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Is productivity claim contrary to the evidence?[edit]

In section 2.6 "Modern developments" we find the following sentences:

"Many farms began to be enclosed by yeomen who improved the use of their land. This process of land reform accelerated in the 18th century with special acts of Parliament to expedite the legal process.[48] The consolidation of large, privately owned holdings, encouraged the improvement of productivity through experimentation by enterprising landowners."

There is only one source cited here, but it is a good source; the problem is of course that the actual content of that source has been lost in this passage of section 2.6! I want to also mention that these sentences might actually be making claims contrary to the data on this topic. For one thing, to my understanding it is accepted that low technological agriculture has a greater efficiency per hectare on small holdings than on large consolidated estates (I point you to, for example, P. Rosset, “Small is Bountiful,” The Ecologist 29 (1999): 207).

The process of enclosure is here, in a few light and general words, are it seems to me presented in an incredibly optimistic and unrealistic light. The great social unheaval caused, for example, by the Acts of Enclosure are swept under the rug. To claim without evidence that this "encouraged the improvement of productivity" seems very iffy. I would argue it would not do justice to scholarly work of the past 150 years to present the development of agriculture in this smooth and tidy light. Even Marx devoted a chapter to this topic in his chapter on what he termed, 'primitive accumulation'. More to the point, the issue of actual land repurposing as a result of the enclosures is not discussed at all. Sheep farming is very different than produce and grain production. As I understand the Enclosures (and which you will probably find in citation [48]!), in many cases in the UK, smallholdings with very diverse plantings were consolidated into giant sheep-farms while people were driven from their lands. Is Section 2.6 of this Wiki article implicitly condone that? At the very least, let's bolster this paragraph, make it more studied, and make claims citing more than one source. (talk) 21:35, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

Cultivation of cereals by the first farmers was not more productive than foraging[edit]

Cultivation of cereals by the first farmers was not more productive than foraging

Samuel Bowles

Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM, 87501; and University of Siena, Siena 53100, Italy Edited* by Henry T. Wright, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, and approved February 2, 2011 (received for review July 26, 2010)

1E-mail: Abstract

Did foragers become farmers because cultivation of crops was simply a better way to make a living? If so, what is arguably the greatest ever revolution in human livelihoods is readily explained. To answer the question, I estimate the caloric returns per hour of labor devoted to foraging wild species and cultivating the cereals exploited by the first farmers, using data on foragers and land-abundant hand-tool farmers in the ethnographic and historical record, as well as archaeological evidence. A convincing answer must account not only for the work of foraging and cultivation but also for storage, processing, and other indirect labor, and for the costs associated with the delayed nature of agricultural production and the greater exposure to risk of those whose livelihoods depended on a few cultivars rather than a larger number of wild species. Notwithstanding the considerable uncertainty to which these estimates inevitably are subject, the evidence is inconsistent with the hypothesis that the productivity of the first farmers exceeded that of early Holocene foragers. Social and demographic aspects of farming, rather than its productivity, may have been essential to its emergence and spread. Prominent among these aspects may have been the contribution of farming to population growth and to military prowess, both promoting the spread of farming as a livelihood.

labor productivity technological change time discount certainty equivalent


Author contributions: S.B. designed research, performed research, analyzed data, and wrote the paper. The author declares no conflict of interest.

↵*This Direct Submission article had a prearranged editor. This article contains supporting information online at

What does that mean for the article?--Andreas Hausberger 13:34, 8 March 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Conversano Isabella (talkcontribs)


Are vineyards not a form of agriculture? There is no mention of them in this article and the vineyard article makes scant reference to agriculture. PeterEastern (talk) 11:18, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

An excellent article about an important subject needs an update[edit]

Agriculture and land cultivation for food (for humans and animals) is a vital topic for any credible reference source. It also has social merit, social as defined by "beneficial to global well-being", not in the context of "social mobile gaming".

Reference status[edit]

This was a well-written article, but it is in need of an update! Many of the references are well-regarded, credible. I checked several. This is what I found: Although accessed here on WP in 2008 for example, the external source indicates that findings were based on current data. And "current data" as of 2003 or 2005 was often 1995 or 2000. There has been enormous change since then, see in particular anything pertaining to China, or the People's Republic of China as the article describes it. (That is accurate, PRC is correct, but it gives insight into how dated the article is).

Significance versus attention received[edit]

This makes me feel sad, that Agriculture receives so much less attention on WP than Private equity, a minor sub-category of finance, which is a sub-category of business. Actually, even worse, is that Agriculture receives much less attention than digital currency or obscure political ideologies or conspiracy theories or iPhones or television programmes or Angry Birds. None of those topics would exist (nor continue to exist!) without the existence, and flourishing of Agriculture. It is NOT an historical topic!

I wish I could contribute. Unfortunately, my field of expertise is in much less useful things (it is sadly evident on my user page). Could something be done to address this? I would be glad to help if given some guidance by someone who has subject matter knowledge. --FeralOink (talk) 03:51, 2 April 2012 (UTC)

Technology designation[edit]

  • Is Agriculture linked to Technology?

There is a banner, in fact, it is the very first banner on this page, indicating that Agriculture is deemed to be of vital importance to Technology. (I think that is a VERY sensible decision, by the way)! But it only uses the word Technology, with no URL. Is the link to Technology implicitly active by virtue of the banner? I checked the meta-data, blah-blah, couldn't tell for certain, didn't want to mess up anything. All the other banners for article significance-to-topics include an inline WP-link to the relevant topic e.g. food and drink. --FeralOink (talk) 04:15, 2 April 2012 (UTC)

Climate change[edit]

The article says that "agriculture" has a very bad negative effect in regards to climate change. This is actually very inaccurate. It should state that animal husbandry has a very bad effect on climate change. This as it is one of the main reasons of prodiction of methane gas, one of the worst GhG gases (allot more potent than CO²). In addition, I find it's useful to also mention that life in prehistoric times had allready been killed once (globally!) trough the effect of methane gas. Appearantly, the levels for this to happen were only 5x as large, excluding other gases (ie effect of CO² emissions from transport, ...) See (talk) 16:43, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

It is accurate to state that agriculture, not just livestock production, has some implications for climate change. The 100-year GWP of nitrous oxide is about 298 (compared with about 25 for methane and 1 for carbon dioxide), and major sources of nitrous oxide from agriculture include nitrogenous fertilizers and fixed nitrogen derived from legume crops, as well as nitrogen in livestock manure. The effect of methane on climate change is due to change in atmospheric methane concentration, which has not recently been correlated with anthropogenic emissions, and is only partly due to livestock sources. For example, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Third Assessment Report Table 4.2 tabulates methane emissions estimates for ruminant livestock ranging from 80 to 115 Tg per year, and for rice production ranging up to 100 Tg per year, i.e. overlapping the range suggested for ruminant livestock. However, recent average net production of global methane was estimated at only about 1 Tg per year in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (i.e. total of anthropogenic and natural sources estimated at 582 Tg/year; total sinks estimated at 581 Tg/year), and despite the magnitude of anthropogenic methane emissions, atmospheric methane concentration has not increased at all in some recent years (Dlugokencky, E. J. et al. 2011. Global atmospheric methane: budget, changes and dangers. Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. 369: 2058-2072). In addition to methane and nitrous oxide emissions, agriculture also contributes carbon dioxide emissions from combustion of fossil fuels, and additional net emissions of carbon dioxide (from oxidation of soil and biomass carbon) have been attributed to some conversions of lands to agricultural production. Such considerations justify avoiding a narrow focus on animal husbandry or exclusive emphasis on methane in this article's comments regarding agriculture's effects on climate change. Schafhirt (talk) 03:00, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree, it is not animal husbandry itself is the problem, but certain modern practices. Likewise, certain modern non-livestock crop production practices, particularly the production of corn, also have significant negative effects on climate change. Montanabw(talk) 23:35, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
It's too bad Schafhirt didn't edit the article on climate change. The article he cites Global atmospheric methane: budget, changes and dangers does show rice paddies as a source of methane, but does not seem to have much else about agriculture. Certainly the Haber process has energy impacts. II | (t - c) 04:36, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

Source for table[edit]

Can we get a source for the agricultural output table? Thanks to whoever made it, but it can't be included without a source.

Not sure where exactly this person was referring to, but the crop statistics table is sourced to the FAO. II | (t - c) 04:30, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

Work notice[edit]

Hi everyone - I am planning to work on this article as an entry for the WP:The Core Contest, now ongoing. My plan is to initially work on addressing the tags currently on the article. After that, I will work on taking care of un-tagged problems, including unreferenced section, unreliable sources, dead links, etc. My eventual plan is to put the article up for GAN, although on an article of this size and importance, that could take a while :) In the meantime, any comments, suggestions, tagging, etc., would be much appreciated. Dana boomer (talk) 00:44, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

A very important subject! It seems to me the current version has too much on some aspects - for example the essentially US-only section on safety, with apparently no main article, and gaps on some others. A section summarizing the various bits of information (some already included) on changes in %'s of populations & GDP engaged in it would be useful - this has obviously varied hugely historically & between different parts of the world. As someone points out above (sort of), non-food agriculture for cotton, wool & other crops (and vineyards) may not get its due, apart from the perhaps excessive coverage of modern ethanol etc for fuel. A section on farming failure & famine? Ideally. Something on the socio-economic aspect of farming - peasants, feudalism, employed labourers? Sizes of farm units across time and space? Lots of work, I know. Johnbod (talk) 16:05, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Agree, the GMO section in particular is too long. I would merge it back into a paragraph under biotechnology. I know a little about this area and can do so if you wish? AIRcorn (talk) 02:58, 26 April 2013 (UTC)
Thank you both for you comments. John, I've started working on yours, and plan to continue doing so later today. Aircorn, I agree that the section on GMOs is too long, but think they deserve more than a paragraph. Maybe at this point keep the genetic engineering subsection, but remove the rest of the GMO subheaders (the next four, I think), and condense the information in these five subsections into no more than 2-3 paragraphs? Dana boomer (talk) 11:47, 26 April 2013 (UTC)
Aircorn, thank you for your work! I have taken the liberty of removing the remaining subheaders and trimming the information further to remove US-specific examples and trade names, as well as replacing some of the references that only covered the US info. It's down to three paragraphs (a significant improvement) - do you still think it should be trimmed further?
John, so far I've taken care of the remainder of the tags, rewritten the safety section from a global perspective (it really is a big deal, but I agree the original wording was WAY to US-focused), and added some information on the socio-economic aspects (peasants/feudalism and the workforce today) and the initial history of grapes and fiber crops. I'm trying to move the article towards a more general description of agriculture and away from being a collection of disparate statistics about specific crops or countries - hopefully this will help with allowing the non-food crops to have a bit more room. For example, as long as the livestock production section doesn't have a bunch of statistics about how many beef cattle are raised in CAFOs in the US, the general idea of raising livestock applies just as easily to sheep (or alpaca or rabbit) bred for wool as sheep (or beef or pigs) bred for meat. Maybe take a look at what I've done so far (with Aircorn's help in the GMO section) and see what you think? I'm going to continue working on your comments, mainly the changing population percentages and farming failure, although I don't know if each one will end up with its own section. Dana boomer (talk) 02:00, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Well, I don't want to discourage boldness, but I do think these types of things should be done carefully. Looking at this removal of GMO costs and benefits, for example, I see mention of terminator seeds which have a surprisingly brief mention on Genetically_modified_food_controversies. If you don't think there's anything worth saving, please mention that in your edit summary; if you move it somewhere, let us know where (and same when you insert it somewhere). II | (t - c) 04:27, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

Johnbod points[edit]

  • Seems greatly improved - some points:
  • The lead mentions "lumber" - somewhere I'd say something like "forestry tends today to be treated as distinct from agriculture, but in many historic and traditional styles of agriculture the two were intinately linked" - ie peasants and small farmers practiced both.
  • Should "cereals" be explained a bit; the homework crowd might think of their favourite brand?
  • Non-food: "Cut flowers, nursery plants, tropical fish and birds for the pet trade" are all a bit presentist really, though I agree cut flowers are now significant. Dyestuffs, spices and flowers etc for perfume have all been really high value and important internationally-traded commodities in the past, & remain significant in much of the world. And of course drugs.
  • The lead might make a basic distinction between the farming of plants (the word "arable" isn't used) and animals. Or the terminology section.
  • I think the above four points have been addressed either in the lead or in the "Etymology and terminology" section. I've also done additional tweaking to the lead to try to help it better cover the entire article, as before it almost completely left out some fairly significant sections of the body. Is further work needed here? - DB
  • "Fiber crops were domesticated as early as food crops, with China domesticating hemp, cotton being developed independently in Africa and South America and the Near East domesticating hemp." - 2 places for hemp? - Done
  • The "ancient history" section should really be called "prehistory" or "Bronze Age" or something. The section seems to have an American bias.
  • Renamed and American info trimmed. - DB
  • I've integrated some of this into the various history sections - do you think it needs more? - DB
  • The real "ancient history" section is missing, as the article jumps from 2000 BC odd to the Middle Ages. It should be said that large urban-based empires arose in this period, with highly organised, often slavery-based, agriculture, and in many areas landlords owning large estates. Also something about trade of agricultural products - grain (from Egypt, Sicily, Britain) and olive oil (from Spain & North Africa) going to Rome & Italy. Really this was the period when things kicked off for industrial agriculture, with I think Egypt and China in the lead, and maybe India.
  • I've begun and expanded this section (I knew there was a big gap here, so now it should be mostly filled). - DB
  • The medieval section on the other hand, is all Europe.
  • Expanded with information on climactic variations, Asian and Middle Eastern contributions. - DB
  • "Further information: British Agricultural Revolution" but nothing in the text - needs a 2-3 line summary. Also the potato deserves more - it allowed higher population densities than ever before, not just in Ireland, with disastrous effects come the European Potato Failure (still no famine section). Horse-breeding was huge, & had significant political & military implications - the French were permanently short of cavalry horses, while the British used Ireland (later Argentina) and the Germans Poland etc. The start of regular trans-continental shipments of cereals deserves mention; Britain was partly reliant on imported food ever after.
  • I really don't know why BAR was linked as a see also - if we link that we need to link the other dozen "xxx country/region agricultural revolution" articles we have. I've expanded upon the potato, and integrated famine info throughout the history sections, to try to show the reader that famine was on ongoing thing through the millenia, and is still something that happens today. Integrated some on horses. I haven't been able to find much on trans-continental cereal shipments - do you have a source for this? I think that most countries are at least partially reliant on imported food, even if they don't need to be. - DB
  • Pre-internal combustion machinery deserves mention - the McCormick Reaper and so on. Essential for American expansion, & hugely increasing productivity everywhere. The move from horses to engines was probably less significant.
  • I've expanded the info on mechanization, including pre-ic machinery. Better? Or is more needed? - DB
  • mention early fertilisers such as guano.
  • I've integrated new information on fertilizers and some tidbits on the history of pest control through the various history sections, including a tidbit on guano. - DB
  • Safety still seems developed-world biased; I imagine globally far more workers are still killed by snake-bites than rolling tractors.
  • Trimmed developed world info. As far as I can see, only one sentence out of two paragraphs now relates specifically to the developed world. - DB
  • Crop statistics - that sugar cane is by far the world's biggest single crop deserves highlighting - maybe even in the lede - who knew? But where is it in the "by type" chart at left?
  • I'm really not sure what to do with these charts. They both say they are sourced to the FAO database, but I can only find the information in the database for the individual crops, not the types. I can find some print sources that give general statistics for this, and I'm wondering if a chart is even necessary for the by-type info. What if I turned that chart into prose, adding a highlighting mention of sugarcane as the top crop? This would also make it is that it's not just a section composed totally of two charts. - DB
  • Water management - the current reckless global use of artesian sources needs mention.
  • Done, as well as some general reorganizing of this section. - DB
  • "Significant advances in plant breeding ensued after the work of geneticist Gregor Mendel. His work on dominant and recessive alleles gave plant breeders a better understanding of genetics and brought great insights to the techniques utilized by plant breeders." - work in delay of about a century before his work had any impact at all.
  • Done, I think? - DB
  • Line on strong EU resistance to GMO - in the UK (EU?) they are still banned for locally-grown food.
  • Done - DB

-Read down to by country chart:More later Johnbod (talk) 21:03, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

John, I've begun working on some of your suggestions, although I haven't progressed very far :) I really appreciate you taking the time to review this. WRT your comments on the lead, as I say below, I will most likely completely rewrite it when I get the body of the article shaken out. It just seems pointless to make little tweaks now, when half the stuff is likely going to change before I'm done working! Thanks again, Dana boomer (talk) 01:23, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
Ok, take your time! Johnbod (talk) 15:47, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
I've been able to make some more progress and finish off a few of the points above. I've begun replies to each point above, and will continue as I have time (which is in short supply, being spring and all). Thanks for your patience, Dana boomer (talk) 14:14, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
I think I've at least briefly answered all of the above. There are a couple that I have questions on for further work. IMO, the article is probably fairly close to ready for a GAN - it can obviously still be improved, but I think all the major aspects are at least touched upon. I wouldn't take it to FAC right now, but the majority of the work is done. Also, with the backlog at GAN, an article of this size will probably take a while to be picked up, and I can continue to work on it in the meantime. Thoughts? Thank you again, so much, for all of your comments on this. Dana boomer (talk) 00:54, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Bill Harshaw Suggestions[edit]

I've not done anything major before so this is very tentative.

  • The first five paragraphs are unsourced? That tempts me to suggest some rewrites if they don't need to be sourced. The existing text seems rather choppy, and includes points of different levels of generalization and validity. Seems to me it would be better to be very general, and move the specifics lower, particularly where there's controversy?
  • Two points I feel are significant and should be in the article, even upfront: the relationship between land tenure and agriculture, and the relationship of agriculture and disease.
  • Anyhow, here's my suggested beginning paragraphs, without including links, formatting,etc.

Agriculture, also called farming or husbandry, is the cultivation of life forms to support human life. Beginning over 10,000 years ago, humans in different continents discovered different species they could domesticate, and they developed different cultural practices adapted to the seasons, climates, soils, rainfall, and available pasture where they lived. Initially agriculture just provided food and clothing, but in different areas humans soon expanded its scope to provide human helpers (dogs, horses, etc.), recreation (alcohol and other drugs), raw materials (hemp, lumber, resin, leather), ornamentation (flowers, etc.) This expansion continues today.

The development of agriculture provided the food surpluses which enabled humans to specialize, and thus was the key enabler in the rise of urban civilization. The fact that humans and animals lived closely together also led to a number of diseases jumping from domestic animals to humans.

Farming means human control not only by domesticating the species of plant or animal, but by modifying the environment in which the species grows: for plants by modifying the soil or other growing medium by tillage, fertilization and amendments and controlling the amount of water provided by irrigation or drainage and for animals by controlling the food, water, and predators.

In the developed world the drive for more control has meant the replacement of human labor by engineering of machines, environments, and genomes, leading to such innovations as genetically modified organisms,concentrated agricultural feeding operations (CAFO’s), precision agriculture, and robotic agriculture. On the other end of the continuum movements for organic farming, sustainable agriculture, locavore/farmers markets have become prominent in many countries.

As an economic system, agriculture and systems of land tenure are intertwined. Examples include the communal landholding of some Native American tribes and some African entities; the collective farms of the USSR, the latifundia and plantation agriculture of ancient Rome, Spanish America, and the Southern US, the kibbutz of Israel, the family owned and operated farms still dominant in the US, the leased lands of Ulster, and the large land purchases in some African nations by nations like China, etc.

Bill Harshaw (talk) 22:00, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Hi Bill, and thanks for your comments! The beginning section of the article is called the lead, see WP:LEAD) and is considered to be whatever comes before the table of content. In general, this information does not need to be sourced (unless very contentious or direct quotes). This is because the lead is supposed to be a summary of the body of the article in 3-4 paragraphs for an article of this size. So, the broad themes of the article should all get a mention, but information should be in the lead that is not covered in the body of the article. Because of the amount of changes that have been made and still need to be made to the body of this article (see the discussion above), I have not yet begun to work on the lead, which is probably why it seems so disjointed currently. I was planning to wait to see how the rest of the article ended up before I rewrote the lead. So far, sections have been added, deleted and majorly rewritten, so even if the lead had corresponded to the article originally, it certainly doesn't now! I hope this answers your questions about the lead, as well as why focusing heavily on one or two aspects should not be done: because, while important, they do not make up the whole picture of agriculture. Dana boomer (talk) 23:57, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for the explanation. I may offer some thoughts in the "talk" section--I assume that's more efficient given your ongoing editing/revision of the whole article. Bill Harshaw (talk) 18:46, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
Please, offer all suggestions you may have! This is a huge article, and so the more people interested in it, the better. As you can see, I'm still making some pretty major changes, so there are parts that still need significant revision... Dana boomer (talk) 02:55, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Any general rules for how to separate out material which applies only to one country versus that which applies across the board, particularly when you don't know? For example, "agricultural policy" tends to be different by political units--the EU's CAP is different than the US farm bill, and getting differenter. Bill Harshaw (talk) 15:16, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
But both provide large subsidies, often for crops that would be more efficiently produced in the Global South, which is probably all we should say here. Johnbod (talk) 00:57, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Comment on "Agriculture" and "History of Agriculture"[edit]

There's a problem with the history sections here in that they focus on agriculture in the Middle East and Europe, whereas agriculture was really developed in several different areas. The History of Agriculture article handles the problem by devoting separate sections to each area, though there's still inconsistency with the series of "Agriculture in..." set of articles.Bill Harshaw (talk) 21:34, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

I'm not done writing the history section yet - the post-Neolithic information on non-European cultures needs to be expanded, as does information on famines and technology transitions, per the above conversation with Johnbod. Real life is just crazy at the moment, so I'm working slowly. Regarding your question in the above section (which I didn't see about now, my apologies), I'm trying to keep the article as general as possible, giving a broad overview and leaving the specifics to the daughter articles. If, as in your example above of agricultural policy, there are other broad issues covered by ag policy, they can be given as generalities..."agricultural policy also sometimes covers a, b and c." Dana boomer (talk) 01:22, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
I don't think there's room here to split into "by area" history sections, but as per mine above the balance of several needs adjusting. Johnbod (talk) 01:27, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
I haven't reviewed the daughter articles for "policy" and "agricultural economics", but I think they might be combined in the general article. If the granddaughter articles "Agriculture in India, Agriculture in China...etc." are viewed as being the most detailed, particularly for earlier times, then "History of Agriculture" might be a summary of earlier times, and more detailed as agriculture becomes international and globalized. Bill Harshaw (talk) 20:37, 15 May 2013 (UTC)


Does wikipedia have any general rules on including statistical tables? Any bot to automatically flag tables which need updating? As for the current table, I think it's too easy to misread the table--sugarcane is first only because it's the cane, not the refined sugar. Ranking crops by value or acreage rather than tonnage would make more sense.Bill Harshaw (talk) 21:20, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

I don't see why - and do you value the potatos or the chips, the grapes or the wine? Most staple crops are mainly eaten processed. Johnbod (talk) 00:52, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Okay, put it this way: the percentage of the original weight lost in processing is very high (roughly 90 percent) for sugar cane, very low for most grains, grapes, potatoes, etc. Seems like comparing apples and oranges. Just a pet peeve, I guess.Bill Harshaw (talk) 21:25, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Johnbod points - September[edit]

Generally I can see a lot of improvement, & it looks pretty good.

  • " pastoral herding on rangeland is still the most common means of raising livestock." Hmm - rangeland isn't a term you'd use in British English, & I'm not sure what it covers. Almost all European large livestock is on fields or pastures of some kind, except for reindeer in the Arctic etc. Similar for much of the rest of the world, I'd have thought. Not sure what to do. Add " rangeland or pasture " would be a start, maybe enough. Is this even true, given no one herds pigs or chickens much? I'd have thought they were the most common global meat animals, certainly by head, & also by weight. Oddly, Livestock excludes poultry, and they are not mentioned in the livestock sections here I think. Same with farmed fish. Something should be said, if only to get the links in. If you can find by species stats for global production, like you have for crops, that would be interesting.
  • Did some major re-writing of the livestock section and have tweaked the lead accordingly. - DB
  • Bronze and Iron Ages - Ideally mention the development of nomadic herding cultures in Eurasia on the steppes, & maybe Africa & elsewhere. They became horse-based quite early on I think.
tick that Johnbod (talk) 19:43, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Middle Ages - "[the Muslim Arabs] developed the beginnings of the plantation system through the use of slaves for intensive cultivation." -surely they just took over what the Romans and then Byzantines were doing in this respect (and maybe earlier peoples). Late Roman agriculture was pretty efficient, with much of the land huge estates using slaves and often with the absentee landlords a long way off - see Latifundium. It collapsed in Europe with the barbarians, but I think survived in the East, though I'm not sure how late they had slaves.
  • Oops, that was supposed to be specifically the plantation system as it related to growing sugarcane. Now fixed. Dana boomer (talk) 18:01, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
  • "The work of Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel created the scientific foundation for plant breeding that led to its explosive impact over the past 150 years." Not sure about "led" and "150 years" (ie since 1863). Mendel was famously ignored/forgotten until about 1900, & I don't know Darwin had much practical impact on plant breeding - his work also learned a lot from the livestock breeding of his day, especially in birds. Maybe he did. I think the "explosion" in both livestock and plant breeding was already well under way - from the late 18th century- led more by deliberate well-funded efforts to improve breeds with only a hazy understanding of why it was possible to do so. Arguably the racehorse studs led the way, long before Darwin & Mendel. See - and link- Plant breeding - unfortunately Animal breeding and Selective breeding are pretty poor.
  • I removed this sentence altogether. Mendel's work is discussed in more detail in the Crop alteration section, and other work in selective breeding of both plants and animals is discussed in other areas of the article. Dana boomer (talk) 18:49, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
  • "farmers experimented with steam-powered machinery, which was found to be expensive, dangerous and a fire hazard." for mobile tractor-types maybe, but I think static (when working) machines giving power to things like threshers, and stuff for road transport, were still useful until WW2, in the UK anyway. See Traction engine. "In 1892, the first gasoline-powered tractor" needs at least one link.
  • Did a bit of rewriting and linking here. Steam-powered machinery was used (not just experimented with, my mistake), although it co-existed with animal-drawn machinery, as opposed to gas- and diesel-powered equipment, which relatively quickly replaced animals as a power source. - DB
  • "decreased soil quality in India and Asia" - nothing to link to?
  • Linked to soil quality. I can't find any specific articles to link to WRT India/Asia. - DB
Land degradation is longer & more relevant (linked later, but not at 1st use). Johnbod (talk) 19:43, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Have both links in there now. - DB
  • "Landless systems rely upon feed from outside the farm, representing the de-linking of crop and livestock production found more prevalently in OECD member countries. In the U.S., 70% of the grain grown is fed to animals on feedlots." Maybe distinguish between species. The US (Nth America - maybe + Japan) is I think exceptional in using feedlots for most cattle, but poultry & pigs are generally raised on landless systems in the OECD and beyond. Sheep still always on pasture I think. You might make the point that meat species are rather less globally diverse than plant crops. Also that meat production is dramatically less efficient than crops in exploiting land for human nutrients.
  • Did quite a bit of re-writing and adding here, several new sources, etc. Poultry expanded upon and fish farming now mentioned, as well as some discussion of trends among systems and in the industry as a whole. - DB
Yup Johnbod (talk) 19:43, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Maybe a sentence or two on the development of trading meat long-distance - salting, canning (corned beef), long-distance trails, railways for livestock, refrigeration/freezing - transformative for Sheep farming in New Zealand since 1882 (I've seen the silver "chopper" ceremonially used by Queen Victoria on the first consignment).
  • Added a bit on the transport of meat and other goods into the Modern developments section. Also a bit on wheat, as you asked for in a previous set of comments. Dana boomer (talk) 18:01, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Genetic engineering - I suspect more links could be added.
  • Which links are you thinking about? I've read through the section again, and can't see anything that's not linked previously... - DB
Maybe not then; it's late in the article & things are already linked Johnbod (talk) 19:43, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

-more later. Done down to "Genetic engineering". Johnbod (talk) 13:32, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the comments; will begin major work shortly. Looking forward to the rest of your review! Dana boomer (talk) 16:12, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
More work done. We're beginning to bump up against length issues, so any comments on places that could stand to be trimmed a bit would also be welcome. There's a bit of room to work, but there's still several points above that I have not addressed that will require adding material. Dana boomer (talk) 16:44, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Next bunch
  • "Agriculture imposes external costs upon society through pesticides, nutrient runoff, excessive water usage, and assorted other problems." Surely loss of natural environment has to be mentioned? Whether it is valued in those estimates I don't know.
  • Added. - DB
  • Linked. - DB
  • Linked. - DB
  • "In the United States, unprocessed commodities (i.e. corn, soybeans, cows) are graded to indicate quality" - and everywhere else, though not on the same systems etc.
  • Rewritten a bit and combined with another paragraph. It feels a little out of place here, but I'm not sure where else would be a better fit. - DB
  • "Direct consumption includes the use of lubricants and fuels to operate farm vehicles and machinery; and use of gas, ..." meaning gasoline or petrol. In British etc. English gas means gas. Lk petrochemical, propane, natural gas, & at "reconditioning of soil to restore nutrients" probably Soil conditioner, & at "water policy" Water resource management.
  • Linking done. Thanks for all the link suggestions. These terms are so normal to me that I forget that they may not be to many readers. - DB
  • The economics section is all contemporary, & top level. Links are needed to the key articles: land tenure, Manorialism for the bottom end of the European Feudal system, sharecropping, probably others. Unfortunately common land is just about England.
  • Well, it's a top level article, so I think the discussion is top level in pretty much all of the sections. You are correct that it was fairly heavily focused on the contemporary - I've added a bit on the history of it as a discipline of study and various agriculture-based economic systems. - DB
  • Policy section ought to mentions political pressures on govt policies, either from voters, farm lobbies & direct action, or agribusiness (no link yet) lobbying.
  • Expanded. - DB
  • But why just the BAR, and not the Arab Agricultural Revolution, the Scottish Agricultural Revolution, etc? The Neolithic Revolution and the Green Revolution (the two major global ones) are already discussed at length...not sure why we need to focus on specific ones, especially when we're already pressed for length. We already discuss in general how agriculture worked with/affected/was affected by property rights, mechanization, crop rotation and selective breeding (the four main components driving the BAR), why be more specific with a specific country's ag revolution? Unless you have a suggestion to work it into the existing text? Dana boomer (talk) 19:58, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
It's controversial whether the Arab one even happened, & the Scottish one was of purely local influence, but the British one drove change in Europe & Nth America, & ultimately globally. Admittedly our article is rather odd - normally the term just covers c. 1750-1850. Johnbod (talk) 21:18, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I've added in a couple of sentences. However, the scholarly literature shows no agreement with 1) what time period it took place in 2) whether it was a "revolution" or a very gradual multi-century change and 3) exactly what happened/who was responsible. This article is not the place to go into that discussion (the literature I found in just a quick search could easily fill a 100kb article), so a couple of sentences with a link will have to be sufficient. - DB
  • I don't think we really mention the very typical situation of the household with one pig or a cow for milk, or a few chickens for eggs, which we should. This has been very common since way back & remains so in the Third World. It used to be so even in the middle of cities. Also the equivalent for plants - from great houses with a walled Kitchen garden, fishpond, an orangery etc, to humbler vegetable patches (redirects to Kitchen garden) or in Europe the Allotment (gardening).
  • I'm having a really hard time finding sources that discuss this idea as it relates to agriculture (or really, even just sources that discuss the history of...personal farming, I guess? general, without a wider context. It could be I'm using the wrong terms in search engines and while looking through the indexes of hard-copy books. Any ideas? - DB
Chapter 3 "The Cottage Pig" here works for early modern England, which was typical. Domestic pig is pretty useless. This is dry, but must have stuff. Page 5 here starts well on kitchen gardens - haven't read beyond. Johnbod (talk) 04:04, 21 September 2013 (UTC)
But all of those are specific to one country/area... I'm hesitant to use geographically-specific sources to extrapolate world-wide, and really, people feeding themselves is a world-wide thing that was the norm in ancient times and is still quite prevalent today. Dana boomer (talk) 20:57, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

Johnbod (talk) 20:53, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

Thank you very much, Johnbod!!! Again, your comments have been SO helpful in the improvements to this article. I think I have addressed or at least replied to everything above. Any further thoughts? Dana boomer (talk) 02:08, 21 September 2013 (UTC)


Just passing by here, but the section on the Greco-Roman world seems a little cockeyed. Ancient Greek Agriculture (Routledge, 1995), p. 45, takes note of the "more advanced agricultural technology of the Romans". The main agricultural writers of antiquity (in terms of extant treatises devoted solely to agriculture) are Roman: Cato the Elder, Varro, and Columella, with a lot of information from Pliny the Elder about agricultural techniques such as mineral soil amendments and other fertilizers, crop rotation, grafting, and selective breeding. Unfortunately, Roman agriculture isn't a sufficient article, but see for instance the top image of the early harvesting machine invented in Roman Gaul. The body of knowledge that produced the aqueducts also advanced irrigation techniques, and there's an entire book on Roman farming implements. There's a sweet little intro to Roman farming here. The extent of the Roman Empire spread food crops throughout Europe, and the Romans grew a wide variety of produce (see sections on grains and legumes, produce, farmers' markets and the annona or bread dole). Viticulture was a major economic activity, and there's a new book called The Roman Agricultural Economy. Sicily, Egypt and the North African provinces were exporting "breadbaskets", and in fact one key to the Empire's prosperity and success was the attention to the food supply and large-scale agriculture (latifundia). See for instance grain supply to the city of Rome, but grain was shipped around the Mediterranean, and was always a logistical concern of the Roman military. See also Deforestation during the Roman period. The article implies that there wasn't much difference in the scale and productivity of agriculture between the Roman Imperial world and medieval Europe, but that may not be entirely accurate. (One erroneous piece of trivia: horses were not used for agriculture, at least not by the Romans, so i doubt by the Greeks either. Oxen did heavy farm work, and mules.) I'm not suggesting that more than a couple of sentences be spent on Rome, but I'm am just indicating the diversity and scope of Roman agriculture. It's a bit puzzling to see Plato and Aristotle turn up as significant figures in the history of agriculture to the exclusion of Roman farmers. Cynwolfe (talk) 02:55, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

As I'm sure you have already seen, I reworked the initial sentence of this paragraph to remove the focus on individual scholars and place focus where it should have been: the history of discussion on farming techniques and soil fertility. Rome is also mentioned in both of the previous paragraphs, which emphasize its position with regards to agriculture and agricultural trade, so I don't think further discussion of Rome is warranted, given the limited amount of space we have in the article. Horses may not have been used for tilling fields by Romans and Greeks, but they were by other cultures (especially later on, per the "by medieval times..." sentence). Also, they were necessary for the production of the mules you mention, and livestock breeding is part of agriculture. Dana boomer (talk) 19:03, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Edit request on 26 September 2013[edit]

Please change this link to this

The links have been updated. Thanks!

Erumley (talk) 18:00, 26 September 2013 (UTC)

Done. Thanks for noting this! Dana boomer (talk) 19:04, 26 September 2013 (UTC)


Noodleki, while I appreciate your enthusiasm, please stop with your massive changes to the history section of the Agriculture article. This section (and its subsections) has been carefully crafted through extensive talk page discussion, using high quality sources, in an attempt to take the article to GA and possibly FA status. By replacing it with the information that was previously in the History of agriculture article, you are destroying the flow, sourcing and comprehensiveness of the section. The history section of the Agriculture article is much better than the History of agriculture article previously was - that much we agree on. That is because I have worked extensively on the Agriculture article as a whole, while no-one has put such effort into the History of agriculture article. The solution in this situation is to improve the History of agriculture article, not replace major sections of the Agriculture article with what is in many cases unsourced trivia. You have been bold, I have reverted, now please discuss, per WP:BRD. Dana boomer (talk) 00:48, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

I originally moved the content after noticing that the agriculture article was more detailed than the history article, which is obviously ridiculous. The reason we have history of... articles, is to be more comprehensive. Now, as the article stands, there is a vast amount of info on Bronze Age, Iron Age, in china, europe, middle east and so on, and virtually nothing on the agricultural revolution. There are 2 major events in agricultural history - its invention, and the unprecedented expansion in production that ocurred from 1700-1900. It was one of the defining events that made the industrial revolution, and the modern world, possible and is of extreme importance - far more than large amounts of info on different regional histories, which all faced the same subsistence barriers throughout history. Here and some literature on this important topic.
There needs to be mention of the following fundamental points: enclosure, crop rotation, commercialization, mechanization, breeding, fertilizers. These are all topics you bizarrely characterize as trivia. No, rather than being trivial, these advances allowed for an unprecedented population expansion (7 billion and counting) industrialization and the end of having to worry about starving to death - at least in the rich world. Regional histories of antiquity should mainly be in the history article, with an abridged version here.
Regarding the sourcing, I would be happy to add sources - there are lots of them.Noodleki (talk) 01:17, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Please see the lengthy discussion above for how the history section got to its current state. The reason this article has a history section that is better than the entire History of agriculture article is because there has been concentrated work by multiple editors on this article, and we haven't yet begun working on the History of agriculture article (which needs a ton of work). There is currently four paragraphs of information covering 4,000 years of history in the Bronze and Iron Age section. I don't see how this is excessive. The Modern developments and Green Revolution sections, which discuss many of the topics you mention, have a total of eight paragraphs, which cover ~700 years of history - double the amount of coverage for a significantly smaller time period. The history section is laid out to show a progression from the earliest domestication of plants and animals, through major agricultural developments (such as the invention of various implements, etc.), etc. The "regional histories of antiquity", as you call them, are abridged here - it is the History of agriculture article that needs major work, not this one (not saying that this article can't always be improved, just that it's much better than that one). If there are substantially similar discussions of multiple cultures facing the same subsistence barriers, please point them out.
The "agricultural revolution" that you are discussing appears to be (given your sources) the British Agricultural Revolution, about which there is a significant scholarly debate (that is another article that needs a ton of work). There isn't the space in this article to have an extended discussion about the technicalities of the BAR, as disputed by scholars. While the BAR had the largest impact of any agricultural revolution (which is why it's the only one mentioned by name), there were many other major agricultural changes throughout history. To devote eight paragraphs (in your proposed version) to the BAR is undue weight, given the many other advancements that other cultures have given to agriculture over the past 16,000 years.
To discuss some of the things you mentioned in particular: fertilizers and plant nutrition are mentioned for the first time in the last paragraph of the Bronze and Iron Age section, again in the second and fourth paragraphs of the Modern developments section, throughout the Green Revolution and Contemporary agriculture, and mentioned several more times throughout the article. Crop rotation is discussed for the first time in the second paragraph of the Middle Ages section, monoculture is mentioned in the Modern developments section, and Crop cultivation systems and Production practices have their own sections. Agriculture's effect on population is discussed throughout the article, including in the very first paragraph of the History section, the last paragraph of the Middle Ages section, and basically the entirety of the Modern developments and Green Revolution sections. The same goes for mechanization, commercialization, and I think everything else you mention. Putting this list together has given me the feeling that you have really not read the article in full (which may be a mistaken feeling, but it is the one that I'm getting), because everything that you state deserves a "mention" already has well more than that. The British Agricultural Revolution did not invent fertilizers, crop rotation, commercialization or breeding, although improvements on many of these were made during the time period, as is already discussed in the article. Dana boomer (talk) 02:28, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
There actually weren't really any other (significant) agricultural developments. Simply put, the world went from a subsistence, hand-to-mouth, agrarian existence to a place of tremendous abundance. This change was gradual (scholarly debate is about the precise periodization of the event) and took place from about 1600-1850. This is barely even mentioned in the article, as opposed to tremendous amounts on the Middle Ages, ancient China and so forth. While not wishing to deprecate civilizations or eras, the blunt truth is that very little of lasting importance happened in agriculture from 3,000BC to 1700 or so - and the article needs to make that clear. The length of time involved is obviously not the issue, what matters is the pace of change. It's especially strange as there's a huge amount devoted to the 'Green revolution' which was essentially just the exportation of Western methods to other areas.
The major systematic shifts in how the rural economy was structured, involving the marketization of crops and enclosure of lands are what made this possible and are not mentioned at all.Noodleki (talk) 03:06, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
I find it fascinating that you say that there no other significant agricultural developments. What do you consider the development of early agricultural implements (the plow? iron smelting? wind- and water-mills?). Early agricultural technology (irrigation? pest control? crop rotation?) Or the development of societal systems like empires, slavery, extensive trade networks, the manorial system and plantations that were dependent on or developed because of agriculture? And that's just before 1500. Between 1500 and 1700 we have the global exchange, the first synthetic pest control, the first intensive use of fertilizer, etc. The progression of agriculture from its earliest history to 1500-1600 built the groundwork for the agricultural revolution. The BAR did not start from nothing - it built upon the techniques and tools and knowledge gathered and created by farmers for centuries and millenia before. So we can't just toss a few meager paragraphs in for those thousands of years and then say "oh, yeah, and then the BAR happened and here's 14 paragraphs on how awesome it was" like it started from ground zero.
Many groups of people throughout history were no more in a "subsistence, hand-to-mouth" era than much of modern Africa is in a "place of tremendous abundance" today. You are making vast generalizations that cannot be supported. The knowledge of how to grow food was what allowed the creation of empires - of ruling classes and soldier classes and merchant classes and professional classes. Ancient Rome did not make its contributions to government, law, language, culture, technology and architecture by being a hand-to-mouth society. People in ancient Egypt would not have been building pyramids if they were all (or even mostly) at a subsistence level of living.
If you want to suggest specific changes/additions/subtractions to the current text, I welcome that. But it is unacceptable to simply replace what is currently a comprehensive, well-reference document with an unreferenced one that gives undue weight to certain time periods and (especially) geographic locations, as well as having some facts that are downright wrong. Dana boomer (talk) 04:14, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Please read a few pages from here, and this essay. I'm not talking about the invention of agriculture, which is obviously the centre stage. However, by about 3,000BC, with the onset of intensive agriculture, irrigation, plows and so forth, very little changed until the modern era. This is a statement of fact. That's not to say things didn't happen, but the basic nature of a subsistence economy was always there. I think you misunderstand what subsistence economy is. It doesn't mean that everyone is desperately cramming what they find in their mouth with no time to build a pyramid or two, it means that the vast majority of population engage in agriculture, which was the case until the early 19th century.

To be constructive, let me delineate stuff that is really needed. A paragraph clearly explaining significance - that BAR allowed the breaking of malthusian trap, pop explosion and industrialization, through rational, empirical and later scientific methodologies. The process of enclosure, Norfolk system of rotation, early mechanisation (seed drill, iron plough, threshing machine, steam power are the essentials), the first artificial fertilizers (1840s). A para on the creation of a truly global market in late 1800s, with steamships and rail. This is really the bare minimum. As I mentioned earlier a whole section on the Green revolution is just crazy. Why is there a separate history article, if the material on this page is more in depth?

If you want the earlier sections left as they are, then that's fine. I'm also open to modifying or shortening the text and adding more refs.Noodleki (talk) 11:49, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

The trouble is the article is already verging on too long. I personally agree the BAR needs more coverage, and said so above (I don't think the present (DB) version is adequate), but I'm not au fait with current historical debates over it - of course anything important attracts these. But it's not true to say that until the BAR everything was subsistence agriculture - the Roman empire depended on "international" movements of basic agricultural products, and had substantial parts of the population not engaged in agriculture, as Roman authors kept complaining. I think you should work together to get more on the BAR period in, & ideally agree some stuff elsewhere that can go to the history or other articles. Meanwhile our subsistence economy does not agree with the definition you use above, & is short and poorly-referenced. That's not to say it's wrong - this useful basic textbook discussion rather seems to support it. Expanding that would be good. Johnbod (talk) 14:30, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Fair enough. I plan to work on this tonight, so can do some work on the Modern developments section with regard to the above. There is some information duplicated between the Green revolution section and other areas of the article, so I think there is fat that can be trimmed there. Longer reply tonight. Dana boomer (talk) 16:04, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Update: I've spent the past bit trimming some fat from a couple of sections and re-building the layout of the history section, which gives me some room to add the above requested material. My goal with article size is to keep the word count under 10,000; it's currently at just over 9,300, so I have a bit of play. I need to go for a bit (horses to feed!), but will work on expansion afterwards. Noodleki, as I've said before, the reason this article is better than the History of agriculture article is because people have actually been working on this one. Also, the HoA article is over 6,000 words, while the history section of this article is below 3,500. That is hardly more in depth. The HoA article will surely grow beyond its current size to eventually be comprehensive, while the history section in this article won't (or at least not by much, as I'm trimming about as much as I'm adding, to keep the word count stable). More later. Dana boomer (talk) 21:38, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

(undent)Noodleki, stop making changes like this one. You replaced a completely sourced section on the Columbian exchange with a completely unsourced one, and added a ton of other unreferenced material. This article is going for GA, that means it needs to be sourced. I just said I was going to be working on expanding the material you wanted expanding, and I will use some of your sources, but please stop jumping in and adding unreferenced material all over the place. Dana boomer (talk) 23:13, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Noodleki, I am in the middle of major work on the article - please stop adding/changing material, as it is causing major edit conflicts. I have again reverted your last edit, because it created undue weight on the BAR, added unreliable (or very old) sources and unsourced material, and generally screwed up the edit that I was working on. Please wait until I am done adding information that you asked for, using some of your sources, and then add further stuff or further comments. Dana boomer (talk) 23:50, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
OK, so far I have expanded the information on global trade, turning it into its own paragraph. I have added information on the Malthusian trap. I have reduced the focus on the Green Revolution, integrating it into the existing discussion of increases in production in the 20th century. Added info on first fertilizer. Adding 6000kb on the BAR is way too much, but I hope we can come to some compromise, as I have already added over 2000. More shortly, still working. Dana boomer (talk) 00:06, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Now have expanded mechanization paragraph. Horse and steam powered equipment was already discussed. Still working. I'm going off of Noodleki's wishlist from their 11:49, 16 January 2014 comment above. User:Johnbod, do you think this expansion is acceptable, or are we going too far the way of excess? Dana boomer (talk) 00:35, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Noodleki, I'm going off of your diff to add information to the article, and a major problem that I'm having with it is that you appear to be dumping in information without making sure that it is correct, properly referenced, or doesn't duplicate material already in the article (or all three). For example, you replaced a sourced pair of sentences on the Haber-Bosch method with an unsourced trio of sentences on the same subject. You added the sentence "Dan Albone constructed the first commercially successful gasoline-powered general purpose tractor in 1901" and then source it to an article that says nothing of the sort (and which in fact says the first successful gas tractor was developed by someone else almost a decade earlier). You add a sentence on the Corn Laws, again sourced to an article that says nothing of the sort, and don't both to check to make sure the ref still works. You add refs to the town websites extolling the virtues of whatever invention was created there, rather than high-quality book sources, and you add book sources that are over 70 years old! This does not improve the article, and although your additions have gotten better (and smaller), they're still extremely problematic. Now, can you please look through what I've added so far (keeping in mind that I'm still tweaking some things and will be adding a bit more) to see what your current opinion is? Given that scholars disagree on the time period, but agreement generally ranges somewhere between 1560 and 1880, we now have much greater weight on this time period (two sections worth, although a bit of the global exchange section predates this) than on any other time period. Please don't just keep adding variations on your copy paste job, actually look at what I've written and see what needs tweaking (not completely overwriting with poor sources, poor facts and poor organization). Dana boomer (talk) 00:53, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
OK, at this point I think I have the majority of the information in. Noodleki, please let me know if there is additional information that still needs to go in. Please do not just overwrite the section with poorly sourced information that, when it is sourced, takes its scholarship from the 1960s. If you do make additions, please make them in small sections, so it is easy to confirm what was added, deleted or modified, rather than overwriting entire sections. Please also make sure to read the information and sources you are adding to make sure they are correct. It is disappointing to have to say this to an established editor, but further research into your previous edits has shown that your copy-and-paste style does more damage than good when applied to an already-high-quality article. If there are specific spots you think should be taken out or trimmed, please let me know, although please be specific, not just a general "majority of pre-BAR history needs to be moved to the history article"-type comments. Dana boomer (talk) 02:15, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Hello. I came across the recent debate and edit warring on this article, and I carefully looked over the recent material that Noodleki and Dana Boomer added to this article regarding the British Agricultural Revolution and related, modern technologies. After the additions and synthesis that Dana has provided, the topic is now thoroughly covered, with well-written, balanced, sourced prose. Noodleki had brought up some important points, and I think they've been all appropriately dealt with it Dana Boomer's recent edits. I'm happy to see this, and I hope there are no further problems with edit warring on this article. Quadell (talk) 13:12, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
I'd broadly agree, but I think there is still some scope for further improvement, with the size of the article a big constraining factor - it's now bursting. Noodleki, please propose changes here first, so we avoid further to and fro reverting. I hope you will both work on the History article, where there is more space, as well. Most of the stuff removed here can go there. Johnbod (talk) 13:03, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

(undent)Noodleki, you are still adding in poorly sourced or unsourced, redundant, undue weight information. Please see above for why many of your sources are not acceptable. I have made numerous changes and additions to the article to attempt to address your points, without receiving a response from you. Please discuss here. Your edits are beginning to become disruptive, as you are continually reducing the quality of the article sourcing, not improving it. Dana boomer (talk) 23:08, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

What are the poor sources?Noodleki (talk) 23:14, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Please read all of the comments above since your last post here. If you still have questions after that, please let me know, and I will attempt to clarify. Dana boomer (talk) 23:24, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
It was rectified. Good sources, and so on. I don't understand what your objections are. Please go thru sources on the left side here and identify which one/s you object to. Thank you.Noodleki (talk) 23:31, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
No, it was not rectified. You are still replacing well-sourced information with unsourced information (Haber-Bosch process), adding old sources (1944), moving things around to leave at least one paragraph without a reference (see sentence ending "regarding agriculture in Britain."), and adding information to sections where the sources say nothing of the sort (the Overton BBC source says nothing about Townshend popularizing the four-field rotation). In the paragraph on global trade, you have removed a source, and replaced some wording that had a global focus with information focused on the US and Britain. You changed one sentence to say that "New agricultural practices like enclosure, mechanization, four-field crop rotation and selective breeding enabled an unprecedented population growth," when in fact the source says a narrow-minded focus on these four areas was the traditional understanding of the BAR, and that scholarship on the topic has changed. In general, your additions are adding WP:UNDUE weight to a topic - all of the detail that you are adding belongs in the BAR and history articles, not this article. There has already been a significant amount of material added to the article on this topic - it is already verging on being undue weight, and you are attempting to add in over 3,000 bytes more of further detail. In addition, your changes focus on an outdated view of the BAR, popular until the 1960s, that determined the BAR was basically the product of a few great men - this has been largely dis-proven, with multiple modern sources stating that, while successful in some areas (especially publicizing their own importance), the impact of these men was originally quite overstated. Dana boomer (talk) 23:52, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
I don't know what you've got against Polanyi, he was one of the most influential economic historians of the 20th century. The point being made is also completely uncontentious - that large-scale enclosures ocurred. Despite this, there are other sources as well. I get the impression that you think a small para of info on the commercialization of ag is undue; - it was actually the fundamental structural change responsible for increased productivity, more important than mechanization in that one enabled the other, and wasn't mentioned at all, previously. Enclosure, mechanization, four-field crop rotation and selective breeding were certainly the key points, no one disputes that. Look at the Dictionary of Human Geography source, a clear, concise enyclopedic, up-to-date summary of the topic. About Great Man theory - I think you misunderstand nuances of debate. yes, structural socio-economic change is the most important agent, but equally, it was specific people in the historical record who did things. Tull did invent a seed drill, Meikle did invent a threshing machine, and Bakewell did pioneer selective breeding on a systematic basis. No one disputes this, it's merely a matter of acknowledging that their activities were part of a more significant and broader context. About US and Britain sentence - expansion in global trade generally is quite misleading. There wasn't a general global network of food trade, it was the UK that dropped food tarrifs in 1846 and the UK that was essentially deluged with foreign, mainly American, crops. A simialr process did not really hapen elsewhere: Germany and France kept high tarrifs with the vast majority of food supply being domestically provided.
About particular issues, like sourcing for Townshend and for Haber-Bosch - I can easily rectify that (it makes sense to combine material on fertilizer in 1 section). I appreciate the good work that you've done, but I really can't understand why you think this is UNDUE. There is vast amounts on the Middle Ages - do you really think that this is more important than explaining how agriculture became commercialized, and how sustained rises in productivity were achieved? Have you ever seen a historical population graph? - it's flat until 1700, when it begins to shoot up at an ever increasing rate. In the big picture, this is what matters- its the all important shift into a new gear, it renders past events as minor. Compare: a history of economic history that is worried about UNDUE attention to Industrial Revolution and instead devotes reams of attention to glass-production in medieval Venice. Economic growth has a similar graph - flat followed by an explosion. Its not chauvinism or 'recentism' to devote more space to more recent and smaller historical timespans, if it is particularly important. In this case, when 2% of a rich country's population grows enough food to make everyone else obese (!), and you wonder why, the answer doesn't lie in the Bronze Age or the Middle Ages.
If you want to keep the word count down, then shortening material from Bronze Age or Middle Ages is the way to go, rather than not mentioning how agriculture became a market commodity.Noodleki (talk) 10:02, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
I've commented below Quadell up above. Johnbod (talk) 13:03, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments, User:Johnbod. Would you mind clarifying if you think that the "removals" you mention should come from the other sections, or from the 3000b of info that Noodleki is proposing, or some mix of the two? Noodleki, part of the problem that I'm having with your material is that it focuses on details - saying that so-and-so invented a threshing machine, while there is already info in the article about how horse-drawn threshing machines revolutionized grain harvesting. The same with "In 1789 Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies was producing 86 plough models for different soils." - an interesting factoid, but hardly necessary for a broad overview of agriculture. The details can go in the history article, or the BAR article, but don't need to be in a broad overview article. At the moment there are three paragraphs on the Middle Ages, all of which discuss important social, technical and climactic changes, so I'm not sure what would be cut. Do you have specific suggestions? The info on the period from 1600-1900 covers six paragraphs, a significant amount more weight. More weight is given to this period than to almost anything else in the article, much less the history section. As opposed to your metaphor above, it would be like devoting reams to the Industrial Revolution and then being like "oh yeah, and then we invented computers and stuff. The end."
Also, for some of the specific comments above: why do you need to source information on the Haber-Bosch process? There is already sourced information in the article. Bakewell, while his work did improve the New Leicester sheep, was a complete failure with other breeds, and at least one modern source says that basically the thing he was best at was publicizing his own work. However, this article is not the place to detail that discussion. WRT the global trade, it is important to note that not just the US got rail networks - Latin America and East Asia did too - and that rail networks allowed countries/continents to better trade within their borders, not just with Europe. We already say that cereal crop yield increased, we don't need to give specific numbers for one crop (that is for the History article, or the BAR article, or the wheat article, or all three).
I'm OK with your paragraph starting "Premodern agriculture across Europe was characterized by the feudal open field system," but please double check that the sources actually cover the information given and that the sources are in order - page numbers for books and journal articles, etc. I've also made a few tweaks in the first paragraph to incorporate some of your wording. Dana boomer (talk) 14:09, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

I don't know how I can make this clearer. If the entire Middle Ages section was removed the broad historical outline would remain. Remember that graph. Flat and then boom. Bakewell is generally regarded as one of BAR's major figures, being the major figure behind improvements in selective breeding, according to absolutely everyone. I dunno why you think he was a great publicist - as a matter of fact very little is known about him. Global trade, I can only repeat what I said before - the trade in food in 19th century basically only affected England after the tariffs went down, from North American crops to Australian refrigerated meat. It is completely misleading to refer to a general expansion. East Asia - I assume you mean railways in India - this had no impact on global trade at all, Latin America was also little. TRade within borders? a) thats not what the paragraph is addressing and b) Hang on, wot an excellent idea! An extra paragraph on how improved transport networks, (canals, macadam roads and later rail) created a big internal market for food in late 18th century, removing local scarcity problems for ever.

Mentioning Ransomes is important - it provides scope and context. Instead of some guy invented an implement, it shows how that implement was actually used by landowners and how companies competed to improve the process - a crucial element in the game. Meikle's implement was also of great importance and was followed by a similar continual prcess of improvement.

If anything the article attaches undue weight to the green revolution. This was just an export of preexisting techniques to Asia and elsewhere - rather than being transformative in itself. Text on changes in climate in middle ages can be removed or drastically cut, as can info on what crops they grew, and overly detailed stuff on the manorial system and mulboard ploughs.Noodleki (talk) 16:11, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

The content of the Middle Ages section was developed from comments from others users, see the discussions above. I find it interesting that you think a one-sentence explanation of the manorial system is overly detailed, but that a full paragraph on the enclosure system is acceptable. Or that a half-sentence mention of the mouldboard plow is too much, but that the current three sentences on plows in the Modern developments section needs more. The Green Revolution section consists of one paragraph on a major development in agriculture - it may not have been a technological development, but it was a development that saved millions. If you want to base coverage on population growth, we should be focusing on the early 1900s, when the population doubled from 2 to 4 billion in less than 50 years... With global trade, it's not just about food, it's also about raw materials. And in addition, I said within the borders of continents (with continents with a bunch of small countries), or within the borders of countries, like the US, so it fits within the range of this paragraph. And no, this section is already bloated, we are not going to keep tossing in extra paragraphs on this and that. An extra sentence, maybe. An extra paragraph, no. Regarding Bakewell, take this description from Overton (a source that you added!): "Robert Bakewell...was an excellent publicist with a keen eye for the commercial main chance: his major contribution was in formalizing and publicizing the methods of selective breeding." The book then goes on to list half a dozen men who contributed as much or more to selective breeding than Bakewell. When sources disagree, or when there has been a historical change in opinion (as here), the best place to discuss the change is not in a major overview article. If we add in that some sources basically deify Bakewell for his contributions to selective breeding, we're also going to have to add in the sources that say that he was only as important as all these other breeders. If we go into selective breeding too much, we're going to have to discuss how some sources now think that many of the improvements took place earlier in history. Again, Overton: "...the increase in the size of cattle took place between the Middle Ages and the 16th century, rather than later...improvements in wool and mutton yields took place before the breed developments of the late eighteenth century..." My point in bringing this up is not to say that all of this should be in this article, it's to show why the discussion of these things needs to be in the History article, where there is room to expand on them, not in this broad overview article. Bakewell is already mentioned in the article, as are the main four points that you want mentioned. I again find it interesting that you think we could completely remove the Middle Ages change from a two-field to a three-field rotation, but want to spend additional time discussing the four-crop rotation in the Modern development section. I have added in mentions, or even entire paragraphs, on the main things you initially wanted discussed (see your first "wish list", from several days ago), and now you're asking for even more. Dana boomer (talk) 17:14, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
It's tedious repeating yourself: Yes, modern developments were vastly more important. Do you know what the middle ages were like? Periodic famine, constantly. I think you need to read a book on this, because you are simply not arriving at a proper perspective. The paragraph that I added on the commercialization of agriculture is quite literally essential. As I have explained previously, the shift from feudal methods to a capitalistic framework is the key. If you cannot understand that at least 1 paragraph on that is more neccessary than endless information on the climate on the Middle Ages, then we have a big problem.
We aren't discussing global trade in 'raw materials', are we. We're looking at food. Borders within continents. I don't know what your general knowledge of history is like, but if you imagine that people in China, Nepal and Persia were engaged in modern trade in the 19th century, then this also a problem. I don't understand all that stuff you wrote on Bakewell - but its actually simple. He was a pivotal figure, and this is universally recognized. You seem to misunderstand these sources. Sure they argue back and forth over what he did, she did , didn't ladeda - he's important. By the way, your not doing me a favour by adding stuff in - this is a collaborative project and I am trying to correct glaring gaps in the article.Noodleki (talk) 17:51, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Um, we are discussing global trade in agriculture, and agriculture includes raw materials such as cotton and wool. Food is not the only agricultural product. Also, if you are referring to the paragraph "Premodern agriculture across Europe was characterized by the feudal open field system,", I have said above that I have no problem with that paragraph being returned to the article, as long as the sourcing is brought up to standards that correspond to the sources already in the article - page numbers, volume numbers, etc. As you added the material, I'm sure you have easy access to the sources, which is why I will not complain if you readd that paragraph with proper sourcing. Short reply - I'm on the road. Dana boomer (talk) 02:06, 21 January 2014 (UTC)


I noticed the GA-nomination and was pleasantly surprised to see a top-level topic nominated. Overall, it looks like a very good article.

But why does only Europe gets any treatment for the period from the 1st to the 16th centuries? It doesn't seem as if there is any definition of agriculture that is specifically "medieval" or that it would be important than, say, development in the Americas or East Asia.

Peter Isotalo 15:57, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

The article does contain info about other civilizations during that time period.
  • "The Mayan culture developed several innovations in agriculture during its peak, which ranged from 400 BC to 900 AD and was heavily dependent upon agriculture to support its population. The Mayans used extensive canal and raised field systems to farm the large portions of swampland on the Yucatán Peninsula."
  • "During the medieval period, the Arab world was critical in the exchange of crops and technology between the European, Asia and African continents. Besides transporting numerous crops, they introduced the concept of summer irrigation to Europe and developed the beginnings of the plantation system of sugarcane growing through the use of slaves for intensive cultivation."
  • "A similar plough, which may have developed independently, was also found in China as early as the 9th century."

AioftheStorm (talk) 16:13, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Yes, three minor examples in all, and two of them are used merely to contexutalize European developments. Compare that with three entire paragraphs for medieval Europe with lots of specifics. That does not seem like a balanced treatment of the history of this topic.
Peter Isotalo 18:36, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Paragraph 1 contains one sentence specific to Europe:
  • "During this time period, monasteries spread throughout Europe and became important centers for the collection of knowledge related to agriculture and forestry."
Almost half of that paragraph deals specifically to the Arab world.
Paragraph 2 contains 7 sentences on agricultural technology in Europe, and I agree that some of this could be generalized to Asia.
The beginning of paragraph 3 could state the main staples of the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. Other than that I really don't think it that Eurocentric. Additionally there is more info on this time period elsewhere in the article such as:
  • "The later Three Kingdoms and Northern and Southern dynasties (221–581 AD) brought the first biological pest control, extensive writings on agricultural topics and technological innovations such as steel and the wheelbarrow."
In general it would be more useful to cite specific omissions in the article of major technology or agricultural events from outside Europe.AioftheStorm (talk) 19:03, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
I think you're missing the main issue here. The Middle Ages is a specifically European period of history. It can't be used to describe history from a global perspective. And with just one exception ("Classical gas") all sources used for "Middle Ages" are explicitly limited to European history, and the content reflects this.
The idea that European developments can be "generalized" would be pure speculation. For example, manorialism is an aspect of European feudalism. That it is applicable Asia (an extremely varied continent) is completely implausible. I would have tried to double-check this part, but the link is dead.
Peter Isotalo 19:50, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
I agree with the name Middle Ages being Eurocentric, perhaps it should be changed to Postclassical Era? In my above statement I said, very specifically, that some of the agricultural technology in the 2nd paragraph could be generalized to Asia, particularly the windmill which I believe was invented in Asia, and I'm not familiar with it but iron smelting, animal harvesting, and crop rotation might be generalizable elsewhere. Similarly the entrance to the 3rd paragraph can introduce the main staple crops around the world instead of just Europe's. Other than that I'm not seeing any obvious ways to include info from other continents or any obvious omissions of major agricultural advances from other continents. Could you provide an example of something that you believe should be added?AioftheStorm (talk) 04:39, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
Hi guys - I have no problem with changing the title of the section. If there is anything we can do to make the section more global, I'm all for it. However, please note that we are working under major size constraints, especially give the lengthy discussion above, which is unfortunately having the effect of making the article more focused on Europe (especially Britain), rather than less. Any comments on either of these articles would be appreciated. I'll go check out the dead link that Peter mentioned... Dana boomer (talk) 13:27, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
Changing the title won't really solve the problem since the content is focused and constructed around the framework of medieval Europe. It's really simple: any ref that has "Middle Ages" or "medieval" in the title it is not going to have a global perspective. Here are two examples of refs that cover the agricultural history of other major regions:
I'm not very familiar with agricultural history specifically, but I am familiar with history writing in general. And it's obvious that the source material for the period around the European Middle Ages is too selective for an article like this. For example, slash-and-burn techniques aren't taken into consideration, even though it was very common historically before it gave way to more advanced farming. If you're worried about size, try to consider my comments about generalizing. For example, are medieval crop rotation practices or the cultivation of Greenland and Iceland really all that relevant?
Peter Isotalo 14:31, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Copyright problem removed[edit]

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Farming and Husbandry[edit]

The first sentence of the article has been disputed it currently reads

Agriculture, also called farming or husbandry, is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi, and other life forms for food, fiber, biofuel, medicinals and other products used to sustain and enhance human life.[1]

with the underlined section being the controversy. Agriculture and husbandry, I would agree are different concepts but almost every definition of agriculture I can find says it is farming. See which says "the science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, raising crops, and feeding, breeding, and raising livestock; farming". The source there also seems to use farming as a synonym for agriculture in places. I have approved the latest edit and notified relevant editors of this section of the talk page. SPACKlick (talk) 11:12, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

Most definitions outside the Agricultural community, do use Farming and Agriculture synonymously, the reason being that the primary form of agriculture engaged in in the west is Farming (I.e., The practice of agriculture by specialists on land dedicated to its purpose and physicaly removed from the population it serves.). I will list examples of agriculture that is not farming below.
Gardening is agriculture but not farming, as it is preformed by the person who intends to use the product, and is conducted at or near the location of use.
Aboriginal forest Agriculture (For lack of a better term) is the process used by the early inhabitants of the amazon, this is the process that gave us Terra preta
Furthermore if the agriculture portal is reviewed it makes no claim that it is a Synonym. Additionally the page Farm (Wich should probably be farming) exists and is extensive, outside of the agriculture page.
as a personal note: We must be careful to not allow modern and or western prejudice degrade the quality of our work, and i believe that is exactly what allowing farming and agriculture to remain synonymous in definition on Wikipedia is.NicholasCarlough (talk) 11:35, 16 September 2014 (UTC)
please note I have indented your comments for easy reading, you cna do this by placing " : "'s at the start of each line of your comment
Since you agree most sources outside of the specialism will refer to the two synonymously it should be in the lede, the specific details of the difference should be referred in the text. However I dispute your examples of agriculture that are not examples of farming. People who grow vegetables and the like for themselves in their garden will have been known to refer to themselves as Garden Farmers. See the article on Urban agriculture for more. See also subsistence farming which would not meet your definition of farming. I can find little on a quick search for the agriculture that caused Terra Preta so I can't comment on that.
I think this is a case of words having specialised uses within a subject and a more general use elsewhere. The lede of the article should reflect the article and the article should be accesible to a common rather than specialist audience. I believe excluding farming reduces the utility of this article. I would suggest re-introducing Farming to the lead and if you can find sources for the distinction making it within the article text SPACKlick (talk) 13:20, 16 September 2014 (UTC)