A lot of people who ask the question, “What is agriculture?” may think that it is something related to plants. Well, that is partially true. But agriculture does not only involve plants and vegetation, it also includes animals and other life forms.
The term agriculture is generally used to describe the science or the practice of cultivating plants, animals and other life forms for the utilization of food and other products by humans to sustain life. Agriculture has undoubtedly been one of the propelling factors of human civilization and development. It has played an important role in history.
Agriculture does not only apply to humans as it has been observed in some other species like termites and ants. During the old times, the purpose of agriculture was mainly to provide for the family and not for income. People cultivate their own lands and grow their own crops. Animals are also raised to provide protein-rich food. A small excess of crops from family consumption is given to the government as tax.
When your child asks you, “What is agriculture?” You can simplify the definition to farming and husbandry.
There are also different types of agriculture.
One of which is conventional agriculture. In this type of farming, there is a need for alteration of the natural environment. Tilling of the soil after removal of the trees in the area is done.
Mono-cropping is also practiced where only one type of crop is planted in a given area. In conventional agriculture, the crops that are grown are usually non-renewable. This means that after the crops are being harvested, the lands will be bare again and the soil should be tilled once more.
The other type of agriculture is sustainable agriculture.
In this type, the natural environment is being sustained and ecological principles are being followed. Poly-cropping is also sued where there are numerous types of crops being planted in one area at the same time. Because of this variety, the harvest periods of the plants differ from each other which means the land will never be bare. This decreases the chances of soil erosion.
Now that we know the answer to the question, “What is agriculture?” and it’s types, it is also important to find out the effects of each kind of agriculture.
With conventional agriculture, the plants are more susceptible to disease since the soil is stripped of its natural environment.
Erosion is also likely to happen during strong rains since the soil will be bare after harvest period.
Many animals will also lose their habitat due to this type of agriculture.
Insecticides and pesticides are also commonly used in conventional agriculture which poses a health threat not only to humans who will consume the produce but also to the environment and the animals grazing in the nearby areas.
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When a crop is infected with a disease it can easily spread since mono-cropping is utilized causing the farmer to lose a lot of income.
Sustainable agriculture on the other hand has better effects to nature. Because of the use of ecological principles, bio-diversity is increased which eventually decreases crop diseases. Animal habitats are also left unharmed.
Produce are fresh and healthy since insecticides are not used. Due to the variety of crops in a single area, the nutrients and by-products of each crop helps the other crops sustain growth. It is a mutual relationship with the animals too. Agriculture is indeed a very important aspect in the economy. In some countries, it is the driving force of their nation’s income. It is nice to know what agriculture is and its importance to the modern world.