Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock.
Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities. Industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on subsistence agriculture.
The major agricultural products can be broadly grouped into foods, fibers, fuels and raw materials (such as rubber). Food classes include cereals (grains), vegetables, fruits, oils, meat, milk, eggs and fungi. Over one-third of the world's workers are employed in agriculture, second only to the service sector, although in recent decades, the global trend of a decreasing number of agricultural workers continues, especially in developing countries where smallholding is being overtaken by industrial agriculture and mechanization that brings an enormous crop yield increase.
Agribusiness treats the different aspects of raising agricultural products as an integrated system. Farmers raise animals and harvest fruits and vegetables with the help of sophisticated harvesting techniques, including the use of GPS to direct operations. Manufacturers develop increasingly efficient machines that can drive themselves. Processing plants determine the best way to clean and package livestock for shipping. While each subset of the industry is unlikely to interact directly with the consumer, each is focused on operating efficiently in order to keep prices reasonable.
Countries with farming industries face consistent pressures from global competition. Products such as wheat, corn, and soybeans tend to be similar in different locations, making them commodities. Remaining competitive requires agribusinesses to operate more efficiently, which can require investments in new technologies, new ways of fertilizing and watering crops, and new ways of connecting to the global market.
The use of new technology is vital to remain competitive in the global agribusiness sector. Farmers need to reduce crop costs and increase yield per square acre to remain competitive. New drone technology is at the cutting edge of the industry. These techniques, including soil and field analysis, planting, and crop monitoring, will be key to improving crop yields and moving the agribusiness sector forward.