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The practice of cultivating land, growing food, and raising livestock. Agriculture is the practice of cultivating crops, raising animals, and other related activities that are used to produce food, fiber, and other materials. It is a key component of human civilization and has been practiced for thousands of years.

History[edit | edit source]

Agriculture is believed to have originated in several different parts of the world, including the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East and the Yangtze River Valley in China. Early agricultural practices involved planting and harvesting crops by hand, as well as raising animals for food and other materials. Over time, agricultural practices became more specialized and advanced, with the development of new technologies like irrigation systems, plows, and fertilizers. Today, agriculture is a highly specialized industry that is used to produce a wide range of crops and products.

Types of Agriculture[edit | edit source]

There are many different types of agriculture, each with its own unique characteristics and practices. Some of the most common types of agriculture include: Traditional agriculture, which involves manual labor and basic farming tools Industrial agriculture, which involves the use of heavy machinery and advanced technologies Organic agriculture, which emphasizes sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices Aquaculture, which involves the farming of fish and other aquatic organisms Agroforestry, which combines agriculture with the cultivation of trees and other plants Urban agriculture, which involves the cultivation of crops and the raising of animals in urban areas

Importance and Challenges[edit | edit source]

Agriculture is a vital industry that provides food and other materials for people around the world. It also plays an important role in the economy, providing jobs and income for millions of people.

Glossary of terms[edit | edit source]

  • agrarian system The dynamic set of economic and technological factors that affect agricultural practices in a particular region.
  • agrarianism A social or political philosophy which values rural society as superior to urban society and the independent farmer as superior to the paid worker. Agrarianism argues in favor of farming as a way of life that can shape ideal social values.
  • agribusiness The business of agricultural production, including the entire range of activities and disciplines encompassed by modern food and fiber production chains and those agents and institutions which influence them.
  • agricultural cooperative Also called a farmers' co-op or simply a co-op. Any association of farmers or agricultural businesses who voluntarily pool their resources in order to meet their common agricultural needs and goals by cooperating in a jointly owned enterprise. Agricultural cooperatives may be distinguished between "service" cooperatives, which provide inputs for agricultural production (seeds, fertilizers, fuels, etc.) or transportation and marketing services to members who run their farms individually, and "production" cooperatives, in which members run their farms jointly using shared land, machinery, or other resources; an example of the latter is collective farming.
  • agricultural economics The branch of economics concerned with the application of economic theory in optimizing the production and distribution of food, fiber, and other products of agriculture.
  • agricultural land Any land devoted solely to agriculture, i.e. the deliberate and systematic reproduction of living organisms in order to produce commodities that can be used by humans. In the broadest sense, agricultural land may also include certain types of land which are used only partially or seasonally for agricultural purposes, such as pastures and wild forests. Colloquially, the term is often used interchangeably with farmlandcropland, and arable land, though these terms may also be considered technically distinct.
  • agricultural productivity A measure of the economic productivity of a given quantity of agricultural land (or any other agricultural input), typically expressed as the ratio of agricultural outputs to agricultural inputs. In modern agricultural industries, "output" is often quantified as the market value of the agricultural product at the end of the production chain (i.e. immediately prior to its purchase by a consumer).
  • agriculture The science and art of cultivating plantsanimals, or other organisms in order to produce any of a variety of products that can be used by humans, most commonly food, fibers, fuels, and raw materials.
  • agrobiology The study of plant nutrition and growth, especially as a means of increasing crop yield.
  • agrology The branch of soil science concerning the production of crop plants. The term is often used interchangeably with agronomyagricultural science, and agricultural soil science.
  • agronomy The science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fiber, and land restoration.
  • algaculture A specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of algae with the goal of producing any of a variety of products that can be used by humans, including food ingredients, fertilizers, colorants and dyes, pharmaceuticals, and chemical feedstock.
  • apiculture Also called beekeeping. The maintenance of colonies of bees, commonly in man-made beehives, by humans for any of a variety of purposes, including collecting honey or other products created by bees, pollinating crops, and breeding bees for sale. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary and a person who practices apiculture is called an apiarist or beekeeper.
  • aquaculture Also called aquafarming. The cultivation of aquatic organisms, either freshwater or saltwater, including fishcrustaceansmolluscsaquatic plants, and others, with the goal of producing any of a variety of products that can be used by humans. Branches of aquaculture include pisciculturealgaculture, and mariculture.
  • artificial selection Also called selective breeding. The process by which humans use animal breeding and plant breeding to selectively control the development of particular phenotypic traits in organisms by choosing which individual organisms will reproduce and create offspring. Artificial selection involves the deliberate exploitation of knowledge about genetics and reproductive biology in the hope of producing desirable characteristics in descendant organisms. It is widely practiced in agriculture, but it may also be unintentional and may produce unintended results.biodynamic agriculture A type of alternative agriculture which incorporates holistic ecological approaches and aspects of organic and integrated farming but also emphasizes various esoteric perspectives, including spiritual and mystical beliefs about nature. The efficacy of biodynamic agricultural techniques lacks scientific evidence, and the practice has been labeled a pseudoscience.
  • biofuel Any fuel that is produced from recently living biomass, as opposed to fuels produced by slow geological processes such as fossil fuels. Biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel are commonly produced from agricultural energy crops.
  • bioturbation The mixing and turning of soil caused by organisms moving through the soil.[[[1]]]
  • broadacre An expansive parcel of land suitable for farms practicing large-scale crop production. The term is used primarily in Australia.
  • broadcast seeding A method of seeding that involves scattering seed over a relatively large and imprecise area, either by hand or mechanically, as opposed to precision seeding methods and hydroseeding. Broadcast seeding is easier and faster than seeding in rows but it usually requires more seed and may result in overcrowding and uneven distributions of plant cover. It is generally reserved for plants that do not have strict spacing or depth requirements or that are easily thinned after germination.
  • browsing A type of herbivory in which the herbivore feeds on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of relatively tall, woody plants such as shrubs and trees, as opposed to grazing, which involves feeding on grasses and other low-lying vegetation. Browsing may also refer to feeding on any non-grasses, including both woody and herbaceous dicots.
  • bumper crop Any crop that yields an unusually large or productive harvest.    
  • cash crop Also called a profit crop. Any crop that is grown so that it can be marketed and sold for profit, as opposed to a subsistence crop, which is grown for the producer's own use. While historically cash crops have often been only a small part of a farm's total yield, almost all modern crops in developed nations are grown primarily for revenue.
  • catch crop Any fast-growing crop that is grown between successive plantings of a primary crop on the same land. Its practice, known as catch cropping, is a type of succession planting.
  • cereal Any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain, composed of the endospermgerm, and bran. The term may also refer to the resulting grain itself (the "cereal grain"). Compare pseudocereal.
  • chemigation Often used interchangeably with fertigation. The practice of delivering any natural or synthetic chemical compound or mixture of compounds (such as fertilizerspesticidessoil amendments, etc.) to crop plants via the water supply used for irrigation.[[[2]]]
  • chillcuring citriculture The cultivation of citrus fruit trees.
  • co-op See agricultural cooperative.
  • collective farming Also called communal farming. Any type of agricultural production in which multiple farmers or producers run their holdings as a joint enterprise using shared land, water resources, machinery, equipment, or other agricultural inputs in order to meet common needs and goals. Communal farms may be either voluntary agricultural cooperatives or mandatory state farms owned and operated directly by a central government.
  • companion planting The practice of planting different crops in proximity for any of a number of different reasons, including as a means of controlling pests, aiding pollination, providing habitat for beneficial insects, maximizing the use of space, or otherwise increasing agricultural productivity. It is a type of polyculture.
  • contract farming Farming or other agricultural production carried out on the basis of an agreement between the buyer or consumer and the farmer or producer. Contracts typically involve the producer agreeing to supply certain quantities of a crop or other product according to quality standards and delivery requirements specified by the buyer, and the buyer agreeing to buy the product, often at a price that is established in advance; the buyer often also agrees to support the producer in various ways, e.g. by supplying inputs, assisting with land preparation, providing production advice, and helping to transport the finished product.
  • cover crop Any plant that is planted as soil cover rather than for the purpose of being harvested. Cover crops may be used to manage soil erosion, soil fertility, water content, weeds, pests, agricultural diseases, and biodiversity on land that is repeatedly farmed. They are commonly off-season crops planted after harvesting a cash crop in order to help conserve the integrity of the land through a fallow period.
  • crop residue Any organic material left in an agricultural field or orchard after a crop has been harvested, such as stalks and stems, leaves, seed pods, etc., or after a crop is processed for consumer use, such as seeds, husks, roots, bagasse, or other byproducts of processing. Field residues may be maintained as soil cover, burned, or ploughed into the soil as green manure; process residues are often used as animal fodder or soil amendments.
  • crop rotation The practice of cultivating a series of different crops in the same space over the course of multiple growing seasons, often in a specific sequence that repeats in a cycle every few seasons. The alternative to crop rotation, monocropping, may gradually deplete the soil of certain nutrients and select for highly competitive communities of pests and weeds, decreasing productivity in the absence of high volumes of external inputs such as fertilizers and herbicides. Crop rotation can reduce reliance upon these inputs by making better use of natural ecosystem services from a diverse set of crops, often improving soil quality and reducing the probability of pests and weeds developing resistances to control measures.
  • crop weed Any weed or undesirable plant that grows among crop plants. See also weed of cultivation.
  • crop wild relative (CWR)   A wild plant taxon that is closely related to a domesticated plant taxon (e.g. a wild ancestor of the domesticated plant) and which therefore may be indirectly useful to plant breeders by presenting the possibility of introducing genetic material from the wild plant into the domestic relative by crossbreeding.
  • crop-lien system A farm financing scheme whereby money is loaned at the beginning of a growing season to pay for farming operations, with the subsequent harvest used as collateral for the loan.[[[3]]]
  • crop Any plantanimal, or other product of a living organism that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. The term may refer to the organism or species itself, the harvested parts, or the harvest in a more refined state. Most crops are cultivated in agriculture and its sub-disciplines, most commonly (but not exclusively) as food for humans or fodder for livestock; other crops are gathered from the wild.
  • cultivation The act of improving an area of land for or by agriculture, especially through the deliberate growing of plants (but not necessarily excluding other types of agriculture). Land upon which plants are sown, nurtured, or harvested, or more broadly any land dedicated to agricultural purposes, is said to be cultivated.
  • custom harvesting     deblossoming
  • dessert crop Any crop that is (or historically was) grown or used only for special occasions, as an elite or luxury item, or for pleasure rather than sustenance. Examples of crops historically considered dessert crops include coffeeteasugarcocoa, and tobacco.
  • dryland farming Also called arid-zone agriculture.
  • ecology The scientific analysis and study of interactions between organisms and their environment. It is an interdisciplinary field that includes biology, geography, and Earth science.
  • energy crop Any crop grown exclusively as a source of fuel for the purpose of energy production. Such crops are processed into solid, liquid, or gaseous biofuels (as with bioethanol and biogas) which are then burned to generate power or heat for human purposes.
  • extensive agriculture Also called extensive farming. Any system of agricultural production that uses small inputs of labor, fertilizer, and/or capital relative to the land area used for production, in contrast to intensive agriculture.    
  • factory farming See intensive animal farming.
  • fallow Any arable land which is deliberately not planted or left unsown for one or more production cycles or growing seasons with the intent of allowing the soil to recover and restore depleted nutrients and other organic matter that is critical for ecological function, while retaining moisture and disrupting the life cycles of agricultural pests by temporarily removing their hosts. Fallowing is often an important technique in crop rotation.
  • farm crisis A period of economic recession for an agricultural industry, characterized chiefly by low crop prices and/or low incomes for farming operations.
  • farm An area of land devoted primarily to agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food or other crops. In the broadest sense, the term may include ranchesfeedlotsorchardsplantations, smallholdings and hobby farms, fish farms, and even industrial operations such as wind farms.
  • farmers' co-op See agricultural cooperative.
  • farmland See agricultural land.
  • feed grain Any cereal grain grown so that it can be used as fodder to feed animals, especially livestock. Corn, barley, and sorghum are commonly grown for this purpose.[[[2]]]
  • feedlot Also called a feed yard. A type of animal feeding operation, typically consisting of a densely concentrated area of enclosures or "pens" containing individual animals, used for the efficient raising, fattening, and finishing of numerous livestock prior to slaughter, especially beef cattle, but also swine, horses, sheep, and poultry.
  • fertilizer Also spelled fertiliser. Any natural or synthetic material that is applied to soil or to plant tissues to supply one or more nutrients essential to the growth of plants.
  • field Any area of land, enclosed or otherwise, used for agricultural purposes, such as for the cultivation of crops or as a paddock for livestock.
  • fish farming See pisciculture.
  • floriculture Also called flower farming. A branch of horticulture involving the cultivation of flowering plants and ornamental plants for gardens and landscaping as well as for commercial floristry.
  • fodder Also called animal feed or provender. Any agricultural foodstuff used to feed domesticated livestock, and more specifically food given to the animals directly (such as haystrawsilage, and compound feeds), as opposed to that which they forage for themselves.
  • food-feed system An integrated livestock-crop production system in which crops are harvested for human consumption and then the crop residues or byproducts are used as feed for livestock, often on the same or nearby agricultural land.
  • forage Any plant material, especially leaves and stems, eaten by grazing livestock, especially that which is grazed by animals in pastures. In a looser sense it may also include fodder (plant material deliberately cut and given to animals as food).
  • forest farming A practice in agroforestry involving the cultivation of high-value specialty crops under a forest canopy that is deliberately modified or maintained to provide habitat and shade levels which enhance crop yield. Most crops produced by such methods are non-timber forest products or niche crops such as ginseng and certain varieties of mushroom.
  • free range A method of animal farming and animal husbandry in which the animals are permitted to roam freely outdoors, rather than being confined in enclosures, for at least part of each day. Though in practice the outdoor ranging area is usually fenced-in and therefore technically also an enclosure, free-range systems offer the opportunity for extensive locomotion, fresh air, and sunlight that is otherwise reduced or entirely prevented by indoor housing systems. The term may apply to farming for meat, eggs, or dairy products; in ranching, it is sometimes used interchangeably with open range.
  • fungiculture The cultivation of fungi with the goal of producing any of a variety of products that can be used by humans, such as foods, medicines, or scientific research materials.
  • furrow irrigation A type of irrigation which relies on long, shallow, parallel channels, known as furrows, dug into the soil along the length of an agricultural field to deliver water to crops planted on the ridges between the furrows. Water is applied to one end of the furrows, which are aligned in the direction of the field's predominant natural slope, and flows down the furrows by gravity. Furrow irrigation is particularly suited to broadacre row crops such as cottonmaize, and sugarcane.    
  • gleaning The practice of collecting unharvested crops from fields or obtaining unused agricultural products from farmers, processors, or retailers, often for distribution to food banks or charitable organizations.[[[4]]]
  • good agricultural practice (GAP)   Any collection of specific principles or methods applied by agricultural producers in order to create food or non-food products that are safe, healthy, and wholesome for consumers while also taking into account economic, social, and environmental sustainability. GAPs may be applied to a wide range of production systems and at different scales, and often vary with geographical context.
  • grain Any small, hard, dry seed (with or without the outer shell or other parts of the fruit) that is harvested for human or animal consumption, or the plant from which these seeds are harvested. Crops considered grains include all cereals (such as maizewheat, and rice) as well as pseudocereals (amaranthbuckwheatquinoa), certain legumes (soybeans and lentils), and certain oilseed plants (rapeseed and flax).
  • green manure A type of manure created by leaving uprooted or dehisced crop residues to wither and decay in an agricultural field so that they can serve as a mulch or natural fertilizer. Plants used for green manure are often cover crops grown specifically for this purpose; the mature plant tissues may be ploughed and mixed into the soil while green or shortly after flowering.
  • growing season The part of the year during which local weather conditions (i.e. temperature and precipitation) permit the normal growth of plants in a given location. Though the timing of plant growth and reproduction can vary widely by species, many local plant species show considerable phenological overlap, and so the term is commonly used to refer to a single generic season that encompasses a majority of the plants or crops growing in a given location. In many places, the local "growing season" is defined as the period of time between the average date of the last frost (typically in the spring or early summer) and the average date of the first frost (typically in the autumn).    
  • harrow A farm implement used to break up and smooth out the surface of a plot of soil. Harrowing often follows coarser ploughing, generally with the purpose of breaking up large lumps of soil so as to provide a better tilth that is suitable for use as a seedbed, and sometimes also to remove weeds or to cover seed after sowing. harvest index harvested acres For a particular crop, the number of acres of cropland that are actually harvested, as opposed to planted but not harvested. At the national level, this statistic is usually lower than the total number of planted acres due to abandonment caused by weather damage or low market prices at some point during the growing season, or because the crop is repurposed for livestock grazing.[[[4]]]
  • harvesting The process of gathering a ripe crop from an agricultural field. Harvesting is often the most labor-intensive activity of a growing season or utilizes the most expensive and sophisticated farm machinery. In general usage, the term may include immediate postharvest practices such as cleaning, sorting, packing, and cooling of the gathered crops.
  • hay Grasses, legumes, or other herbaceous plants that have been cut, dried, and stored as fodder for animals, especially livestock.
  • haylage Silage with a high dry-matter content, typically made from hay, though the term is also used to refer to silage made from alfalfa.
  • hill farming A type of extensive agriculture practiced in hilly, upland areas unsuitable for intensive management, typically involving the grazing of livestock and especially sheep.
  • honey wagon See manure spreader.
  • intensive agriculture Also called intensive farming. Any system of agricultural production that uses relatively large inputs of labor, fertilizer, and/or capital per unit land area and is, accordingly, characterized by high production outputs, in contrast to extensive agriculture. In the developed world, most commercial agriculture is intensive in one or more ways.
  • intercropping A type of multiple cropping involving the cultivation of two or more crops in proximity, usually with the goal of producing a greater yield within a given area of land by making use of resources or ecological processes that would otherwise not be utilized by a single crop.
  • irrigation The application of controlled amounts of water to plants at needed intervals, especially for the purposes of growing agricultural crops, maintaining landscapes, or revegetating disturbed or drought-affected soils. Irrigation systems may also be used as a means of protecting crops from frost, suppressing the growth of weeds, preventing soil consolidation, cooling livestock, and controlling airborne dust.    
  • livestock Any domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting in order to produce labor and/or agricultural commodities such as meat, eggs, milk, fur, leather, and wool. In certain contexts the term may be used more narrowly to refer exclusively to animals that are bred for consumption, or only to farmed ruminants such as cattle and goatssheeppigs, and horses are also often considered livestock, while poultry and fish are usually excluded.
  • mariculture A specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms in the open ocean, enclosed sections of the ocean, or saltwater tanks or raceways, with the goal of producing any of a variety of products that can be used by humans, most commonly foods but also non-food products such as jewellery and cosmetics. Mariculture includes the farming of marine fish, shellfishmollusks such as clams and oysters, and seaweed, among many other organisms.
  • mechanized agriculture Also spelled mechanised agriculture. The use of agricultural machinery to mechanize the work of agriculture, thereby substantially increasing the productivity of an agricultural operation. Modern mechanized agriculture may make use of tractors, combine harvestersaircraft, computers, and satellite imagery, among other technologies.
  • mill Any structure or device used to break solid materials into smaller pieces by grinding, crushing, or cutting.
  • minimum tillage A type of conservation tillage designed to conserve soil quality by minimizing the amount of soil manipulation necessary for successful crop production, typically by completely avoiding primary tillage and practicing only minimal secondary tillage.
  • monoculture The practice of growing or raising a single crop or livestock species, variety, or breed on a particular area of land at a time. Contrast polyculture.
  • multiple cropping The practice of growing two or more crops on the same area of land in the same growing season (as opposed to growing only one crop); the crops may be harvested at the same time or at different times. It is a form of polyculture. See also companion planting. open range
  • orchard Any intentional planting of trees or shrubs that is maintained for food production. Most orchards are planted with a single variety of fruit- or nut-producing tree, and are often laid out in a regular grid with wide spacing and grazed or mown grass or bare soil between individual trees to make maintenance and harvesting easy.
  • pasture Any land used for grazing, especially enclosed tracts of farmland grazed by domesticated livestock such as horses, cattle, sheep, or swine. Pasture vegetation mainly consists of grasses and forbs and is typically grazed throughout the summer. Pasture is often distinguished from, but may in the broadest sense include, other agricultural land types such as meadowsrangelands, or other unenclosed pastoral areas.
  • permanent crop Any crop produced from a perennial plant which produces crops repeatedly over multiple seasons, rather than having to be replanted after each harvest.
  • pharming Also called molecular farming, molecular pharming, and biopharming. The use of genetic engineering technologies to insert one or more genes that code for useful pharmaceuticals into a host plant or animal that would otherwise not express those genes, thereby creating a genetically modified organism. Crops modified in this way are sometimes called pharma crops.
  • pisciculture Also called fish farming. The raising of fish in tanks, enclosures, or hatcheries with the goal of producing any of a variety of products that can be used by humans, most commonly food. It is a type of aquaculture.
  • polyculture The practice of growing or raising more than one species, variety, or breed at the same time and place, often in imitation of the biodiversity of natural ecosystems. Contrast monoculture.
  • postharvest 1.  The stage of commercial crop production immediately following harvest, including cooling, drying, cleaning, sorting, packing, and/or any other processing and handling activities necessary for the crop to become marketable. Postharvest treatment largely determines a crop's final quality and how and whether it can be sold. 2.  Any activities that occur after agricultural products leave or are sold from the farm or ranch where they were produced.[[[4]]]
  • precision agriculture (PA) Also called satellite farming and site-specific crop management. A large-scale agricultural management strategy based on observing, measuring, and responding to inter- and intra-field variability in crops and crop yields with the goal of optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources. Precision agriculture relies on advanced technologies such as GPSremote sensingsatellite imagerymultispectral imagery, and agricultural drones to collect data on numerous agricultural variables and to generate datasets and maps of spatial variability which can then be used by variable-rate (and often fully automated) applications to optimally distribute resources.
  • produce A generalized term used to refer to a variety of farm-produced food crops, usually including fruits and vegetables and sometimes also grains and other products, especially implying that such foods are fresh and generally in the same state as when and where they were harvested. provender See fodder.
  • pruning The selective removal of certain unwanted plant parts or tissues, such as branches, buds, or roots, from crops or landscape plants during cultivation for any of a variety of reasons, including controlling or redirecting growth, improving or sustaining the plant's health or appearance, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing juvenile plants for transplanting, and increasing the yield or quality of harvestable flowers and fruits.
  • rangeland Any grasslandshrublandwoodlandwetland, or desert area that is grazed by domestic livestock or wild animals. Rangelands are generally less intensively managed than pasture lands in that they are dominated primarily by native vegetation rather than by plants established by humans, and typically are not subjected to agricultural practices such as irrigation and the use of fertilizers.
  • ratooning The practice of harvesting a crop plant (particularly a monocot species) by cutting most of the above-ground portion of the plant but leaving the roots and the shoot apices intact so as to allow the plant to recover and produce a fresh crop in a subsequent growing season. This procedure usually can be sustained only for a few seasons, as yield tends to decline with each season. Ratoon crops include sugarcanepineapples, and bananas.
  • row crop Any crop that can be planted in rows wide enough to allow it to be tilled or otherwise cultivated by agricultural machinery specifically designed for that purpose. Such crops are generally sown by drilling rather than by broadcast seeding.
  • seedbed Also seedling bed. seeding See sowing.
  • sericulture The cultivation of silkworms with the goal of producing silk.
  • sharecropping A type of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to cultivate a portion of his or her land in return for a share of the crops produced on that land.
  • shifting cultivation A type of agriculture in which specific plots of land are cleared and cultivated temporarily, often by slash-and-burn methods and for just a few growing seasons, then abandoned and allowed to lie fallow, reverting to their natural vegetation over many more seasons, while the cultivator migrates to a new plot.
  • site-specific crop management (SSCM) See precision agriculture.
  • soil amendment Also called a soil improvement or soil conditioner. Any product which is added to soil to improve the soil's quality, especially its fertility and mechanics, either to make poor soils more usable or to maintain soils that are already in good condition. In the broadest sense, the term includes all organic and synthetic fertilizers and all other soil additives.
  • sowing Often used interchangeably with seeding and planting. The process of distributing seeds (or any other type of propagule) of crop plants in or upon an area of fertile soil, either by hand or by mechanical methods. Sowing is one of the first steps in any seasonal agricultural operation.
  • staple food Also simply staple. A food that is eaten routinely and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet for a given population or demographic, supplying a large fraction of energy needs and generally providing a significant proportion of the basic nutrients needed for survival or health. Specific staple foods vary by location and culture, but typically are inexpensive or readily available foods that are suitable for storage over long periods of time without decaying; examples include cereals, starchy tubers or root vegetablesmeatfisheggs, and dairy products.
  • stubble-mulching The practice of leaving the stubble or crop residue essentially in place on a plot of cropland as a surface cover during a fallow period. Stubble-mulching can prevent soil erosion and conserve soil moisture.[[[4]]]
  • threshing The process of loosening the edible part of a grain or other crop from the chaff to which it is attached, without removing the bran. In grain cultivation, threshing immediately follows reaping.
  • tillage 1.  The preparation of agricultural soil by any of various types of mechanical agitation, whether human-powered, animal-powered, or mechanised, such as digging, hoeingrakingploughing, and harrowing. In this sense, it is also referred to as tilling. 2.  The land that is tilled.
  • trap crop Any plant that is cultivated in order to attract the attention of agricultural pests, usually insects, and thereby distract them away from nearby crops. In small farms or gardens, this practice can help save the primary crop from decimation by pests without the use of pesticides.
  • viticulture Also winegrowing. The cultivation of grapes, especially for use in winemaking.
  • volunteer Any plant, especially a feral crop plant or crop descendant, that grows in an agricultural field or garden unintentionally, rather than by deliberate planting by a farmer or gardener. Volunteers often grow from seeds that have been dispersed by the wind or animals or inadvertently mixed into compost. Unlike weeds, volunteers are not necessarily unwanted, and may even be encouraged to grow, especially if they show desirable characteristics that can be selected to produce new cultivars.
  • weed of cultivation Any plant that is well-adapted to environments in which the land is cultivated for growing some other plant. See also crop weed. wildculture
  • xeriscaping The practice of gardening or landscaping so as to reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation. Xeriscaping requires the selection of plants whose natural requirements are appropriate to the local climate, with a particular emphasis on water conservation, and focuses on designing and maintaining the land in such a way as to avoid losing water to evaporation and run-off.
  • yield Also called agricultural output.  
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) A system of involving the local food conscious consumers in a direct to consumer style marketings where the consumers "invest" in a farm for the growing season, and in return receive a weekly or monthly payout of fresh fruits and or vegetables. Many CSAs also include meats, cheeses, or other value added products in addition to fresh produce.
  • Drip irrigation A system of water irrigation that uses pipes and drip lines to irrigate crops, either directly at the soil surface or sub-surface at the root zone. This system can provide a number of benefits including weed reduction and water conservation.
  • Farmers' market A direct to consumer marketing approach where consumers purchase goods from growers and producers in a market setting.
  • Flood irrigation A style of traditional irrigation where fields are irrigated with surface water from acequia systems.
  • Food miles The distance food travels from the farm to your plate. On average food travels 1,500 miles, but by eating locally this number can be greatly reduced.
  • Foodshed A defined area from which food is grown, processed, purchased, and consumed. We currently have a global foodshed, with products coming from a variety of places around the world. The local food movement aims to bring the foodshed closer to home, with foodsheds ranging from 100 miles to a larger multi-state region.
  • Free-range A method of farming/ranching in which livestock are allowed to "roam freely," instead of being confined to a feeding stall or cage. The term is most commonly associated with but not limited to poultry. Similar terms include "cage free," "humanely raised," and "pastured livestock."
  • Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) An organism that has had its genetic material altered through genetic engineering. In relation to food and agriculture, this would include, plants, seeds, and livestock that have been genetically engineered in a lab to increase yields, pest resistance, or enhance desired traits. GMOs are a major concern to communities trying to preserve native seeds and/or traditional practices.
  • Grass-fed A term to describe livestock that forage freely on grass and legume pastures, rather than being fed corn and grains in confined feedlots.
  • Locavore Someone who seeks out locally grown and produced foods. The word locavore was the New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year for 2007.
  • Natural This term is most often used to describe meats and other goods that are minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients or colors.
  • No-till farming A method of farming where the soil is not plowed or turned before planted. This method reduces erosion of both soil and nutrients, while increasing organic matter in the soil.
  • Organic Organic generally means a product that is certified to be grown and/or produced without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, hormones or antibiotics, and is GMO free. Someone can grow with organic methods but choose to not be certified.
  • Value-added product A raw agricultural product that has been modified or enhanced to be a product with a higher market value and / or a longer shelf life. Some examples include fruits made into pies or jams, meats made into jerky, and tomatoes and peppers made into salsa.

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