Agriculture is the process of producing food, feed, fiber and other products by the cultivation of certain plants and the raising of domestic animals. The practice of agriculture is also known as "farming".
There are many types of farming. They can be classified into many groups. The groups are Economic status, Specialization, Intensity of land use and land tenure. Economic Status includes subsistence farming and commercial farming. Subsistence is when the food produced is just enough to meet the farmers needs i.e. enough to feed his whole family. Commercial Farming, or factory farming, is the growing of crops or rearing of animals for sale. It is very common in MEDCs and is rapidly increasing every where else.
The specialization criteria includes Arable, pastoral and mixed (arable and pastoral) farming. Extensive and intensive farming fall under the intensity of land use. Shifting and nomadic cultivation and sedentary farming fall under land tenure.
Farming produces goods such as cut flowers, decorative and nursery plants, timber, fertilizers, leather, industrial chemicals (starch, sugar, ethanol, alcohols and plastics), fibers, fuels and both legal and illegal drugs. Genetically engineered plants and animals produce specialty drugs.
Commercial Farming is farming for a profit, where food is produced by advanced technological means for sale in the market. In other words Commercial farmers sell their crops and animals in order to make a profit. It often employs very few workers. There are many types of commercial farming. For E.g. Ranching, Plantation, Fish farming, flower growing etc.
It uses large amounts of capital for equipment and fertilizer, pesticides, improved varieties and other advance technology
It includes tropical & sub-tropical plantations, mid-latitude grain farming, vegetable & fruit cultivation, mixed crop & livestock farming, and livestock ranching
A Plantation is a large farm in the tropics where one main cash crop is grown. It is often run by a transnational corporation.
A crop sold in the market for cash is a cash crop. The term cash crop is often applied to crops grown in LEDCs which are exported to the MEDCs.
Cash crops like rice, citrus fruits, palms, coffee, coca, opium, tea, soybeans, cacao, rubber, and bananas are cultivated on large areas of land. Some of these crops are better adapted to such conditions and last longer on cleared forest lands. However there are several problems with plantations in the tropics, besides the loss of forest.
â€¢ First, such planting of a single crop makes the crop highly open to disease and pests.
â€¢ Second, the planting of monocultures can be economically risky with the instability in price being so common in international merchandise markets.
â€¢ Additionally, a single cold spell or drought can devastate the tremendous part of the agricultural economy.
Extensive commercial farming
The main farming activities here are monocultures of cereal cash crops in very large open fields (plantations). And very high reliance on machinery and technology.
Physical factors leading to these farming activities are huge areas of land being available. And the climate is insignificant and not suited to more intensive types of farming.
Human factors leading to those farming activities include:
â€¢ The land is fairly cheap, so large areas can be purchased.
â€¢ Population density is low so there is little pressure on the land to be used for other purposes.
â€¢ Large farms generating large profits require large subsidies by large corporations for expensive machinery and technology.
â€¢ An increase in the use of contract labour, especially at harvest times, reflects the small labour force employed full-time on farms.
Plantation Crops in Cambodia
Cambodia has been promoting the therapy of rubber plantations as well as the development of new ones. As long as rubber plantations involve using large areas of land, many people have been expelled from their traditional lands and many more have lost their livelihoods, to make way for the plantations. The only plantation crop of importance to the Cambodian economy has until recently been rubber. However, they believed that oil palm is likely to develop into a major export commodity in the future.
Physical factors affecting rubber plantation:
Light: the most critical factor for the growth of the plant. The amount of light reaching the undergrowth varies with age, height, spacing and canopy characteristics of the tree crops.
Moisture/Rainfall: Generally there is little competition for moisture between the tree crops and the native cultivation.
Lower air temperature under the tree crops than in the open. Lower Soil temperature in the shade also showed at 5 cm depth compared with open pastures. In general, the decrease in air and soil temperature is too small to have any influence on native pasture growth under tropical environment.
â€¢ Chemicals labeled as â€˜highly and moderately hazardousâ€™ are used on plantations.
â€¢ Farm workers are not provided with the required protection devices or information on safe use of chemicals.
â€¢ Some of the plantations use pesticides that are toxic and are banned in other countries for their poisonous effects on farm workers.
â€¢ Child Labour:
â€¢ Children (if child labour used) are even more at risk when exposed to chemicals than adults, since their bodies are not full grown.
â€¢ The chemicals used are acids which are added in order to process the fluids from the rubber tree into rubber. Children here come into direct contact with chemicals. The acid irritates their skin and can cause serious injuries when it comes in contact with their eyes.
â€¢ Since rubber plantations are often owned and operated by families, chemicals are stored at home. It is bought from big barrels in the local store and kept in bottles. The bottles are not labeled and no safety warnings are to be found on them. Small children mistake the colorless acid in the bottles for water and drink it. This may cause death.
â€¢ Loss of land by native communities to business developers with the loss of livelihoods and traditional ways of life.
â€¢ Clearing of natural forests to make way for the plantation, leading to a loss of biodiversity.
â€¢ Loss of non-timber forest products for local communities.
â€¢ Air pollution when burning is used to clear the land.
â€¢ Increased amounts of pests and rodents.
â€¢ Increased use of pesticides and fertilizers which pollute nearby water sources.
â€¢ Pollution from the processing of latex.
â€¢ Increased soil erosion and reduced run-off control.
Subsistence farming is a mode of agriculture in which a plot of land produces only enough food to feed the family working it. Depending on climate, soil conditions, agricultural practices and the crop grown, it generally requires between 1,000 and 40,000 mÐ† per person. Subsistence farming usually takes place in LEDCs. It uses simple technology and low capital investment. There is often no food left to sell. Most farmers manage now to sell some of their output at some times during the year. Good weather may occasionally allow them to produce a little extra for sale or trade, but surpluses are rare. It does not require specialization of labour or the accumulation of capital. Types of Subsistence farming include nomadic herding, shifting cultivation, rive growing, etc. Rice growing is a sustainable form of farming.
Wet padi, a variety of rice, needs a rich soil. It is grown in silt which is deposited annually by the Ganges and its tributaries during the monsoon floods. The part of India and Bangladesh has high temperatures, over 21 degrees Celsius, throughout the year, and the continuous growing season allows two crops to be grown annually on the same piece of land. Rice, initially grown in nurseries, is transplanted as soon as the monsoon rains flood the padi-fields. During the dry season, when there is often insufficient water for rice, either vegetables or a cereal crop is grown.
Subsistence agriculture also requires a high input of energy, but from humans and animals rather than from fossil fuels.
Some types of subsistence agriculture require large areas of land.
Rice is a plant that requires plenty of water and heat.
Rice growing is labour-intensive. Much manual effort is needed to construct the bunds (embankments) around the padi-fields, to build (where needed) irrigation canals, to prepare the field, and to plant, weed and harvest the crop. Many farms, especially near the delta, are very small. They may only measure one hectare and be divided into 12 or 15 plots. The smallness of the farms and the poverty of the people mean that hand-labour to be used rather than machines. Water buffalo (oxen) provide manure and are used in preparing the padi-fields.
Planting rice in nursery; ploughing and transplanting rice into padi-field; harvesting rice, planting winter wheat. Harvesting wheat; growing vegetables; looking after chicken.
Rice fields are called paddy fields. They have low walls around them because they are flooded with water. In hilly areas, the paddy fields are terraced down the hill- sides. In spring banteng, or native oxen, pull wooden ploughs to stir up the soil ready for planting the seedlings. The paddies are flooded and the seedlings are planted by hand.
Several weeks later, flowers appear on the plants and then the plants produce grains in husks. In late summer, watering is stopped and the rice is harvested. Workers each use a sharp knife and cut off the stalks at ground level.
Then the rice is threshed to separate the grains from the stalks. To separate the rice grains from the husks, the rice is winnowed. To winnow, workers toss rice grains on woven trays. The heavy grains fall back into the tray and the husks blow away. The rice can then be stored.
Rice and some wheat, vegetables, chicken (eggs/meat).
Problems of Rice Growing