predominant dairy breed. The dairy breeds are especially in trouble; despite all the advances in technology, their fertility is decreasing and we don't know if this is a genetic problem due to selection for other traits like high milk yield and docility.

    As for the source of "bovine," they are family Bovidae, but that also includes sheep and goats and antelopes, and the subfamily Bovinae, which includes in addition to domestic cattle, species such as bison, yaks, buffalo and kudu.
     
  9. Apr 18, 2005 #8

    Ouabache

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    Sounds like I inadverdantly raised a few danders, sorry :redface:

    I do agree that modern agricultural methods are narrowing biodiversity. As Ian and MB have both alluded, there are serious concerns with that.
    The same problems raised here with cattle, are even more prominant in food crops. A good example is when growers across the midwest U.S. planted predominantly a single cultivar of corn (Zea mays), because it was the highest yielding variety and any advantantage to get more bushels/acre allow them to stay ahead in their market. This variety did not happen to have any resistance to a race of Northern Corn Leaf Blight caused by the pathogen Exserohilum turcicum and within the season, across the midwest millions of acres of corn failed. They learned a hard lesson. They needed to increase the biodiversity of what they put in their fields in order to have a reasonable chance for a harvest.

    Unfortunately they (and many other domesticated animal and plant growers) still do not fully grasp the wisdom of the indigenous potato farmers in the Andes mountains of Peru. A typical Andean farmer plants from 250-300 varieties of potato on a single plot. And they choose from 1500 local cultivars. They certainly would not lose their crop to a race of pathogen.
     
  10. Apr 19, 2005 #9
    Not to say that all subsistence farmers are models of biodiversity. It was lack of biodiversity that led to some two million Irish subsistence farmers to starve to death.
     
  11. Apr 19, 2005 #10
    Wouldn't this be a good place where the saying "Anything in moderation" would fit nicely? Also depends on what crop you are talking about because sometimes biodiversity is not recomended. I can't think of anything right off the top of my head. Back to the cows: are their cows who produce milk that is lower in lactose than other cows :rolleyes:. I mean strickly cows. Not goats or any other animal used for milking.
     
  12. Apr 19, 2005 #11

    iansmith

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  13. Apr 19, 2005 #12

    Ouabache

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    Quite true.. That's actually a similar story as the Northern Corn Leaf Blight.. The potatoes not only in Ireland but across Europe, were susceptible to potato blight caused by Phytopthera infestans In two successive wet seasons, the harvests were devastated..

    I don't think they had all the cultivars available in Europe as the Peruvians do.. That area in So American is a "center of diversity" for potato, They originated there. There is a good chance you will find a few varieties there that confer at least some resistance to potato blight.

    Anything in moderation.. Yes in hindsight, those potato farmers across Europe, should have planted some small plots of other crops (like oats, rye, beans). We can at least try and learn from the past..
     
  14. Apr 19, 2005 #13
    Agreed. I think that is a large part of the science involved with trying to genetically alter the plants. To make them less suseptable to disease.
     
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