The science and work of raising crops and farm animals
What Are Some Examples Of Agriculture?
Agriculture is the complex art and science behind global farming. It’s the staple of some of the first ancient civilizations, helping feed and fund populations. Every region has unique forms of agriculture. Some work in fertile environments, and others where typical crops won’t grow. Yet, agriculture isn’t about the food and animals we eat. It also encompasses goods and textiles crafted from crops and animals.
Though agriculture benefits local economies and our dinner plates, its environmental impacts can be damaging. Large-scale agriculture operations, like Intensive Farming, can ruin soil, deforest natural areas, and cause pollution. On a global scale, humanity can’t function without agriculture. Yet we can work to improve it.
Agriculture divides into around ten types, like Nomadic and Shifting Agriculture. These types can be further split based on the products cultivated and sold. They’re divided into livestock production, crop production, agricultural economics, and agricultural engineering. More simply, crops made for food, crops made to sell, animals raised to eat, and animals raised to sell.
Of the types of products cultivated, the U.S focuses on produce crops. The top 10 produce crops include: cotton, corn, fruit, tree nuts, oil crops, rice sweeteners, wheat, pulses, and vegetables. Of these, corn leads the field as it helps feed livestock and families, thanks to the many products that need corn.
Here are the major types of agriculture found in the U.S, along with their pros and cons.
Subsistence agriculture or subsistence farming is a small-scale family farm. This farm type was popular among low-income farmers in early American history. As non-farming jobs boomed in America, the use of large-scale agriculture took off. This caused subsistence farming to decrease. Though small family farms make up 89% of total U.S farms, large-scale farms amount to over half of crop production.
Small family farms link to direct need. They cultivate crops and animals for personal or community sales and feeding. Though small farms tend to products year-round, the output is low. Subsistence agriculture can suffer from the effects of climate change. It also has unstable yields and small crop diversity. Family farms are also diminishing as large-scale commercial agriculture grows in the U.S.
Intensive agriculture or farming is a large-scale agricultural method for high-yielding crops. Primarily cultivating types are grain, rice, and dairy products. It involves cultivating a large amount of land, labor, and maintenance. Though beneficial for jobs and a vital part of the economy, it relies on the environment. Rice, for example, is a specific intensive farm product that can’t grow in every region.
It’s favored for being more cost-effective than other farming types, with better profits and yields. Large farms can be overseen and nurtured easily with a high reliance on machinery and automation. Yet, this style relies on fertilizers and chemical use and destroys local forests and land to create. It’s also heavily criticized for crop contamination. Livestock can be placed under poor conditions to maintain a high yield. Some suggest this farming method ignores livestock needs and produces poor animal products due to stress, health issues, and herd diseases.
Commercial or industrialized agriculture cultivates products on a large scale to sell. The focus is on how to value commercial and cash crops like apples or grapes. Though it can occur on a small scale due to high profit, commercial agriculture is commonly seen in large operations in the U.S.
Common crops are tree-based or nut products, like those seen in orchards or plantations. Benefits include low product and production prices and improvement of local infrastructure. It also has strong food security. Yet commercial agriculture can destroy local land for its needs. It also can reduce food crops for preference of cash crops and can harm soil with heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Crop Rotation (Shifting Agriculture)
Crop rotation or shifting agriculture is a small land constant yield crop production. It focuses on rotating complementary crops in farming land each season to keep soil healthy and yield. It’s a complex crop rotation system, but beneficial for low environmental or crop hazards like pests or diseases. It remains popular thanks to minimizing soil erosion, high yields, and strong microbial activity.
Yet the financial benefit of crop rotation is less than other agriculture methods. It also requires more detailed and skillful farmers to maintain consistent crop diversity. Some farmers mix crop rotation with small-scale animal farming to help offset costs.