Agriculture and the Environment. The Geography of Agriculture. A Brief History of Agriculture Classifying Agricultural Regions The Green Revolution Questioning our Agricultural ‘Success’ Biotechnology. History of Agriculture. Hunter-Gatherers Neolithic Revolution
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Domestication of Plants and Animals
Cultural Hearths: Near East, East Asia, Mesoamerica
Domestication of Animals
Technology allows much greater production (surplus) with less human labor.
Agribusiness - The industrialization of agriculture in the core countries. Fewer crops, higher output, larger farms, very little human labor (<2% in US).
Source: World Resources Institute / South Dakota State University, 2009
Intact Forest Landscapes
Formerly forest, now croplands
Formerly forest, now pasture
Working Forest Landscapes
Original forest cover
Current forest cover
Tropical deforestation 2000-2005
Vegetation “slashed” and then burned. Soil remains fertile for 2-3 years. Then people move on.
Declining at hands of ranching and logging.
The breeding and herding of domesticated animals for subsistence.
Most nomads are being pressured into sedentary life as land is usurped for agriculture or mining.
Somali Nomad and Tent
Double croppingis used in warm winter areas of S. China and Taiwan
The Fields of Bali
Thai Rice Farmers
Mixed Crop and Livestock Farming
Where: Ohio to Dakotas, centered on Iowa; much of Europe from France to Russia
Where: worldwide, but U.S. and Russia predominant
Highly mechanized: combines, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, migrate northward in U.S., following the harvest.
Where: arid or semi-arid areas of western U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Spain and Portugal.
History: initially open range, now sedentary with transportation changes.
Where: areas surrounding the Mediterranean, California, Oregon, Chile, South Africa, Australia
Climate has summer dry season. Landscape is mountainous.
The term green revolution refers to the development and adoption of high yielding cereal grains in the less developed world during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Very large short term gains in grain output have allowed food supplies to grow faster than populations, until very recently.
Green Revolution History
Acreage and Yield Trends
1943 Rockefeller Foundation begins work on short stature hybrid corn in Mexico
1960s Hybrid strains of rice, wheat, and corn show great success in S.E. Asia, and Latin America.
1970 Head of Mexican corn program, Borlaug, wins Nobel Peace Prize
1990s Growth in food supply continues, but slows to below the rate of population growth, as the results of unsustainable farming practices take effect.
“Our incredible successes as a species are largely derived from this choice, but the biggest threats to our existence stem from the same decision.” Jared Diamond, 1999