What is Agriculture ?
Agriculture means the production and cultivation of plants and animals and their products for human consumption and other human needs. The study of agriculture is called agricultural sciences. Agriculture is one of the largest occupations in the world and as of 2011, approximately 1 billion people work in the agricultural sector. Agriculture started many thousands of years ago by our early ancestors. Our ancient ancestors used to travel frequently from one place to another in search of food. Agriculture made it possible for them to grow food so that they could settle down in one place without having to migrate over long distances for food.
Over the course of many decades, different methods of agriculture have been developed that have helped to efficiently produce more yield. Many developments have been made in agriculture such as breeding plants to produce plants that give more yields, use of pesticides to kill pests and weeds that harm crops, and technological advancements like agricultural machinery to help make the process of farming easier for the farmers.
Types of Agriculture:
There are mainly four types of agricultural which are briefly mentioned below:
Pastoralism involves the rearing and production of livestock rather than cultivating crops for food and other needs. It includes moving cattle from place to place in search of fodder, pasture, and water for the livestock.
In shifting cultivation, an area of forest is cleared by cutting the trees or burning and is used to cultivate crops. When the land becomes less fertile, the land is abandoned and another small area is cleared and used for cultivation and this cycle is repeated.
Farming that is done in order to satisfy a family or local needs is called subsistence farming. In such type of farming, there is little or no extra produce left to supply and sell.
In this method, plants, and livestock are produced for commercial use. The products are usually sold to make a profit.
Environmental Effects of Agriculture:
Agriculture is important for sustaining and enhancing human life but it also has some very negative effects on the environment. Some of these effects are described below:
i.Problems in Livestock:
Livestock occupies about 70% of the land that we use for agriculture. It is also one largest source of greenhouse gases emissions in the world as it is responsible for around 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases.
ii.Issues regarding land and water:
We, humans, have converted about 39% to 50% of land for agricultural purposes. Most of these lands are degraded which greatly impacts the ecosystem. Land degradation is caused by deforestation, soil erosion, turning of lands into deserts, mineral depletion, using chemicals that harm the land and many other factors.
The use of pesticides has drastically increased since 1950 to 2.5 million tons annually worldwide. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), it has been estimated that about 3 million pesticide poisonings occur annually which results in nearly 220,000 deaths.
Agriculture is also responsible for the ongoing climate change. Climate change can affect agriculture through changes in temperature, the amount of rainfall, carbon dioxide emissions and other related factors. For example, as climate change increases, there are predicted to be more droughts and floods which can severely affect agriculture.
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