Farm

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Farmland in the United States. The round fields are due to the use of center pivot irrigation Round farm 2007.jpg
Farmland in the United States. The round fields are due to the use of center pivot irrigation
Typical plan of a mediaeval English manor, showing the use of field strips Plan mediaeval manor.jpg
Typical plan of a mediaeval English manor, showing the use of field strips

A farm is an area of land that is devoted primarily agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food and other crops; it is the basic facility in food production. [1] The name is used for specialised units such as arable farms, vegetable farms, fruit farms, dairy, pig and poultry farms, and land used for the production of natural fibres, biofuel and other commodities. It includes ranches, feedlots, orchards, plantations and estates, smallholdings and hobby farms, and includes the farmhouse and agricultural buildings as well as the land. In modern times the term has been extended so as to include such industrial operations as wind farms and fish farms, both of which can operate on land or sea.

Contents

Farming originated independently in different parts of the world, as hunter gatherer societies transitioned to food production rather than, food capture. It may have started about 12,000 years ago with the domestication of livestock in the Fertile Crescent in western Asia, soon to be followed by the cultivation of crops. Modern units tend to specialise in the crops or livestock best suited to the region, with their finished products being sold for the retail market or for further processing, with farm products being traded around the world.

Modern farms in developed countries are highly mechanized. In the United States, livestock may be raised on rangeland and finished in feedlots and the mechanization of crop production has brought about a great decrease in the number of agricultural workers needed. In Europe, traditional family farms are giving way to larger production units. In Australia, some farms are very large because the land is unable to support a high stocking density of livestock because of climatic conditions. In less developed countries, small farms are the norm, and the majority of rural residents are subsistence farmers, feeding their families and selling any surplus products in the local market.

Etymology

A farmer harvesting crops with mule-drawn wagon, 1920s, Iowa, USA Marion Cty, Iowa Farmer w mule drawn wagon, 1920s.jpg
A farmer harvesting crops with mule-drawn wagon, 1920s, Iowa, USA

The word in the sense of an agricultural land-holding derives from the verb "to farm" a revenue source, whether taxes, customs, rents of a group of manors or simply to hold an individual manor by the feudal land tenure of "fee farm". The word is from the medieval Latin noun firma, also the source of the French word ferme, meaning a fixed agreement, contract, [2] from the classical Latin adjective firmus meaning strong, stout, firm. [3] [4] As in the medieval age virtually all manors were engaged in the business of agriculture, which was their principal revenue source, so to hold a manor by the tenure of "fee farm" became synonymous with the practice of agriculture itself.

History

Map of the world showing approximate centers of origin of agriculture and its spread in prehistory: the Fertile Crescent (11,000 BP), the Yangtze and Yellow River basins (9,000 BP), and the New Guinea Highlands (9,000-6,000 BP), Central Mexico (5,000-4,000 BP), Northern South America (5,000-4,000 BP), sub-Saharan Africa (5,000-4,000 BP, exact location unknown), eastern North America (4,000-3,000 BP). Centres of origin and spread of agriculture.svg
Map of the world showing approximate centers of origin of agriculture and its spread in prehistory: the Fertile Crescent (11,000 BP), the Yangtze and Yellow River basins (9,000 BP), and the New Guinea Highlands (9,000–6,000 BP), Central Mexico (5,000–4,000 BP), Northern South America (5,000–4,000 BP), sub-Saharan Africa (5,000–4,000 BP, exact location unknown), eastern North America (4,000–3,000 BP).

Farming has been innovated at multiple different points and places in human history. The transition from hunter-gatherer to settled, agricultural societies is called the Neolithic Revolution and first began around 12,000 years ago, near the beginning of the geological epoch of the Holocene [6] around 12,000 years ago. [7] It was the world's first historically verifiable revolution in agriculture. Subsequent step-changes in human farming practices were provoked by the British Agricultural Revolution in the 18th century, and the Green Revolution of the second half of the 20th century. Farming spread from the Middle East to Europe and by 4,000 BC people that lived in the central part of Europe were using oxen to pull plows and wagons. [8]

Types of farm

A farm may be owned and operated by a single individual, family, community, corporation or a company, may produce one or many types of produce, and can be a holding of any size from a fraction of a hectare [9] to several thousand hectares. [10]

A farm may operate under a monoculture system or with a variety of cereal or arable crops, which may be separate from or combined with raising livestock. Specialist farms are often denoted as such, thus a dairy farm, fish farm, poultry farm or mink farm.

Some farms may not use the word at all, hence vineyard (grapes), orchard (nuts and other fruit), market garden or "truck farm" (vegetables and flowers). Some farms may be denoted by their topographical location, such as a hill farm, while large estates growing cash crops such as cotton or coffee may be called plantations.

Many other terms are used to describe farms to denote their methods of production, as in collective, corporate, intensive, organic or vertical.

Other farms may primarily exist for research or education, such as an ant farm, and since farming is synonymous with mass production, the word "farm" may be used to describe wind power generation or puppy farm.

Specialized farms

Dairy farm

A milking machine in action Cow milking machine in action DSC04132.jpg
A milking machine in action

Dairy farming is a class of agriculture, where female cattle, goats, or other mammals are raised for their milk, which may be either processed on-site or transported to a dairy for processing and eventual retail sale There are many breeds of cattle that can be milked some of the best producing ones include Holstein, Norwegian Red, Kostroma, Brown Swiss, and more. [11]

In most Western countries, a centralized dairy facility processes milk and dairy products, such as cream, butter, and cheese. In the United States, these dairies are usually local companies, while in the southern hemisphere facilities may be run by very large nationwide or trans-national corporations (such as Fonterra).

Dairy farms generally sell male calves for veal meat, as dairy breeds are not normally satisfactory for commercial beef production. Many dairy farms also grow their own feed, typically including corn, alfalfa, and hay. This is fed directly to the cows, or stored as silage for use during the winter season. Additional dietary supplements are added to the feed to improve milk production. [12]

Poultry farm

Poultry farming Poultry Farming in Nepal2.jpg
Poultry farming

Poultry farms are devoted to raising chickens (egg layers or broilers), turkeys, ducks, and other fowl, generally for meat or eggs. [13]

Pig farm

A pig farm is one that specializes in raising pigs or hogs for bacon, ham and other pork products and may be free range, intensive, or both.

Ownership

Farm control and ownership has traditionally been a key indicator of status and power, especially in Medieval European agrarian societies. The distribution of farm ownership has historically been closely linked to form of government. Medieval feudalism was essentially a system that centralized control of farmland, control of farm labor and political power, while the early American democracy, in which land ownership was a prerequisite for voting rights, was built on relatively easy paths to individual farm ownership. However, the gradual modernization and mechanization of farming, which greatly increases both the efficiency and capital requirements of farming, has led to increasingly large farms. This has usually been accompanied by the decoupling of political power from farm ownership.[ citation needed ]

Forms of ownership

In some societies (especially socialist and communist), collective farming is the norm, with either government ownership of the land or common ownership by a local group. Especially in societies without widespread industrialized farming, tenant farming and sharecropping are common; farmers either pay landowners for the right to use farmland or give up a portion of the crops.

Farms around the world

Americas

Farming near Klingerstown, Pennsylvania Farming near Klingerstown, Pennsylvania.jpg
Farming near Klingerstown, Pennsylvania
A typical North American grain farm with farmstead in Ontario, Canada Ontario farm.jpg
A typical North American grain farm with farmstead in Ontario, Canada

The land and buildings of a farm are called the "farmstead". [ citation needed ] Enterprises where livestock are raised on rangeland are called ranches . Where livestock are raised in confinement on feed produced elsewhere, the term feedlot is usually used.

In 1910 there were 6,406,000 farms and 10,174,000 family workers; In 2000 there were only 2,172,000 farms and 2,062,300 family workers. [14] The share of U.S. farms operated by women has risen steadily over recent decades, from 5 percent in 1978 to 14 percent by 2007. [15]

In the United States, there are over three million migrant and seasonal farmworkers; 72% are foreign-born, 78% are male, they have an average age of 36 and average education of 8 years. [16] Farmworkers make an average hourly rate of $9–10 per hour, compared to an average of over $18 per hour for nonfarm labor. Their average family income is under $20,000 and 23% live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. [17] One-half of all farmworker families earn less than $10,000 per year, [18] which is significantly below the 2005 U.S. poverty level of $19,874 for a family of four.

In 2007, corn acres are expected to increase by 15% because of the high demand for ethanol, both in and outside of the U.S. Producers are expecting to plant 90.5 million acres (366,000 km²) of corn, making it the largest corn crop since 1944. [19]

Asia

Farmlands in Hebei province, China Chinafarmland.jpg
Farmlands in Hebei province, China

Pakistan

According to the World Bank, "most empirical evidence indicates that land productivity on large farms in Pakistan is lower than that of small farms, holding other factors constant." Small farmers have "higher net returns per hectare" than large farms, according to farm household income data. [20]

Nepal

Goat found in Nepal Jamnapari goat.jpg
Goat found in Nepal

Nepal is an agricultural country and about 80% of the total population are engaged in farming. Rice is mainly produced in Nepal along with fruits like apples. [21] Dairy farming and poultry farming are also growing in Nepal.

Australia

Cows grazing on a farm in Victoria, Australia Cows in green field - nullamunjie olive grove03.jpg
Cows grazing on a farm in Victoria, Australia

Farming is a significant economic sector in Australia. A farm is an area of land used for primary production which will include buildings.

According to the UN, "green agriculture directs a greater share of total farming input expenditures towards the purchase of locally sourced input?(e.g. labour and organic fertilisers) and a local multiplier effect is expected to kick in. Overall, green farming practices tend to require more labour inputs than conventional farming (e.g. from comparable levels to as much as 30 per cent more) (FAO 2007 and European Commission 2010), creating jobs in rural areas and a higher return on labour inputs." [22]

Where most of the income is from some other employment, and the farm is really an expanded residence, the term hobby farm is common. This will allow sufficient size for recreational use but be very unlikely to produce sufficient income to be self-sustaining. Hobby farms are commonly around 2 hectares (4.9 acres) but may be much larger depending upon land prices (which vary regionally).

Often very small farms used for intensive primary production are referred to by the specialization they are being used for, such as a dairy rather than a dairy farm, a piggery, a market garden, etc. This also applies to feedlots, which are specifically developed to a single purpose and are often not able to be used for more general purpose (mixed) farming practices.

In remote areas farms can become quite large. As with estates in England, there is no defined size or method of operation at which a large farm becomes a station.

Traditional Dutch farmhouse Rieten dak old farmhouse.jpg
Traditional Dutch farmhouse

Europe

In the UK, farm as an agricultural unit, always denotes the area of pasture and other fields together with its farmhouse, farmyard and outbuildings. Large farms, or groups of farms under the same ownership, may be called an estate. Conversely, a small farm surrounding the owner's dwelling is called a smallholding and is generally focused on self-sufficiency with only the surplus being sold.

Africa

A typical farm in Namibia Farm Langverwacht, Namibia (2017).jpg
A typical farm in Namibia

A farm in Africa includes various structures. Depending on climate-related areas primarily farming is the raising and breeding of grazing livestock, such as cattle, sheep, ostriches, horses or goats. Predominantly domestic animals are raised for their meat, milk, skin, leather or fiber (wool). You might even come across silk farms. [23]

Furthermore there are plenty of hunting farms, guest farms and game farms. Arable or irrigated land is often used for raising crops such as feed grains and hay for animal feeding.

On some farms (Astro Farm) star-gazing became very popular because of the excellent optical quality in the desert. [24] The High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) which investigates cosmic gamma rays is situated on Farm Göllschau in Namibia.

Farm equipment

Farm equipment has evolved over the centuries from simple hand tools such as the hoe, through ox- or horse-drawn equipment such as the plough and harrow, to the modern highly-technical machinery such as the tractor, baler and combine harvester replacing what was a highly labour-intensive occupation before the Industrial revolution. Today much of the farm equipment used on both small [25] and large farms is automated (e.g. using satellite guided farming). [26]

As new types of high-tech farm equipment have become inaccessible to farmers that historically fixed their own equipment, Wired reports there is a growing backlash, [27] due mostly to companies using intellectual property law to prevent farmers from having the legal right to fix their equipment (or gain access to the information to allow them to do it). [28] This has encouraged groups such as Open Source Ecology and Farm Hack [29] to begin to make open source hardware for agricultural machinery. In addition on a smaller scale Farmbot [30] and the RepRap open source 3D printer community has begun to make open-source farm tools available of increasing levels of sophistication. [31]

See also

Related Research Articles

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to agriculture:

Farmer Person that works in agriculture

A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, raising living organisms for food or raw materials. The term usually applies to people who do some combination of raising field crops, orchards, vineyards, poultry, or other livestock. A farmer might own the farmed land or might work as a laborer on land owned by others, but in advanced economies, a farmer is usually a farm owner, while employees of the farm are known as farm workers, or farmhands. However, in the not so distant past, a farmer was a person who promotes or improves the growth of by labor and attention, land or crops or raises animals.

Animal husbandry Management, selective breeding, and care of farm animals by humans

Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, fibre, milk, eggs, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock.

Feedlot An array of pens for feeding livestock for human consumption

A feedlot or feed yard is a type of animal feeding operation (AFO) which is used for the efficient raising and finishing of livestock, notably beef cattle, but also swine, horses, sheep, turkeys, chickens or ducks, prior to slaughter. Large beef feedlots are called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) in the United States and intensive livestock operations (ILOs) or confined feeding operations (CFO) in Canada. They may contain thousands of animals in an array of pens.

Cattle feeding system to feed cattle

There are different systems of feeding cattle in animal husbandry, which may have different advantages and disadvantages. Most cattle in the US have a fodder that is composed of at least some forage. In fact, most beef cattle are raised on pasture from birth in the spring until autumn. For pastured animals, grass is usually the forage that composes the majority of their diet. Cattle reared in feedlots are fed hay supplemented with grain, soy and other ingredients in order to increase the energy density of the feed. The debate is whether cattle should be raised on fodder primarily composed of grass or a concentrate. The issue is complicated by the political interests and confusion between labels such as "free range", "organic", or "natural". Cattle raised on a primarily foraged diet are termed grass-fed or pasture-raised; for example meat or milk may be called grass-fed beef or pasture-raised dairy. The term "pasture-raised" can lead to confusion with the term "free range", which does not describe exactly what the animals eat.

Barnyard enclosed or open area of land, a yard, adjoined to a barn

A barnyard or farmyard is an enclosed or open yard adjoining a barn, and, typically, related farm buildings, including a farmhouse. Enclosed barnyards are usually formed by a combination of fences and farm structures.

Pastoral farming covers the systems of production of articles of bovine, type of animal breeding

Pastoral farming is aimed at producing livestock, rather than growing crops. Examples include dairy farming, raising beef cattle, and raising sheep for wool. In contrast, arable farming concentrates on crops rather than livestock. Finally, Mixed farming incorporates livestock and crops on a single farm. Some mixed farmers grow crops purely as fodder for their livestock; some crop farmers grow fodder and sell and in some cases pastoralists. Pastoral farming is a non-nomadic form of pastoralism in which the livestock farmer has some form of ownership of the land used, giving the farmer more economic incentive to improve the land. Unlike other pastoral systems, pastoral farmers are sedentary and do not change locations in search for fresh resources. Rather, pastoral farmers adjust their pastures to fit the needs of their animals. Improvements include drainage, stock tanks, irrigation and sowing clover.

Canada is one of the largest agricultural producers and exporters in the world. As with other developed nations, the proportion of the population and GDP devoted to agriculture fell dramatically over the 20th century but it remains an important element of the Canadian economy. A wide range of agriculture is practised in Canada, from sprawling wheat fields of the prairies to summer produce of the Okanagan valley. In the federal government, overview of Canadian agriculture is the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Agriculture in Mongolia

Agriculture in Mongolia constitutes over 10% of Mongolia's annual Gross domestic product and employs one-third of the labor force. However, the high altitude, extreme fluctuation in temperature, long winters, and low precipitation provides limited potential for agricultural development. The growing season is only 95 – 110 days. Because of Mongolia's harsh climate, it is unsuited to most cultivation. Only 1% of the arable land in Mongolia is cultivated with crops, amounting to 1,322,000 hectares in 1998. The agriculture sector therefore remains heavily focused on nomadic animal husbandry with 75% of the land allocated to pasture, and cropping only employing 3% of the population. Crops produced in Mongolia include corn, wheat, barley, and potatoes. Animals raised commercially in Mongolia include sheep, goats, cattle, horses, camels, and pigs. They are raised primarily for their meat, although goats are valued for their hair which can be used to produce cashmere.

Agriculture in Senegal

Senegal's economy is mostly driven by agriculture, fisheries, mining, construction and tourism. Most of Senegal lies within the drought-prone Sahel region, with irregular rainfall and generally poor soils. With only about 5 percent of the land irrigated, Senegal continues to rely on rain-fed agriculture, which occupies about 75 percent of the workforce. Despite a relatively wide variety of agricultural production, the majority of farmers produce for subsistence needs. Production is subject to drought and threats of pests such as locusts, birds, fruit flies, and white flies. Millet, rice, corn, and sorghum are the primary food crops grown in Senegal.

Intensive animal farming Type of animal husbandry using high inputs and stocking densities to increase production

Intensive animal farming or industrial livestock production, also known by its opponents as factory farming, is a type of intensive agriculture, specifically an approach to animal husbandry designed to maximize production, while minimizing costs. To achieve this, agribusinesses keep livestock such as cattle, poultry, and fish at high stocking densities, at large scale, and using modern machinery, biotechnology, and global trade. The main products of this industry are meat, milk and eggs for human consumption. There are issues regarding whether intensive animal farming is sustainable or ethical.

Agriculture in Ethiopia

Agriculture in Ethiopia is the foundation of the country's economy, accounting for half of gross domestic product (GDP), 83.9% of exports, and 80% of total employment.

Agriculture in Israel developed industry in Israel

Agriculture in Israel is a highly developed industry. Israel is a major exporter of fresh produce and a world-leader in agricultural technologies despite the fact that the geography of the country is not naturally conducive to agriculture. More than half of the land area is desert, and the climate and lack of water resources do not favor farming. Only 20% of the land area is naturally arable. In 2008 agriculture represented 2.5% of total GDP and 3.6% of exports. While farmworkers made up only 3.7% of the work force, Israel produced 95% of its own food requirements, supplementing this with imports of grain, oilseeds, meat, coffee, cocoa and sugar.

Agriculture in Paraguay

Throughout its history, agriculture in Paraguay has been the mainstay of the economy. This trend has continued today and in the late 1980s the agricultural sector generally accounted for 48 percent of the nation's employment, 23 percent of GDP, and 98 percent of export earnings. The sector comprised a strong food and cash crop base, a large livestock subsector including cattle ranching and beef production, and a vibrant timber industry.

Poland's agricultural sector is vital for European and Global market because is produces a variety of agricultural, horticultural and animal origin products. The surface area of agricultural land in Poland is 15.4 million ha, which constitutes nearly 50% of the total area of the country.

Agriculture in Spain

Agriculture in Spain is important to the national economy.

Dairy farming in Canada

Dairy farming is one of the largest agricultural sectors in Canada. Dairy has a significant presence in all of the provinces and is one of the top two agricultural commodities in seven out of ten provinces.

Shonga Farms is made up of 13 commercial farmers invited by the government of Kwara State, Nigeria, to revolutionize agriculture in the state as well as promote job creation, improve productivity and enhance food security.

Farming systems in India

Farming Systems in India are strategically utilized, according to the locations where they are most suitable. The farming systems that significantly contribute to the agriculture of India are subsistence farming, organic farming, industrial farming. Regions throughout India differ in types of farming they use; some are based on horticulture, ley farming, agroforestry, and many more. Due to India's geographical location, certain parts experience different climates, thus affecting each region's agricultural productivity differently. India is very dependent on its monsoon cycle for large crop yields. India's agriculture has an extensive background which goes back to at least 9 thousand years. In India, Agriculture was established throughout most of the subcontinent by 6000–5000 BP. During the 5th millennium BP, in the alluvial plains of the Indus River in Pakistan, the old cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa experienced an apparent establishment of an organized farming urban culture. That society, known as the Harappan or Indus civilization, flourished until shortly after 4000 BP; it was much more comprehensive than those of Egypt or Babylonia and appeared earlier than analogous societies in northern China. Currently, the country holds the second position in agricultural production in the world. In 2007, agriculture and other industries made up more than 16% of India's GDP. Despite the steady decline in agriculture's contribution to the country's GDP, agriculture is the biggest industry in the country and plays a key role in the socio-economic growth of the country. India is the second-largest producer of wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, silk, groundnuts, and dozens more. It is also the second biggest harvester of vegetables and fruit, representing 8.6% and 10.9% of overall production, respectively. The major fruits produced by India are mangoes, papayas, sapota, and bananas. India also has the biggest number of livestock in the world, holding 281 million. In 2008, the country housed the second largest number of cattle in the world with 175 million.

Agriculture in Wales

Agriculture in Wales has in the past been a major part of the economy of Wales, a largely rural country that forms part of the United Kingdom. Wales is mountainous and has a mild, wet climate. This results in only a small proportion of the land area being suitable for arable cropping, but grass for the grazing of livestock is present in abundance. As a proportion of the national economy, the importance of agriculture has become much reduced; a high proportion of the population now live in the towns and cities in the south of the country and tourism has become an important form of income in the countryside and on the coast. Arable cropping is limited to the flatter parts and elsewhere dairying and livestock farming predominate.

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