Growing plants

Article

July 5, 2022

Crop cultivation is one of the main areas of agriculture, in addition to animal breeding. It is often called farming. Half of the world's agricultural land is shared by four crops: soybeans, wheat, corn, and rice.

History of farming

Soil change management

After the conscious sowing of the first crops, farming was a wasteland for a long time: they farmed in one place at a time until the fertile soil was exhausted. After that, they moved away and cultivated new territory. A wasteland was an abandoned area taken out of cultivation. Such lands usually had to be rested for 25-30 years to regain their fertility; that's how long it took for the proper soil structure to develop and the weeds to die out.

Irrigation farming

As the population increased, more extensive farming was needed, so in those places (Egypt, Mesopotamia, the countries of the Asian production method) where rivers with abundant water made this possible, irrigated farming became the dominant branch of the economy. In order to build large irrigation systems, the state organization had to be strongly centralized, so despotic, slaveholding states were formed.

Pressure farming

In the less irrigable areas, crop yields were increased by pressure farming. This was the defining method of farming in European feudalism: first in the simpler two-press version, then (typically from the 9th century) in the three-press version: in double-pressure farming, something (typically grain) was produced on half of the cultivated land, and the other half was rested; in three-pressure farming, only one-third of the area was fallow, and in order to increase productivity, it was cultivated more and more. e. It was known in the 1st century. Three-pressure farming is i. u. It spread on the continent from the 9th century. The most important tools for farming were the plow, the harrow, the sickle and the scythe. How deep the soil could be turned depended on the plow. Thus, when the light wooden plow was slowly replaced by the heavy one made of iron parts and pulled by oxen, the amount of grain produced increased significantly. If a scythe was used instead of a sickle when harvesting, the work progressed faster. The grain trodden by animals was ground in mills. The hymen significantly increased the pulling power of the captured animals. Among domestic animals, mainly pigs and cattle were bred. Gradually, the keeping of poultry also spread. Pigs were fattened in the forest, pastures and meadows provided fodder for the other animals. Foods of animal origin (meat, bacon, fat, cheese, milk) played an important role. Fish was a favorite food, because meat could not be eaten during fasting. By the 18th century, the yield of wheat in Europe had increased to 0.5–0.7 t/ha; continued to rise very slowly. Based on this, by analyzing the statistical data of the period between 1650 and 1800, Thomas Malthus derived the well-known law of the population limit.

Crop rotation

Industrial production systems

Methods of increasing fertility

Already in ancient times, it was noticed that flowing rivers spread fertile mud over their flood plains. This became the main method of renewing fertility, especially in Egypt, in the Nile valley — so much so that the sowing-harvest cycles were also adapted to the floods of the river. In those areas where productivity was not renewed by such natural processes, the nutrients extracted from the soil had to be replaced artificially. For a long time, the two main methods of this were mineral and organic fertilization; these are largely the work from the second half of the 19th century