Portal:Agriculture and Agronomy

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Agriculture and agronomy portal

Ploughing rice paddies with water buffalo, in Indonesia.

Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the development of civilization. The study of agriculture is known as agricultural science. The history of agriculture dates back thousands of years, and its development has been driven and defined by greatly different climates, cultures, and technologies. However, all farming generally relies on techniques to expand and maintain the lands suitable for raising domesticated species. For plants, this usually requires some form of irrigation, although there are methods of dryland farming; pastoral herding on rangeland is still the most common means of raising livestock. In the developed world, industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture has become the dominant system of modern farming, although there is growing support for sustainable agriculture. The major agricultural products can be broadly grouped into foods, fibers, fuels, and raw materials.

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Apis mellifera flying.jpg
Pictured left: A European honey bee carrying pollen back to the beehive

Honey bees are a subset of bees in the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests out of wax. Honey bees are the only extant members of the tribe Apini, all in the genus Apis. Currently, there are only seven recognised species of honey bee with a total of 44 subspecies,[1] though historically, anywhere from six to eleven species have been recognised. Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the approximately 20,000 known species of bees. Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees.

Honey bees as a group appear to have their centre of origin in South and South East Asia (including the Philippines), as all but one of the extant species are native to that region, notably the most plesiomorphic living species (Apis florea and Apis andreniformis).[2] The first Apis bees appear in the fossil record at the EoceneOligocene boundary, in European deposits. The origin of these prehistoric honey bees does not necessarily indicate that Europe is where the genus originated, only that it occurred there at that time. There are few known fossil deposits in the suspected region of honey bee origin, and fewer still have been thoroughly studied. There is only one fossil species documented from the New World, Apis nearctica, known from a single 14-million-year old specimen from Nevada.[3]

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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.[5] 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.[6]

  1. ^ Michael S. Engel (1999). "The taxonomy of recent and fossil honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Apis)". Journal of Hymenoptera Research 8: 165–196. 
  2. ^ Deborah R. Smith, Lynn Villafuerte, Gard Otisc & Michael R. Palmer (2000). "Biogeography of Apis cerana F. and A. nigrocincta Smith: insights from mtDNA studies" (PDF). Apidologie 31 (2): 265–279. doi:10.1051/apido:2000121. 
  3. ^ Michael S. Engel, I. A. Hinojosa-Diaz & A. P. Rasnitsyn (2009). "A honey bee from the Miocene of Nevada and the biogeography of Apis (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Apini)". Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 60 (3): 23–38. 
  4. ^ Gold, M. (July 2009). What is Sustainable Agriculture?. United States Department of Agriculture, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
  5. ^ Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (FACTA), Public Law 101-624, Title XVI, Subtitle A, Section 1603
  6. ^ Organic and non-GMO Report. New certification programs aim to encourage sustainable farming.

Categories: Sustainable agriculture, Sustainability

Did you know...

...the indigenous Gunditjmara people in Victoria, Australia may have raised eels as early as 6000 BC? There is evidence that they developed about 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi) of volcanic floodplains in the vicinity of Lake Condah into a complex of channels and dams, that they used woven traps to capture eels, and that capturing and smoking eels supported them year round.[1][2]
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References

  1. ^ Aborigines may have farmed eels, built huts ABC Science News, 13 March 2003.
  2. ^ Lake Condah Sustainability Project. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
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