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Agriculture

farming revolution agricultural centuries

Agriculture, science and practice of farming, including the production of crops, the rearing of livestock, and the care of soil. The storing and sowing of seeds, central to agriculture, developed in the Neolithic period. Tools and techniques developed gradually over the centuries. The organization of farming, especially the ownership of land, was crucial in determining the prevailing social, economic, and political structures of civilizations as diverse as those of Egypt and Babylonia, China, Rome, and Japan. In medieval Europe the self-contained manorial system shaped the agricultural village. Late in the Middle Ages communal subsistence farming gave way to farms organized to produce salable surpluses. The agricultural revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries saw advances in horticultural techniques, and by the dawn of the industrial revolution, farming was concentrated in fewer hands and was geared to feeding the cities and supplying raw materials for manufactures. During the 19th century the United States led the world in agricultural development. The transportation revolution, new machines such as McCormick's reaper, the introduction of artificial fertilizers, and increased specialization all helped raise productivity. In the late 20th century agriculture in most industrialized countries is highly specialized and relies upon pesticides, growth-stimulating antibiotics for livestock, fertilizers, and artificial insemination. By contrast, agriculture in much of the Third World is not mechanized, crop yields are not high, and famine still occurs.

U.S. Department of Agriculture [next] [back] Agricultural education

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