Agriculture

Rake in a soil plot with saplings planted nearby

Agriculture is the practice and science of cultivating land and raising crops, animals and fungi to sustain human life. Agriculture is practiced for a variety of purposes including raising animals and crops for food, textiles, fiber and biofuel. The terms "farming" and "agriculture" are closely related.

Agricultural practices first arose 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent. At that time, humans began developing and implementing irrigation, domestication, crop rotation and fertilization. During the Middle Ages, Muslims greatly expanded upon these practices by developing farming machines, writing farming manuals, and bringing crops to Europe. With the advent of steam power and pragmatic farming techniques, the Industrial Revolution expanded the size, scope, technology and productivity of farms. This paved the way for major strides in agricultural advancement in the 19th and 20th centuries.  

About 2 million people now farm or ranch in the U.S., working on average 200 days per year. As time has passed since the Green Revolution of the mid- to late 1900s, sustainable farming practices have been emphasized and implemented more and more. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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