Primary Source Archives
Gale Primary Sources offers agriculture archives and collections that provide researchers with firsthand content.
Dig deep into the field of agriculture, which is the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock. Agriculture may also involve the readying and marketing of produce and livestock for market.
While many people equate agriculture with farming, the term tends to refer more to the business of farming on a larger scale for the purposes of selling produce and livestock to others; the larger scale of agriculture vs. a small family farm involves far more people and other businesses, including scientists who study the physical, biological, and chemical makeup of food and seeds to improve harvest yields and food processing; businesses that sell large-scale farm machinery, such as tractors, irrigation systems, and harvesters; and the farmers and ranchers themselves.
The 20th century saw a rapid consolidation of farms as agriculture came to be dominated by large companies such as Monsanto. Technological and scientific advancements, such as the development of pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs, industrial-sized livestock operations), led to a remarkable increase in crop and livestock yields. At the same time, critics expressed concerns that these developments were a major contributor to environmental pollution as well as inhumanity to the animals. These concerns led to the growth of organic farming, in which chemicals aren’t used.
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