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Technology may not have advanced a great deal, but the processes made agriculture efficient enough to sustain the empire's large cities, making it a necessary industry. The Middle East continued to see much innovation in the agricultural industries, something that historians refer to as The Arab Agricultural Revolution This was thanks to the diversity of the local topographies, the crops grown in the Middle East and Indus Valley that European societies coveted, and later acted as a trade bridge between Far East and Europe In Europe, little changed before the rise of the kingdoms around the 11 th century when the Church became major landholders and traders, leaders, educators and held both temporal and spiritual powers.

The systems instigated through feudalism, whether secular lords or church holdings, sought to improve yields with the growing population, and naturally we saw significant technological advances in this period too It was a period of massive selective cross-breeding, particularly in animal livestock, and systems of organisation. In some areas of Europe, we can see the remnants of the agricultural system today in the form of medieval ridge and furrow strip farming. Floodplains were drained, wild woodlands converted to plains and bracken cleared for pasture, areas with low fertility were converted or altered to make proper use of them 14 ; for example, barley grows well on salty soil, making it ideal to grow on floodplains.


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Modern agricultural practices saw its final modern development in the 16 th century when farmers came up with crop rotation - the idea that one could increase yields by switching land use around every year in order not to exhaust the soil. One year the field would have crops planted, the following year it would be used for livestock and the third it would be kept fallow Though earlier societies had used it to a certain extent, only in the 16 th century was the method perfected. Mass agricultural practices were not particularly present in North America until the arrival of the European colonists.

It's certainly not true that the Native Americans had no agriculture; indeed, there is evidence for some limited agricultural practices 16 but it was not universal across the tribes. Some were completely nomadic and some were largely static - these were not geographical either, some tribes in the east had completely domesticated crops. When we look at the south-western states, particularly Arizona and New Mexico, we see agriculture on an industrial scale - especially the cultivation of maize crops that were introduced from modern Mexico, the rest of Mesoamerica and beyond.

It is likely that agriculture came to the North America relatively late, perhaps between and BC and we see it extensively with such civilizations as the Hohokam, the Anasazi and ancient Pueblos 17 , possibly developing in Mesoamerica around BC with the domestication of maize. In Mesoamerica and South America, with the Inca, the Maya, Olmecs and the Aztecs, relatively early development of agriculture permitted the building of enormous cities that impressed the European colonizers; it was quickly identified that these civilizations had an impressive agriculture-based economy that stood on a par with Europe, challenging what was then understood about the development of civilization.

In Mesoamerica it was corn and in South America it was the humble potato 18 - today the staple crop of most people in the western world, along with coca and the domestication of animal species such as llama and alpaca. The three field crop rotation system was replaced with a four field system and sweeping enclosure acts regulated land management, selective cross-breeding began on an industrial scale to increase crop size as well as yields creating several cultivars in the process.

New Perspectives on the History of Life Sciences and Agriculture | Denise Phillips | Springer

Animal husbandry also improved, leading to a greater surplus than had been permissible under the old system. It is said that these changes permitted the industrial revolution and even greater concentration of urban development, fueling the empire. How so? More crops for fewer workers, better methods of keeping and replacing nutrients in the soil meant that more people could work in industry. Let's see if we can help you! According to the UNDP predictions, population worldwide is expected to increase to 9 billion in from the present 7 billion 4. Therefore, the uncertain growth in population is expected to affect food demand and therefore food production.

Further, in emerging economies, food consumption is increasing with increased preference for animal protein such as meat, dairy products, and egg. Therefore, the growth of consumption of animal protein has increased the necessity of grazing of livestock, therefore, increasing further pressure on the food supply.


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It is believed that the increase in the demand for food due to the increase in global population and change in dietary habit of the population. In the past, the demand for food and the rate of production has remained at par, but the unequal distribution of food has led to the major problem in food supply and starvation in various parts of the world. Another problem that food production in the future faces is the constraint of non-renewable natural resources.

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The most critical resources, which are becoming scant for the future generations are —. The question of sustainability in agriculture arose due to some pressing issues that have limited the utilization of erstwhile processes and technologies for food production. However, it should be noted that sustainable agriculture does not prescribe any set rule or technology for the production process, rather shows a way towards sustainability 8. Sustainable agriculture uses best management practice by adhering to target-oriented cultivation.

The agriculture process looks at disease-oriented hybrid, pest control through use of biological insecticides and low usage of chemical pesticide and fertilizer. Usually, insect-specific pest control is used, which is biological in nature. Water given to the crops is through micro-sprinklers which help is directly watering the roots of the plants, and not flooding the field completely. The idea is to manage the agricultural land for both plants and animal husbandry. The process uses integrated pest management that helps in reducing the amount of pesticide used in cultivation.

The Agricultural Revolution: Crash Course World History #1

Sustainable agriculture adopts green technology as a means of reducing wastage of non-renewable energy and increase production. In this respect, the sustainable agricultural technology is linked to the overall developmental objective of the nation and is directly related to solving socio-economic problems of the nation Soil is not just another ingredient for cultivation like pesticides or fertilizers; rather, it is a complex and fragile medium that must be nurtured to ensure higher productivity Therefore, the health of the soil can be maintained using eco-friendly methods:.

Healthy soil, essential to agriculture, is a complex, living medium. The loose but coherent structure of good soil holds moisture and invites airflow. Ants a and earthworms b mix the soil naturally. Photo: Barbara Damrosch Among those cultural practices I include:. Crop rotation: Firmin Bear of Rutgers stated that a well-planned crop rotation was worth 75 percent of everything else the farmer did. Green manures: Deep-rooting legumes not only fix nitrogen, penetrate hardpan and greatly increase soil aeration but also bring up new mineral supplies from the lower depths of the soil.

Mixed Stocking: Raising animals and crops on the same farm has both symbiotic and practical benefits. The crop residues feed the animals and the animal manures feed the soil. Undersowing: Establishing a green manure crop underneath the growing cash crop can often double organic matter production in the course of the year without any effect on the cash crop. Rock Powders: The slow, measured availability to plants of mineral amendments calcium, phosphorus, potassium, etc. Enhancing biodiversity: This includes practices such as growing a wide range of crops, sowing pastures with many different forbs in addition to grasses and legumes, carrying a mixture of livestock, establishing hedgerows for wildlife habitat, and so forth.

The more components involved, the more stable the system. The aim of a biologically based agriculture is to cultivate ease and order rather than battle futilely against disease and disorder. But, can you really farm that way? Can a successful agriculture be conducted by simply combining the known effects of natural processes with the management provided by intelligent human understanding of how to nourish those processes?

If such an agriculture can work and could be made universal, then this new agriculture would be truly sustainable and have the power to transform the world. Back in , when I began farming, none of us paid attention to whether agricultural science approved of our biological approach. We started farming with compost and cultural practices because the ideas made sense and, lo and behold, they worked. Alternative agricultural research today is showing that we were pretty astute. Studies are appearing almost too fast to read them all.

But even genetic resistance makes no difference if negative growing conditions inhibit the expression of the genes. In USDA research to determine why tomatoes growing in mulch of vetch green manure were more disease resistant and longer lived than identical tomatoes with black plastic mulch, Kumar et al. The recent study by Brian Halweil, Still No Free Lunch, presents a very complete picture of the relationship between plant breeding, high chemical fertilizer use, and the decline in nutritional value of what we eat.

A few forward-thinking scientists around the world are starting to look into biological issues, and they are finding that the system that biological farmers have been creating for the past years is as good as they have claimed it to be. How could these ideas have been so obvious, so logically presented, and yet so consistently ignored by the majority of agricultural scientists?

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Tracing the Evolution of Organic / Sustainable Agriculture (TESATopic)

Let me explain it metaphorically. Imagine if you will, an enormous tapestry hanging from the ceiling of a grand hall. The tapestry depicts the natural world in all its elegance. Subsoil and topsoil, plowed fields and green pastures, prairies and forests, valleys and mountains, sea and sky are all crisply represented.

There are creatures large and small, birds and fishes, bacteria and fungi, predator and prey and the dynamic balances between them. You can also see farmers interacting harmoniously with that living world.

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There is, however, a great buzz of noise coming from the other side. With its stray colors and loose threads, it gives only a vague picture of what is truly represented. What you find there are enormous crowds of people actively trying to decipher what they see and trying to solve problems that only exist on the backside of the tapestry.

From where they stand, the vagueness of the tapestry has convinced them that nature is incompetent and needs a great deal of help from mankind to straighten her out.


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On the contrary; many of them are brilliant. Their leading scientific disciplines such as Discordant Thread Theory and Random Color Hypothesis are highly respected and extensively researched. The university Department of Untrimmed Ends enrolls many student applicants, eager to make careers in the field.

The History of Agriculture

A multitude of learned disquisitions are published in numerous scholarly journals. Huge industrial complexes have arisen in concert with their line of thinking and countless tons of stimulating and controlling substances are produced every year. However, when you step back to the front side of the tapestry, there are no flaws to be seen. As you study the front side more thoroughly you begin to see the patterns involved. You notice that the agricultural practices of the front side farmers are designed to replicate the directions in which the natural world wants to go anyway.

You notice how those practices have been selected to enhance the systems with which they interact. This is a biological agriculture and it will continue as long as the earth abides. They have trouble understanding what I call a plant-positive approach strengthening the plant through optimum growing conditions to prevent pests as opposed to the conventional pest-negative approach killing the pests that prey on weak plants.