This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page . (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Good agricultural practice (GAP) are specific methods which, when applied to agriculture, create food for consumers or further processing that is safe and wholesome. While there are numerous competing definitions of what methods constitute good agricultural practice there are several broadly accepted schemes that producers can adhere to.
Agriculture is the science and art of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities. The history of agriculture began thousands of years ago. After gathering wild grains beginning at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers began to plant them around 11,500 years ago. Pigs, sheep and cattle were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world. Industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on subsistence agriculture into the twenty-first.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) uses good agricultural practice as a collection of principles to apply for on-farm production and post-production processes, resulting in safe and healthy food and non-food agricultural products, while taking into account economical, social and environmental sustainability.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate arguments and debate policy.
Sustainable agriculture is farming in sustainable ways based on an understanding of ecosystem services, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It is a long-term methodological structure that incorporates profit, environmental stewardship, fairness, health, business and familial aspects on a farm setting. It is defined by 3 integral aspects which are: economic profit, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Sustainability focuses on the business process and practice of a farm in general, rather than a specific agricultural product. The integrated economic, environmental, and social principles are incorporated into a “triple bottom line” (TBL); when the general impacts of the farm are assessed. Unlike a traditional approach where the profit-margin is the single major factor; Agriculture sustainability is also involved with the social and environmental factors.
GAPs may be applied to a wide range of farming systems and at different scales. They are applied through sustainable agricultural methods,
Food security is a measure of the availability of food and individuals' accessibility to it, where accessibility includes affordability. There is evidence of food security being a concern over 10,000 years ago, with central authorities in ancient China and ancient Egypt being known to release food from storage in times of famine. At the 1974 World Food Conference the term "food security" was defined with an emphasis on supply. Food security, they said, is the "availability at all times of adequate, nourishing, diverse, balanced and moderate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices". Later definitions added demand and access issues to the definition. The final report of the 1996 World Food Summit states that food security "exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life".
Food safety is used as a scientific discipline describing handle, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent food-borne illness. The occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illnesses resulting from the ingestion of a common food is known as a food-borne disease outbreak. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potential health hazards. In this way food safety often overlaps with food defense to prevent harm to consumers. The tracks within this line of thought are safety between industry and the market and then between the market and the consumer. In considering industry to market practices, food safety considerations include the origins of food including the practices relating to food labeling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, as well as policies on biotechnology and food and guidelines for the management of governmental import and export inspection and certification systems for foods. In considering market to consumer practices, the usual thought is that food ought to be safe in the market and the concern is safe delivery and preparation of the food for the consumer.
Food quality is the quality characteristics of food that is acceptable to consumers. This includes external factors as appearance, texture, and flavour; factors such as federal grade standards and internal.
GAPs require maintaining a common database on integrated production techniques for each of the major agro-ecological area (see ecoregion), thus to collect, analyze and disseminate information of good practices in relevant geographical contexts.
A database is an organized collection of data, generally stored and accessed electronically from a computer system. Where databases are more complex they are often developed using formal design and modeling techniques.
An ecoregion is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion, which in turn is smaller than an ecozone. All three of these are either less or greater than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural communities and species. The biodiversity of flora, fauna and ecosystems that characterise an ecoregion tends to be distinct from that of other ecoregions. In theory, biodiversity or conservation ecoregions are relatively large areas of land or water where the probability of encountering different species and communities at any given point remains relatively constant, within an acceptable range of variation.
The United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service currently operates an audit/certification program to verify that farms use good agricultural practice and/or good handling practice. This is a voluntary program typically utilized by growers and packers to satisfy contractual requirements with retail and food service buyers. The program was implemented in 2002 after the New Jersey Department of Agriculture petitioned USDA-AMS to implement an audit based program to verify conformance to the 1998 Food & Drug Administration publication entitled, "Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables."
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, and food. It aims to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, protect natural resources, foster rural communities and end hunger in the United States and internationally.
The program has been updated several times since 2002, and includes additional certification programs such as commodity specific audit programs for mushrooms, tomatoes, leafy greens, and cantaloupes. In 2009, USDA-AMS participated in the GAPs Harmonization Initiative which "harmonized" 14 of the major North American GAP audit standards, which in 2011 resulted in the release and implementation of the Produce GAPs Harmonized Food Safety Standard.
Demand for agricultural crops is expected to double as the world's population reaches 9.1 billion by 2050. Increasing the quantity and quality of food in response to growing demand will require increased agricultural production. Good agricultural practices, often in combination with effective input use, are one of the best ways to increase smallholder productivity. Many agribusinesses are building sustainable supply chains to increase production and improve quality.
Agricultural science is a broad multidisciplinary field of biology that encompasses the parts of exact, natural, economic and social sciences that are used in the practice and understanding of agriculture.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to agriculture:
Organic farming is an alternative agricultural system which originated early in the 20th century in reaction to rapidly changing farming practices. Certified organic agriculture accounts for 70 million hectares globally, with over half of that total in Australia. Organic farming continues to be developed by various organic agriculture organizations today. It is defined by the use of fertilizers of organic origin such as compost manure, green manure, and bone meal and places emphasis on techniques such as crop rotation and companion planting. Biological pest control, mixed cropping and the fostering of insect predators are encouraged. In general, organic standards are designed to allow the use of naturally occurring substances while prohibiting or strictly limiting synthetic substances. For instance, naturally occurring pesticides such as pyrethrin and rotenone are permitted, while synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are generally prohibited. Synthetic substances that are allowed include, for example, copper sulfate, elemental sulfur and Ivermectin. Genetically modified organisms, nanomaterials, human sewage sludge, plant growth regulators, hormones, and antibiotic use in livestock husbandry are prohibited. Reasons for advocation of organic farming include advantages in sustainability, openness, self-sufficiency, autonomy/independence, health, food security, and food safety.
Intensive farming involves various types of agriculture with higher levels of input and output per cubic unit of agricultural land area. It is characterized by a low fallow ratio, higher use of inputs such as capital and labour, and higher crop yields per cubic unit land area. This contrasts with traditional agriculture, in which the inputs per unit land are lower. The term "intensive" involves various meanings, some of which refer to organic farming methods, and others that refer to nonorganic and industrial methods. Intensive animal farming involves either large numbers of animals raised on limited land, usually concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), often referred to as factory farms, or managed intensive rotational grazing (MIRG), which has both organic and non-organic types. Both increase the yields of food and fiber per acre as compared to traditional animal husbandry. In CAFO, feed is brought to the seldom-moved animals, while in MIRG the animals are repeatedly moved to fresh forage.
Conservation agriculture (CA) can be defined by a statement given by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as “a concept for resource-saving agricultural crop production that strives to achieve acceptable profits together with high and sustained production levels while concurrently conserving the environment”.
Agroecology is the study of ecological processes applied to agricultural production systems. Bringing ecological principles to bear in agroecosystems can suggest novel management approaches that would not otherwise be considered. The term is often used imprecisely and may refer to "a science, a movement, [or] a practice". Agroecologists study a variety of agroecosystems. The field of agroecology is not associated with any one particular method of farming, whether it be organic, integrated, or conventional, intensive or extensive. However, it has much more in common with organic and integrated farming.
Subsistence agriculture occurs when farmers grow food crops to feed themselves and their families. In subsistence agriculture, farm output is targeted to survival and is mostly for local requirements with little or no surplus trade. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to feed and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made principally with an eye toward what the family will need during the coming year, and secondarily toward market prices. Tony Waters writes: "Subsistence peasants are people who grow what they eat, build their own houses, and live without regularly making purchases in the marketplace."
Nutrient management is the science and practice directed to link soil, crop, weather, and hydrologic factors with cultural, irrigation, and soil and water conservation practices to achieve optimal nutrient use efficiency, crop yields, crop quality, and economic returns, while reducing off-site transport of nutrients (fertilizer) that may impact the environment. It involves matching a specific field soil, climate, and crop management conditions to rate, source, timing, and place of nutrient application.
Soil fertility refers to the ability of soil to sustain agricultural plant growth, i.e. to provide plant habitat and result in sustained and consistent yields of high quality. A fertile soil has the following properties:
Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. This intentional combination of agriculture and forestry has varied benefits, including increased biodiversity and reduced erosion. Agroforestry practices have been successful in sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of the United States.
Agricultural wastewater treatment is a farm management agenda for controlling pollution from surface runoff that may be contaminated by chemicals in fertiliser, pesticides, animal slurry, crop residues or irrigation water.
Organic horticulture is the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants by following the essential principles of organic agriculture in soil building and conservation, pest management, and heirloom variety preservation.
A smallholding is a small farm. In developing countries, smallholdings are usually farms supporting a single family with a mixture of cash crops and subsistence farming. As a country becomes more affluent, smallholdings may not be self-sufficient but are valued primarily for the rural lifestyle that they provide for the owners, who often do not earn their livelihood from the farm. There are an estimated 500 million smallholder farms in the world, supporting almost 2 billion people. Today some companies try to include smallholdings into their value chain, providing seed, feed or fertilizer to improve production. Some say that this model shows benefits for both parties.
Agricultural chemistry is the study of both chemistry and biochemistry which are important in agricultural production, the processing of raw products into foods and beverages, and in environmental monitoring and remediation. These studies emphasize the relationships between plants, animals and bacteria and their environment. The science of chemical compositions and changes involved in the production, protection, and use of crops and livestock. As a basic science, it embraces, in addition to test-tube chemistry, all the life processes through which humans obtain food and fiber for themselves and feed for their animals. As an applied science or technology, it is directed toward control of those processes to increase yields, improve quality, and reduce costs. One important branch of it, chemurgy, is concerned chiefly with utilization of agricultural products as chemical raw materials. Etc.
Farm assurance is product certification for agricultural products that emphasises the principles of quality assurance. The emphasis on quality assurance means that, in addition to product inspection, farm assurance schemes may include standards and certification for traceability, production methods, transport, and supplies.
Agricultural engineering is the engineering discipline that studies agricultural production and processing. Agricultural engineering combines the disciplines of mechanical, civil, electrical and chemical engineering principles with a knowledge of agricultural principles according to technological principles. A key goal of this discipline is to improve the efficacy and sustainability of agricultural practices. One of the leading organizations in this industry is the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
Manure is organic matter, mostly derived from animal feces except in the case of green manure, which can be used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are utilised by bacteria, fungi and other organisms in the soil. Higher organisms then feed on the fungi and bacteria in a chain of life that comprises the soil food web.
The Indian Institute of Soil Science is an autonomous institute for higher learning, established under the umbrella of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India for advanced research in the field of soil sciences.
Reuse of excreta refers to the safe, beneficial use of animal or human excreta, i.e. faeces and urine. Such beneficial use involves mainly the nutrient, organic matter and energy contained in excreta, rather than the water content. Reuse of excreta can involve using it as soil conditioner or fertilizer in agriculture, gardening, aquaculture or horticultural activities. Excreta can also be used as a fuel source or as a building material.