Portal:Agriculture

The Agriculture Portal

Ploughing rice paddies with water buffalo, in Indonesia.
Harvesting wheat with a combine harvester accompanied by a tractor and trailer

Agriculture is the science and art 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 into the twenty-first. [citation needed]

Modern agronomy, plant breeding, agrochemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers, and technological developments have sharply increased 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. 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 the number of agricultural workers in developed countries has decreased significantly over the centuries.

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Alberta modern cement grain elevator 034.jpg
(Pictured left: A modern cement grain elevator in Alberta, Canada)

Canada is one of the largest agricultural producers and exporters in the world. As with other developed nations, the proportion of the population and GDP devoted to agriculture fell dramatically over the 20th century but it remains an important element of the Canadian economy.

A wide range of agriculture is practiced in Canada, from sprawling wheat fields of the prairies to summer produce of the Okanagan valley. In the federal government, overview of Canadian agriculture is the responsibility of the department of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Agriculture in Canada comprises five main agricultural production sectors of commodity production resulting in farm cash receipts from both domestic and foreign markets.

Horticulture which includes garden crops, and fruits became easier to grow with the development of plant hardiness zones.

Apples, pears, plums and prunes, peaches, apricots, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, loganberries and fruit orchards are numerous and reach commercial size in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Niagara Peninsula and Norfolk County of Ontario and Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.

Hazelnuts are harvested in Eastern Canada and British Columbia. Maple syrup and maple sugar, maple butter, and maple taffy are products of Quebec along the St. Lawrence River. The main market for Canadian maple syrup and sugar is the United States. Potatoes are an abundant harvest of the Maritime provinces. Sugar beets and beet root sugar are harvested in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta.

115,000 cattle roamed the southern prairies by 1900. Livestock can include the raising of cows, also commonly called cattle. Recently domestication of the buffalo and elk has initiated a new food industry. Sheep have been raised for both wool and meat. Bovine or pig barns have been a part of livestock culture. Scientists have been making forward steps in swine research giving rise to intensive pig farming. The domestication of various farm animals meant that corresponding industries such as feedlots, animal husbandry and meat processing have also been studied, and developed.

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Sustainable agriculture

Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term:

Sustainable agriculture in the United States was addressed by the 1990 farm bill.[2] More recently, as consumer and retail demand for sustainable products has risen, organizations such as Food Alliance and Protected Harvest have started to provide measurement standards and certification programs for what constitutes a sustainably grown crop.[3]

  1. ^ Gold, M. (July 2009). What is Sustainable Agriculture?. United States Department of Agriculture, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
  2. ^ Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (FACTA), Public Law 101-624, Title XVI, Subtitle A, Section 1603
  3. ^ Organic and non-GMO Report. New certification programs aim to encourage sustainable farming.

Categories: Sustainable agriculture, Sustainability

Did you know...

...wheat was a key factor enabling the emergence of city-based societies at the start of civilization because it was one of the first crops that could be easily cultivated on a large scale, and had the additional advantage of yielding a harvest that provides long-term storage of food?
Other "Did you know" facts... Read more...

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