Portal:Agriculture and Agronomy

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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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TravellingSprinkler.JPG
Pictured left: A travelling sprinkler at Millets Farm Centre, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall. Additionally, irrigation also has a few other uses in crop production, which include protecting plants against frost,[1] suppressing weed growing in grain fields[2] and helping in preventing soil consolidation.[3] In contrast, agriculture that relies only on direct rainfall is referred to as rain-fed or dryland farming. Irrigation systems are also used for dust suppression, disposal of sewage, and in mining. Irrigation is often studied together with drainage, which is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from a given area.

At the global scale, 2,788,000 km² (689 million acres) of agricultural land was equipped with irrigation infrastructure around the year 2000. About 68% of the area equipped for irrigation is located in Asia, 17% in America, 9% in Europe, 5% in Africa and 1% in Oceania. The largest contiguous areas of high irrigation density are found in North India and Pakistan along the rivers Ganges and Indus, in the Hai He, Huang He and Yangtze basins in China, along the Nile river in Egypt and Sudan, in the Mississippi-Missouri river basin and in parts of California. Smaller irrigation areas are spread across almost all populated parts of the world.[4]

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Cargill grain elevator and terminal.jpg
Credit: Kelly Martin

A Cargill grain elevator and terminal in East St. Louis, Illinois on the east shore of the Mississippi River. Photographed June 15, 2006

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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.[6] 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.[7]

Categories: Sustainable agriculture, Sustainability

Did you know...

...Some kelp species can grow about 1 foot (30 cm) per day?
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References

  1. ^ Snyder, R. L.; Melo-Abreu, J. P. (2005). "Frost protection: fundamentals, practice, and economics – Volume 1" (PDF). Environment and Natural Resources Series 10. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISSN: 1684-8241. 
  2. ^ Williams, J. F.; S. R. Roberts, J. E. Hill, S. C. Scardaci, and G. Tibbits. "Managing Water for Weed Control in Rice". UC Davis, Department of Plant Sciences. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  3. ^ Arid environments becoming consolidated
  4. ^ Siebert, S.; J. Hoogeveen, P. Döll, J-M. Faurès, S. Feick, and K. Frenken (2006-11-10). "The Digital Global Map of Irrigation Areas – Development and Validation of Map Version 4" (PDF). Tropentag 2006 – Conference on International Agricultural Research for Development. Bonn, Germany. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  5. ^ Gold, M. (July 2009). What is Sustainable Agriculture?. United States Department of Agriculture, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
  6. ^ Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (FACTA), Public Law 101-624, Title XVI, Subtitle A, Section 1603
  7. ^ Organic and non-GMO Report. New certification programs aim to encourage sustainable farming.
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