Agriculture is defined as the science of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock to be marketed and sold.
Agriculture has several segments to it. The different types of agriculture include: Nomadic Herding, Livestock Ranching, Shifting Cultivation, Rudimentary Sedentary Tillage, Intensive Subsistence Farming, Commercial Plantations, Mediterranean Agriculture, Commercial Grain Farming, Mixed Farming, Dairy Farming, and Specialized Horticulture. This list may seem kind of overwhelming if you don’t know what some of the above words mean. To simply put it, agriculture is divided into types based on the end product, geographical area of practice, weather influence, how land is used, and the lifestyle of the farmers.
The history of agriculture goes back to the first civilizations in the Middle East (Fertile Crescent), Central America, and China. The start of agriculture is marked by the origin of cultivation, rather than the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Some of the first crops included corn (teosinte), rice, potatoes, and squash.
As people developed better technology and knowledge agriculture also made advancements enabling the process of growing food easier, and more reliable. The ancient Greeks are credited with some of the first advancements when it comes to grafting plants for advantageous traits. Soon this knowledge would also lead to advancements in animal farming.
In the 1700’s sheep and cattle would be bred for better meat and wool production making them a greater asset to people. Many advancements would be made over the coming centuries as Charles Darwin would publish his well known book On the Origins of Species and Friar Gregor Mendel would begin his pea plant experiments. As genetics became better understood we have pursued greater innovations allowing for less hunger worldwide and more sustainable practices.
Today agricultural practices in the United States are monitored by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). They are made up of 29 agencies whose purpose is to, “provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management.”
Agriculture is continually evolving to be better. One of the most important focuses of current progress is with regards to regenerative agriculture. This includes the advancement of sustainable practices. Today we realize how important soil health is not only for good food production, but to the longevity of our farms. Without healthy soils, how can we expect our land to be productive?