Pre-Industrial Agriculture The Green Revolution & Industrialization
Pre-Industrial Agriculture The Green Revolution & Industrialization PLS 150
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Chelsea Opong-Wadeer on Thursday September 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PLS 150 at University of Rhode Island taught by Nathaniel Mitkowski in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see Plants, People and the Planet in Plant Science at University of Rhode Island.
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Date Created: 09/22/16
Pre-Industrial Agriculture The Green Revolution & Industrialization 9/14/16 Agriculture: Horticulture is growing plants Agriculture is growing food and raising stock animals Today we grow food "industrially" Pre-industrial agriculture ended with the Green Revolution Pilgrim Farming: Before the 1700's farming was limited, slow to start Food came from very small farms and often from English ships The New World different from the Old World (summers hotter, winters colder, unpredictable weather) o Northern Europe for example very consistent weather patterns Harvest all about the weather New England Agriculture: Without large, productive farms, population growth is limited Villages barley hang on Unfortunately, New England is a rock pile with a short growing season o The worst place to be to farm/to grow crops o Many moved out west Crop type was limited: rye, corn, squash, beans, peas, and apples Farming is life: In pre-industrial agriculture, if you did not farm, you starved Subsistence farming was the norm o Still exist in areas of Africa and Haiti o Everything you grow is for your own consumption BUT, farming is hard without technology, required considerable skill and ingenuity What is pre-industrial farming? Every member of the family was part of the farm o Reason why parents had so many children Enough food needed to be grown and processed for the whole year Extra could be sold, if it existed Crop failures were disastrous Little or no powered machinery Lots of animal labor Lots of manual, human labor No pesticides or chemicals Little or no fertilizer Little or no irrigation Disasters: 1315: The Great Famine of Europe o Drought/heat o This started the dark ages 1692: The Salem With Trials o Food was contaminated by fungus actually similar to LSD 1850: The Irish Potato Famine All of these were unavoidable consequences of pre-industrial agriculture that changed society The Green Revolution: Happened between 1940-1960 Started with World War II Allowed crop production to skyrocket New varieties, adapted to mass production on millions of acres Required fertilizer, pesticides, irrigation, and mechanization HYV (High Yielding Varieties) wheat, rice and corn Norman Borlaug brought IR8 rice to India, on the brink of famine o Sparked The Green Revolution o IR8 rice produce 10X as much grain as old varieties Price of rice is less than half of what it was in 1970, India actually exports Norman Borlaug: o Awarded Nobel Peace prize o Responsible for saving nearly a billion human lives with his work as a plant pathologist and advocate. Pre-Green Revolution: Old varieties (land races) could grow without much input Low yield but reliable New varieties REQUIRED inputs (expense/technology) but gave yield Synthetic fertilizer and pesticide development boomed after WWII Industrialization of ag Green revolution is actually BLACK! o Meaning it is dependent upon oil Does not happen over night Starts with tractor, seeders, combines Small farms disappear, merge into larger farms Fertilizer, pesticides, inputs Other consequences: Continual plant breeding Genetic engineering o Anything that came out of a box is genetically modified Monocultures o Meaning one thing o Plants are now very alike Large farms, fewer farmers Corporations drive agriculture BUT, any food is always available Population concerns: Without industrial agriculture, billions of people would starve The planet currently supports 1.5X as many people as sustainable o Only able to have this many people because of oil Carrying capacity varies with agriculture output When we run out of oil? Haber-Bosch: Germany in 1909-1913 Makes fertilizer out of air + methane o Air=nitrogen o Methane= hydrogens Methane comes from natural gas Very high pressure and temperature Still the primary process used today Industrial farming (good): Easy to grow lots of food, quantity A few people can grow all your food Food can be produced cheaply Uniformity of product Regular availability of food products Very high quality products (?) Industrial farming issues: Relies on oil Oil runs farm equipment Oil (natural gas) synthetic fertilizer Oil for pesticide production Oil runs irrigation pumps Only a few people grow all our food Could you grow your own food? o Yes What about decision makers? o Corporations decide what to grow Agriculture can be concentrated What about animals? Manure? Choice of crop is based on dollars Farmers only grow what they can sell in large amounts o Because people will only buy what they know Diversity of products is low ($$$) Hundreds of apple varieties, how many can you name? Products must be shipped (oil) Will they be fresh? Will they ripe? How long has it been in transit? Which varieties can we get? The best tasting is not always the best shipping product Pesticides Weeds are a farmers worst enemy Herbicides are cheap, labor is not Insecticides, fungicides Environmental fate? Consumer safety? And what about soil degradation? The EPA: EPA assesses pesticide risk Pesticides have max application rates Total annual amounts Days to harvest o Can't spray 30 days before harvest Each pesticide has a legal label, designed to minimize use to the least amount necessary for control Industrial farming: Without it, the world starves Without it, food becomes seasonal o Think Pilgrims time period o What they grew in that period was what they could eat that season But it relies on nonrenewable inputs How do you solve this problem? Solutions: Reduce inputs? Go organic? Control population growth? o The faster we grow as a population the harder it is to feed ourselves Employ sustainable practices? Sustainable agriculture: To sustain means to persevere SA tries to use practices allowing for continued and perpetual farming How can we use the land without abusing it? Can we ensure we all have food? What is the least sustainable, human induced agricultural mess in all of human history? The Dust Bowl The Dust Bowl Very dusty 1930's from Canada to Texas Millions of acres of topsoil lost 2.5 million people displaced The Dust Bowl: why? Catastrophic drought Poor agronomic practices (destruction of native prairie) Lack of soil stewardship, burning stubble, no cover cropping, etc... Economics of wheat and commodity markets (following WWI) Solutions?
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