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Easy Farming
Easy Farming

2016 edition of "The World of Organic Agriculture"

Organic agriculture is practiced in 172 countries, and 43.7 million hectares of agricultural land are managed organically by approximately 2.3 million farmers. The global sales of organic food and drink reached 80 billion US dollars in 2014.
The 17th edition of The World of Organic Agriculture, published by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and IFOAM – Organics International, provides a comprehensive review of recent developments in global organic agriculture. It includes contributions from representatives of the organic sector from throughout the world and provides comprehensive organic farming statistics that cover area under organic management, specific information about land use in organic systems, numbers of farms and other operator types as well as selected market data.

Why Study History? (1998)

People live in the present. They plan for and worry about the future. History, however, is the study of the past. Given all the demands that press in from living in the present and anticipating what is yet to come, why bother with what has been? Given all the desirable and available branches of knowledge, why insist—as most American educational programs do—on a good bit of history? And why urge many students to study even more history than they are required to?
Any subject of study needs justification: its advocates must explain why it is worth attention. Most widely accepted subjects—and history is certainly one of them—attract some people who simply like the information and modes of thought involved. But audiences less spontaneously drawn to the subject and more doubtful about why to bother need to know what the purpose is.

The Importance of History

History is important. In centuries past this statement would have seemed self-evident. Ancient cultures devoted much time and effort to teaching their children family history. It was thought that the past helps a child understand who he is. Modern society, however, has turned its back on the past. We live in a time of rapid change, a time of progress. We prefer to define ourselves in terms of where we are going, not where we come from. Our ancestors hold no importance for us. They lived in times so different from our own that they are incapable of shedding light on our experience. Man is so much smarter now than he was even ten years ago that anything from the past is outdated and irrelevant to us. Therefore the past, even the relatively recent past, is, in the minds of most of us, enshrouded by mists and only very vaguely perceived. Our ignorance of the past is not the result of a lack of information, but of indifference. We do not believe that history matters.

Climate Change and the Origins of Agriculture

The traditional understanding of the history of agriculture begins in the ancient Near East and Southwest Asia, about 10,000 years ago, but it has its roots in the climatic changes at the tail end of the Upper Paleolithic, called the Epipaleolithic, about 10,000 years earlier.

It has to be said that recent archaeological and climate studies suggest that the process may have been slower and begun earlier than 10,000 years ago; and may well have been much more widespread than in the near east/southwest Asia. But there is no doubt that a significant amount of domestication invention occurred in the Fertile Crescent during the Neolithic period.
History of Agriculture Timeline
• Last Glacial Maximum ca 18,000 BC
• Early Epipaleolithic 18,000-12,000 BC
• Late Epipaleolithic 12,000-9,600 BC
• Younger Dryas 10,800-9,600 BC
• Early Aceramic Neolithic 9,600-8,000 BC
• Late Aceramic Neolithic 8,000-6,900 BC

Agriculture history

Agricultural History is the journal of record in the field. As such, it publishes articles on all aspects of the history of agriculture and rural life with no geographical or temporal limits. The editors are particularly interested in articles that address a novel subject, demonstrate considerable primary and secondary research, display an original interpretation, and are of general interest to Society members and other Agricultural History readers.
The journal is edited by Albert Way at Kennesaw State University. More information is available on the editorial office and policies.

Accessing the journal is easy. The entire run of Agricultural History is full-text searchable and available for purchase and download, either by the entire issue or individual article, on JSTOR. Current AHS members who have an electronic membership have access to the entire run of the journal. Want to become a member? Click here.

Where Did Crops Originate?

Gradual advancement
Over the next 8,500 years, agriculture evolved relatively slowly. Through trial and error, farmers around the world began to breed better plants.
They naturally noticed that not all plants within a species were the same. Some grew larger, tasted better or were easier to grind into meal. They simply began to save seeds from the best plants and sow them for the next year’s harvest.
Over hundreds of generations, this led to the transformation of wild plants into the larger, tastier grains and vegetables we know today.
During the Bronze and Iron Ages, stone and wooden tools were replaced by stronger, more efficient metal tools. However, farming remained a time- and labor-intensive pursuit that involved nearly 80% of the world’s population.

The agricultural revolution

The origins of agriculture

For most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers. And then, about 10,000 years ago, we began to domesticate plants and animals as a way to make our food supply more accessible and predictable. In many ways, the birth of agriculture can be defined as the moment we stopped chasing our food and started raising it.
As humans have advanced agriculture, agriculture has reshaped human civilization. For the most part, these changes have been good ones. But as we enter a new era of human history, agriculture faces new challenges and new responsibilities.

Without a time machine, it’s impossible to know the exact date on which the first human held a seed in his or her hand and thought: “If I plant this in the ground, I’ll know exactly where to find food in a few months.”

A Short History of Agriculture

Before Agriculture
Before agriculture, people lived by hunting wild animals and gathering edible plants. When the herds were plentiful and the plants flourishing, life was good. But, when the herds migrated elsewhere, people had to follow them and often discover a whole new set of plants to supplement their diet.
Hunters eventually realized that their prey was much easier to kill if it were walled up in a box canyon. Better yet, they could capture the prey and keep it in a cave for future use. Archaeological finds show that early humans imprisoned giant ground sloth's in this way. Entrapment, however, was a temporary measure. Not thinking of the future, hungry humans gorged themselves, then, when the sloths had all been eaten, they sought out more sloths. maintaining a herd by breeding and nurturing wasn't yet practiced.

The History of Agriculture

For most of our existence, humans were hunter-gatherers. This means that people lived a nomadic lifestyle, moving with the seasons to follow the food supply. As the glaciers retreated and plant life patterns and growth areas changed in response, it meant that the need to move so often became slightly less essential - though undoubtedly the lifestyle carried on for thousands of years as people sought to maximize their resource acquisition (4, p574-5). Hunter-gatherer societies would have known which crops were best to exploit with each season.

Agriculture 1

The word agriculture is the English adaptation of Latin agricultura, from ager, "a field" and cultura, "cultivation" in the strict sense of "tillage of the soil". Thus, a literal reading of the word yields "tillage of a field / of fields".
Economists measure the total factor productivity of agriculture and by this measure agriculture in the United States is roughly 2.6 times more productive than it was in 1948.
Agriculture refers to the production of food and fiber and other goods through farming and forestry. Agriculture was a key development that led to the rise in civilization raising of domesticated animals. The study of agriculture is known as agricultural science. The related practice of gardening is studied in horticulture.

Multiple Origins of Agriculture

Some of the earliest archeological evidence for agriculture comes from the Yellow River region of China, where the people raised rice and millet some fifteen thousand years ago. By thirteen thousand years ago, when warmer and wetter weather followed the end of the Pleistocene ice age, people in the Fertile Crescent, an area that today includes Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Israel, and Lebanon, cultivated wild grasses, which were the ancestors of barley and emmer and einkorn wheat, as well as lentils and chickpeas. The fields of grasses supported grazing animal populations.

Striking evidence of early agriculture is a ten thousand-year-old farming village in Jericho in the Jordan Valley built over the remains of a hunter-gatherer settlement. The farm was larger and supported more people, and included permanent homes and evidence of irrigation, including walls to hold back floods and ditches. Barley flourished in nearby fields.


Agriculture is the raising of domesticated animals and the planting, cultivation, and preservation of crops. Agriculture entails selective breeding of organisms with combinations of inherited characteristics that benefit humans (and not necessarily the organisms themselves), and so these practices have over time greatly influenced the course of evolution of these animals. Agriculture arose thousands of years ago in different parts of the world. The steps were similar in different places, but the types of organisms that were raised or cultivated differed. Underlying all of agriculture is human control of the environment.

From Hunting and Gathering to Intentional Intervention

History of Agriculture

The scale below provides an indication of how recent the phenomenon of farming is:
The world was formed ca 4, 600 million years ago.
Eukaryotic life forms: ca. 1,000 million years ago
First hominid life forms 4 million years ago (hunter gatherers)
First human farmers: about 12,000 years ago.
Global Agricultural Evolution: 1650 – 1850 AD
Modern Agricultural Evolution: 1950 - present
Some of the food gathering mechanisms utilised by hunter-gatherer societies were relatively advanced.
In such conditions of trial-and-error experimentation and manipulation of species, the scene was set for the domestication of plants and animals. In addition, these hunter-gatherer societies probably paved the way for domestication by developing :
Social structure (promote cooperation)
Knowledge of cultivation techniques
Specialization on particular plant/animal foods
Domestication versus cultivation

The Farming Revolution

Taking root around 12,000 years ago, agriculture triggered such a change in society and the way in which people lived that its development has been dubbed the “Neolithic Revolution.” Traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyles, followed by humans since their evolution, were swept aside in favor of permanent settlements and a reliable food supply. Out of agriculture, cities and civilizations grew, and because crops and animals could now be farmed to meet demand, the global population rocketed—from some five million people 10,000 years ago, to more than seven billion today.

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