TWO BRANCHES OF AGRICULTURE
Agriculture, also called farming or husbandry, is the cultivation of animals,
plants, fungi, and other life forms for food, fiber, biofuel, medicinals and other
products used to sustain and enhance human life. Agriculture was the key
development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of
domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the development
of civilization. The study of agriculture is known as agricultural science. The
history of agriculture dates back thousands of years, and its development has
been driven and defined by greatly different climates, cultures, and technologies.
However, all farming generally relies on techniques to expand and maintain the
lands that are suitable for raising domesticated species. For plants, this usually
requires some form of irrigation, although there are methods of dryland farming.
Livestock are raised in a combination of grassland-based and landless systems,
in an industry that covers almost one-third of the world's ice- and water-free area.
In the developed world, industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture
has become the dominant system of modern farming, although there is growing
support for sustainable agriculture, including permaculture and organic
Until the Industrial Revolution, the vast majority of the human population
labored in agriculture. Pre-industrial agriculture was typically subsistence
agriculture/self-sufficiency in which farmers raised most of their crops for
their own consumption instead of cash crops for trade. A remarkable shift in
agricultural practices has occurred over the past century in response to new
technologies, and the development of world markets. This also has led to
technological improvements in agricultural techniques, such as the Haber-Bosch
method for synthesizing ammonium nitrate which made the traditional practice
of recycling nutrients with crop rotation and animal manure less important.
TWO BRANCHES OF AGRICULTURE
There are two main branches of agricultural production – crop production
and animal husbandry.
Crop production is the practice of growing and harvesting crops. The most
important crops grown by man are grain crops, vegetables and grasses. In order to
obtain high yields crops are grown under favorable soil and climatic conditions.
Animal husbandry is a branch of agriculture including the breeding of farm
animals and their use. Dairy and beef cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry are widely
bred throughout the world. Farm animals are highly important sources of food
for man. They are kept for the production of such nutritious products as meat,
milk and eggs.
Many crops grown by man are used in feeding livestock. At the same time
manure produced by farm animals is an important source for the maintenance
soil fertility. Most of the nutrients taken by plants from the soil are thus returned.
Applying manure, farmers improve the physical condition of the soil.
Thus, crop production and animal husbandry are closely connected with
3) Animal husbandry is the management and care of farm animals by
humans for profit, in which genetic qualities and behavior, considered to be
advantageous to humans, are further developed. The term can refer to the
practice of selectively breeding and raising livestock to promote desirable
traits in animals for utility, sport, pleasure, or research, but also refers to the
efficient exploitation of a species in agriculture advantageous to humans.
History of breeding
Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the
first domestication of animals. Selective breeding for desired traits was first
established as a scientific practice by Robert Bakewell during the British
Agricultural Revolution in the 18th century. One of his most important breeding
programs was with sheep. Using native stock, he was able to quickly select for
large, yet fine-boned sheep, with long, lustrous wool. The Lincoln Longwool
was improved by Bakewell and in turn the Lincoln was used to develop the
subsequent breed, named the New (or Dishley) Leicester. It was hornless and
had a square, meaty body with straight top lines. These sheep were exported
widely and have contributed to numerous modern breeds.
Techniques such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer are
frequently used today, not only as methods to guarantee that females breed
regularly but also to help improve herd genetics. This may be done by
transplanting embryos from high-quality females into lower-quality surrogate
mothers - freeing up the higher-quality mother to be impregnated. This practice
vastly increases the number of offspring which may be produced by a small
selection of the best quality parent animals. On the one hand, this improves the
ability of the animals to convert feed to meat, milk, or fiber more efficiently,
and improve the quality of the final product. On the other, it decreases genetic
diversity, increasing the severity of disease outbreaks among other risks.
Farming practices vary dramatically worldwide and between types of
animals. Livestock are generally kept in an enclosure, are fed by human-
provided food and are intentionally bred, but some livestock
are not enclosed, or are fed by access to natural foods, or are allowed to breed
freely, or any combination thereof. Livestock raising historically was part of a
nomadic or pastoral form of material culture. The herding of camels and reindeer
in some parts of the world remains unassociated with sedentary agriculture. The
transhumance form of herding in the Sierra Nevada of California still continues,
as cattle, sheep or goats are moved from winter pasture in lower elevation valleys
to spring and summer pasture in the foothills and alpine regions, as the seasons
progress. Cattle were raised on the open range in the Western United States and
Canada, on the Pampas of Argentina, and other prairie and steppe regions of the
The enclosure of livestock in pastures and barns is a relatively new
development in the history of agriculture. When cattle are enclosed, the type of
‘enclosure’ may vary from a small crate, a large fenced pasture or a paddock. The
type of feed may vary from natural growing grass, to animal feed. Animals are
usually intentionally bred through artificial insemination or through supervised
mating. Indoor production systems are typically used for pigs, dairy cattle and
poultry, as well as for veal cattle, dairy goats and other animals, depending on
the region and season. Animals kept indoors are generally farmed intensively,
as large space requirements would make indoor farming unprofitable and
impossible. However, indoor farming systems are controversial due to the waste
they produce, odour problems, the potential for groundwater contamination and
animal welfare concerns. (For further discussion on intensively farmed livestock,
see factory farming, and intensive pig farming).
Animal husbandry, a branch of agricultural production, includes the breeding
of farm animals and their use. Farm animals are highly important sources of food
for man. They are known to produce highly nutritious products such as milk,
meat and eggs. In addition, the skin of animals, down and feather of poultry and
wool of sheep are used as raw materials to produce clothing and for many other
The most important group of farm animals is cattle. There are four types of
cattle. They are dairy cattle, beef cattle, draft cattle and dual- purpose cattle. Dairy
cattle, that is, dairy cows provide milk that may be used in making various dairy
products. Beef cattle are the producer of beef. One can raise dual-purpose cattle
producing both milk and meat. Draft cattle and horses are almost everywhere
replaced by agricultural machinery.
Important sources in producing human food are sheep and hogs. Sheep are
raised for two purposes: wool and mutton production. The production cycle of
hogs is much shorter than that of cattle or sheep. In other words, unlike the other
farm animals hogs are rapid growing ones. They may be fattened in less than six
months. That is why hog breeding is one of the most important and economic
ways of solving the problem of supplying the population with meat.
Date: 2016-01-03; view: 8580