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Advantages of Modern Agriculture

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    Advantages of modern agriculture During the latter half of the twentieth century, what is known today as modern agriculture was very successful in meeting a growing demand for food by the world’s population. Yields of primary crops such as rice and wheat increased dramatically, the price of food declined, the rate of increase in crop yields generally kept pace with population growth, and the number of people who consistently go hungry was slightly reduced.

    This boost in food production has been due mainly to scientific advances and new technologies, including the development of new crop varieties, the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and the construction of large irrigation systems. Basic Practices of Modern Agricultural Systems Modern agricultural systems have been developed with two related goals in mind: to obtain the highest yields possible and to get the highest economic profit possible.

    In order to achieve these goals, six basic practices have come to form the backbone of production: intensive tillage, monoculture, application of inorganic fertilizer, irrigation, chemical pest control, and genetic manipulation of crop plants. Each practice is used for its individual contribution to productivity, but when they are all combined in a farming system each depends on the others and reinforces the need for using the others. The work of agronomists, specialists in agricultural production, has been key to the development of these practices. Intensive Tillage.

    The soil is cultivated deeply, completely, and regularly in most modern agricultural systems, and a vast array of tractors and farm implements have been developed to facilitate this practice. The soil is loosened, water drains better, roots grow faster, and seeds can be planted more easily. Cultivation is also used to control weeds and work dead plant matter into the soil. Monoculture. When one crop is grown alone in a field, it is called a monoculture. Monoculture makes it easier to cultivate, sow seed, control weeds, and harvest, as well as expand the size of the farm operation and improve spects of profitability and cost. At the same time, monocultures tend to promote the use of the other five basic practices of modern agriculture. Use of Synthetic Fertilizers. Very dramatic yield increases occur with the application of synthetic chemical fertilizers. Relatively easy to manufacture or mine, to transport, and to apply, fertilizer use has increased from five to ten times what it was at the end of World War II (1939-45). Applied in either liquid or granular form, fertilizer can supply crops with readily available and uniform amounts of several essential plant nutrients.

    Irrigation Technologies. By supplying water to crops during times of dry weather or in places of the world where natural rainfall is not sufficient for growing most crops, irrigation has greatly boosted the food supply. Drawing water from underground wells, building reservoirs and distribution canals, and diverting rivers have improved yields and increased the area of available farm land. Special sprinklers, pumps, and drip systems have greatly improved the efficiency of water application as well. Chemical Pest Control.

    In the large monoculture fields of much of modern agriculture, pests include such organisms as insects that eat plants, weeds that interfere with crop growth, and diseases that slow plant and animal development or even cause death. When used properly, synthetic chemicals have provided an effective, relatively easy way to provide such control. Chemical sprays can quickly respond to pest outbreaks. Genetic Manipulation. Farmers have been choosing among crop plants and animals for specific characteristics for thousands of years.

    But modern agriculture has taken advantage of several more recent crop breeding techniques. The development of hybrid seed, where two or more strains of a crop are combined to produce a more productive offspring, has been one of the most significant strategies. Genetic engineering has begun to develop molecular techniques that selectively introduce genetic information from one organism to another, often times from very unrelated organisms, with a goal of capitalizing on specific useful traits. But for almost every benefit of modern agriculture, there are usually problems.

    Excessive tillage led to soil degradation, the loss of organic matter, soil erosion by water and wind, and soil compaction. Large monocultures are especially prone to devastating pest outbreaks that often occur when pests encounter a large, uniform area of one crop species, requiring the continued and excessive use of chemical sprays. When used excessively, chemical fertilizers can be easily leached out of the soil into nearby streams and lakes, or even down into underground water supplies. Farmers can become dependent on chemical pest and weed control.

    Modern farm systems lack the natural control agents needed for biological pest management, andlarger amounts of sprays must be used as pests rapidly evolve resistance. People also worry about chemical pollution of the environment by sprays and fertilizers, and the possible contamination of food supplies. Modern agriculture has become such a large user of water resources that overuse, depletion, saltwater contamination, salt buildup in soil, fertilizer leaching, and soil erosion have become all too common. Agricultural water users compete with urban and industrial use, and wildlife as well.

    Hybrid seed has contributed greatly to the loss of genetic diversity and increased risk of massive crop failure, as well as an increased dependence on synthetic and non-renewable inputs needed for maintaining high yield. Genetically engineered crops have the same negative potential, especially as the selection process takes place less and less in the hands of farmers working in their own fields, but rather in far away laboratories. In the future, in order to take advantage of new technologies and practices, farming systems will need to be viewed as ecosystems, or agricultural ecosystems.

    By monitoring both the positive and negative impacts of modern farming practices, ecologically based alternatives can be developed that protect the health of the soil, air, and water on farms and nearby areas, lower the economic costs of production, and promote viable farming communities around the world. Organic agriculture, conservation tillage,integrated pest management (IPM), and the use of appropriate genetic techniques that enhance local adaptation and variety performance are a few of the possible ways of ensuring the sustainability of future generations of farmers One of the advantages of agriculture is increasing the food availability. For millions of years, humans and their evolutionary ancestors roamed savannahs (which means that a flat grassland in tropical or subtropical regions) and forests hunting game and gathering edible plants. During this period, the global population changed gradually and is limited by ecological carrying capacity. With the advent of agriculture, the food availability had grown exponentially. Starvation decreased significantly, and family sizes increased when early people had enough food to support more offspring.

    While crop failures were possible, the overall trend of cultivating food instead of searching for it allowed for rapid growth and expansion of humanity. * Besides that, the following advantages is allowing growing settlement. Growing crops expect a constant attention. Tribes who once traveled with nomadic tendencies quickly changed, as people learned to build basic shelter and irrigation. Agriculture marked the beginning of permanently settled areas, where generations could establish government, store food and raise livestock.

    Trade between villages commenced, as did cultural milestones such as art, architecture and music. Much of what people associate with society began as an indirect result of the need to stay in one place to grow crops. * Job Specialization is also one of the common advatanges from the field of agriculture. Since finding food is no longer required the efforts of a whole tribe but instead became the task of a relatively small group of farmers, the concept of free time emerged. With it came cultural activities and also the specialization of trades, such as tool-making,cloth-making and building, among others.

    People could specialize in a task and use that knowledge to trade for items or services. Social classes and the exchange of ideas emerged from this new society. The economic benefits to agriculture of a reduction of low-level ozone pollution in The Netherlands Low-level ozone pollution affects crop yields adversely. Reduction of ozone pollution would therefore increase crop yields and provide economic benefits to producers and consumers of farm products. This paper assesses the potential magnitude of these benefits for the Netherlands.

    Exposure-response functions were used to estimate initial yield responses when ozone pollution is reduced to natural background levels. These yield responses were fed into a spatial economic model of the Dutch farm sector, thereby allowing for demand and supply adjustments in all interrelated markets. A novelty in this analysis is the explicit attention to crop-livestock interactions. The annual economic benefits of ozone reduction for producers and consumers of farm products are estimated to be ?310 million, of which ?91 million goes to producers and ?219 million to consumers. Advantages of Conservation Agriculture

    Conservation agriculture is generally a “win-win” situation for both farmers and the environment. Yet many people intimately involved with worldwide food production have been slow to recognize its many advantages and consider it to be a viable alternative to conventional agricultural practices that are having obvious negative impact on the environment. Much of this has to do with the fact that conservation agriculture requires a new way of thinking about agricultural production in order to understand how one could possibly attain higher yields with less labor, less water and fewer chemical inputs.

    In spite of these challenges, conservation agriculture is spreading to farmers throughout the world as its benefits become more widely recognized by farmers, researchers, scientists and extensionists alike. Specifically, conservation agriculture (CA) increases the productivity of: Land – Conservation agriculture improves soil structure and protects the soil against erosion and nutrient losses by maintaining a permanent soil cover and minimizing soil disturbance.

    Furthermore, CA practices enhance soil organic matter (SOM) levels and nutrient availability by growing green manure/ cover crops (GMCC’s) and returning their residues back to the soil. Thus, arable land under CA is more productive for much longer periods of time. Labor – Because land under no-till is not cleared before planting and involves less weeding and pest problems following the establishment of permanent soil cover/crop rotations, farmers in Ghana reported a 22% savings in labor associated with maize production.

    Similar reductions in labor requirements have been reported with no-till rice-wheat systems in South Asia and various CA technologies in South America. Much of the reduced labor comes from the absence of tillage operations under CA, which use up valuable labor days during planting season. Water – Conservation agriculture requires significantly less water use due to increased infiltration and enhanced water holding capacity from crop residues left on the soil surface. Mulches also protect the soil surface from extreme temperatures and greatly reduce surface evaporation, which is particularly important in tropical and sub-tropical climates.

    In Sub-Saharan Africa, as with other dryland regions, the benefits of conservation agriculture are most salient during drought years, when the risk of total crop failure is significantly reduced due to enhanced water use efficiency. Nutrients – Soil nutrient supplies and cycling are enhanced by the biochemical decomposition of organic crop residues at the soil surface. While much of the nitrogen needs of primary food crops can be achieved by planting nitrogen-fixing legume species, other plant essential nutrients often must be supplemented by additional chemical and/or organic fertilizer inputs.

    In general, soil fertility is built up over time under conservation agriculture, and fewer fertilizer amendments are required to achieve optimal yields. Soil biota – Insect pests and other disease causing organisms are held in check by an abundant and diverse community of beneficial soil organisms, including predatory wasps, spiders, nematodes, springtails, mites and beneficial bacteria and fungi, among other species. Furthermore, the burrowing activity of earthworms and other fauna create tiny channels or pores in the soil that facilitate the exchange of water and gases and loosen the soil for enhanced root penetration.

    Economic benefits: Farmers using CA technologies typically report higher yields (up to 45-48% higher) with fewer water, fertilizer and labor inputs, thereby resulting in higher overall farm profits. In Paraguay, net farm income of no-till (NT) farming on large-scale commercial farms increased from $2,3467 to $32,608 more than farms using conventional tillage over a 10 year period. The economic benefits of NT and other conservation agriculture technologies, more than any other factor, has lead to widespread adoption among both large- and small-scale farmers throughout Latin America.

    Environmental benefits: Conservation agriculture represents an environmentally-friendly set of technologies. Because it uses resources more efficiently than conventional agriculture, these resources become available for other uses, including conserving them for future generations. The significant reduction in fossil fuel use under no-till agriculture results in fewer greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere and cleaner air in general. Reduced applications of agrochemicals under CA also significantly lessens pollution levels in air, soil and water.

    Equity considerations: Conservation agriculture also has the benefit of being accessible to many small-scale farmers who need to obtain the highest possible yields with limited land area and inputs. Perhaps the biggest obstacle thus far for the technology spreading to more small-scale farmers worldwide has been limited access in certain areas to certain specialized equipment and machinery, such as no-till planters. This problem can be remedied by available service providers renting equipment or undertaking conservation agriculture operations for farmers who would not otherwise have access to the needed equipment.

    As more and more small-farmers gain access to CA technologies, the system becomes much more “scale neutral. ” Active role for farmers: As with any new agricultural technology, CA methods are most effective when used with skillful management and careful consideration of the many agroecolgical factors affecting production on any given farm or field. Rather than being a fixed technology to be adopted in blueprint-like fashion, CA should be seen as a set of sound agricultural principles and practices that can be applied either individually or together, based on resource availability and other factors.

    For this reason, farmers are encouraged to experiment with the methods and to evaluate the results for themselves- not just to “adopt” CA technologies. Selecting among different cover crop species, for example, needs to be determined in relation to particular agroecological conditions of the farm, including soil type, climate, topography as well as seed availability and what the primary function of the GMCC will be.

    Similarly, planting distances, irrigation requirements and the use of agrochemicals to control weeds and pests among other considerations, must be decided based on what the farmer needs as well as the availability of these and other resources. Advantages of Specialized Farming Advantages: 1. Better use of land: More profitable to grow crops on land best suited to it. E. g. jute growing or cultivation on swampy land in west Bengal. 2. Better marketing: it allows grading, processing, storing, transporting and financing the produce. . Less equipment and labour. 4. Costly and efficient machinery can be kept: A wheat harvester thresher can be maintained in a highly specialized wheat farm. 5. The efficiency and skill of the labor increased: Specialization allows a man to be more efficient and expert at doing a few things. 6. Farm records can be maintained easily. 7. Intensity of production leads to relatively large amount of output. 8. Better management: fewer enterprises on the farm are liable to be less neglected and sources of wastage can easily be detected.

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