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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.
Pictured right: Pigs on a farm
There are various methods of pig farming depending on the method of management adopted. Variables include:
- Money or capital available
- The type of animals kept
- Local requirements and market conditions
- The level of management skills
Pigs can be farmed in free range, being allowed to wander around a village, kept in fields, or tethered in a simple house. In developed countries, farming has moved away from traditional pig farming and are now typically intensively farmed. Today, hog operations are significantly larger than in the past, with most large-scale farms housing 5,000 or more pigs in climate-controlled buildings. With 100 million hogs slaughtered each year, these efficiencies deliver affordable meat for consumers and larger profits for producers.
Individual farm management focuses on housing facilities, feeding and ventilation systems, temperature and environmental controls and the economic viability of their operations. Just as producers have to determine profit margins and types of facilities and equipment for their farm, they must also find the practices that best fit their specific situation. Some procedures and treatments are known to stress the animals and producers should consider the animals' welfare, health and management in correspondence with accepted husbandry skills.
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. 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.
Categories: Sustainable agriculture, Sustainability
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