The Agriculture Portal

Ploughing rice paddies with water buffalo, in Indonesia.
Ploughing rice paddies with water buffalo, in Indonesia.

Agriculture encompasses crop and livestock production, aquaculture, fisheries, and forestry for food and non-food products. 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. While humans started gathering grains at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers only began planting them around 11,500 years ago. Sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle were domesticated around 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world. In the 20th century, industrial agriculture based on large-scale monocultures came to dominate agricultural output.

, small farms produce about one-third of the world's food, but large farms are prevalent. The largest 1% of farms in the world are greater than 50 hectares (120 acres) and operate more than 70% of the world's farmland. Nearly 40% of agricultural land is found on farms larger than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres). However, five of every six farms in the world consist of fewer than 2 hectares (4.9 acres), and take up only around 12% of all agricultural land. Farms and farming greatly influence rural economics and greatly shape rural society, effecting both the direct agricultural workforce and broader businesses that support the farms and farming populations.

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, cooking oils, meat, milk, eggs, and fungi. Global agricultural production amounts to approximately 11 billion tonnes of food, 32 million tonnes of natural fibres and 4 billion m3 of wood. However, around 14% of the world's food is lost from production before reaching the retail level.

Modern agronomy, plant breeding, agrochemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers, and technological developments have sharply increased crop yields, but also contributed to 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 climate change, depletion of aquifers, deforestation, antibiotic resistance, and other agricultural pollution. Agriculture is both a cause of and sensitive to environmental degradation, such as biodiversity loss, desertification, soil degradation, and climate change, all of which can cause decreases in crop yield. Genetically modified organisms are widely used, although some countries ban them. (Full article...)

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Soy field in Argentina's fertile pampas. The versatile legume makes up about half the nation's crop production and a fourth of its exports.
Soy field in Argentina's fertile pampas. The versatile legume makes up about half the nation's crop production and a fourth of its exports.
Agriculture is one of the bases of Argentina's economy. Argentine agriculture is relatively capital intensive, today providing about 7% of all employment and, even during its period of dominance around 1900, accounting for no more than a third of all labor. Having accounted for 20% of GDP as late as 1959, it adds, directly, less than 10% today; however, agricultural goods, whether raw or processed, still earn over half of Argentina's foreign exchange and, arguably, remain an indispensable pillar of the country's social progress and economic prosperity.

An estimated 10-15% of argentinian farmland is foreign owned.

In 2007, more than one fifth of Argentine exports of about US$56 billion were composed of unprocessed agricultural primary goods, mainly soybeans, wheat and maize. A further one third were composed of processed agricultural products, such as animal feed, flour and vegetable oils. The national governmental organization in charge of overseeing agriculture is the Secretariat of Agriculture, Cattle Farming, Fishing and Food (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Alimentos, SAGPyA).

Argentine beef and other meats are some of the most important agricultural export products of Argentina. Nearly 5 million tonnes of meats (not including seafood) are produced in Argentina, long the world's leading beef consumer on a per capita basis. Beef accounts for 3.2 million tonnes (not counting 500.000 tonnes of edible offal). Then, following in importance: chicken, with 1.2 million tonnes; pork, with 265,000 and mutton (including goat meat), over 100,000. Cattle is mainly raised in the provinces of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe. Additional significant agricultural commodities include cereals, oilseeds, fruit, vegetables, sugar cane, dairy products and fish/seafood. (Full article...)

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Credit: U.S. Federal Government
Holstein cattle, a breed of cattle known today as the world's highest production dairy animal.

Did you know...

... that although Damien O'Connor, the minister of agriculture, stated that "the image of pastoral farming is the one New Zealand promotes", he called the ANZCO Foods feedlot (drone footage featured) at Wakanui "innovative"?
Other "Did you know" facts... Read more...

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