How industrial agriculture came into existence


Industrial agriculture got an early start in the United States. To avoid the laborious task of manuring soils to supply nutrients, inorganic fertilizers, such as superphosphates, came into use as early as the 1840s.


What are the pros and cons of industrial agriculture?

What Are the Pros of Factory Farming?

  1. It keeps prices down for consumers. Factory farming allows for livestock products to be produce on a large economic scale. …
  2. It allows automation to help provide food resources. In the past, farming meant an intense amount of daily manual labor to produce a crop. …
  3. It improves production efficiencies. …

More items…

When did industrial agriculture begin?

Industrial Revolution, in modern history, the process of change from an agrarian and handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacturing. The process began in Britain in the 18th century and from there spread to other parts of the world, driving changes in energy use, socioeconomics, and culture.

How did agriculture affect the Industrial Revolution?

How did agriculture change with industrialization? The Agricultural Revolution of the 18th century paved the way for the Industrial Revolution in Britain. New farming techniques and improved livestock breeding led to amplified food production. This allowed a spike in population and increased health.

What are some early agriculture inventions?

What were 2 agricultural inventions?

  • Reaper. For several centuries, small grains were harvested by hand.
  • Thresher.
  • Steam Engine.
  • Combine.
  • Automobile.
  • Tractor.
  • Hydraulics.

How did industrial agriculture start?

The early 1900s saw the introduction of synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, innovations that have become a hallmark of industrial crop production.

When did agricultural industrialization start?

Because of the difficulty of agricultural work, it became necessary to innovate the agricultural industry, thus beginning the Agricultural Revolution which arguably started in the mid-18th century.

Where did industrial farming start?

Who Started Factory Farming? Factory farms as the systems of large-scale confinement we know today began in the United States with the industrial raising of chickens.

Why did the Industrial Revolution start?

With a stable political situation, a sophisticated financial sector, surplus capital, and higher agricultural productivity expanding the pool of labor, a flood of innovation started the Industrial Revolution.

What is meant by industrialization of agriculture?

As discussed above, industrialized agriculture refers to the use of mechanical tools and advanced technology for maximizing the crop yield. In this type of agriculture, the focus is mainly on maximizing the yield of fewer types of crops for more sales and greater profits, instead of diversification of the crops.

How did the rise of industrial agriculture impact the world?

Industrial agriculture pollutes the air, water, and soil with toxic agrochemicals and livestock manure. It is a major source of pollution, accounting for more than twenty-percent of total greenhouse gas emissions even more than transportation.

How did agriculture contribute to the Industrial Revolution?

The Agricultural Revolution of the 18th century paved the way for the Industrial Revolution in Britain. New farming techniques and improved livestock breeding led to amplified food production. This allowed a spike in population and increased health. The new farming techniques also led to an enclosure movement.

What are the characteristics of industrial agriculture?

Industrial agriculture is currently the dominant food production system in the United States. It’s characterized by large-scale monoculture, heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and meat production in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations).

What were the most important things about farming in the early 1900s?

In the early 1900s, more than half of Americans were either farmers or lived in rural communities. 1 Most U.S. farms were diversified, meaning they produced a variety of crops and animal species together on the same farm, in complementary ways. 2 Farmers were skilled in a wide range of trades and had autonomy over how to manage their crops and animals. Animals were typically raised with access to the outdoors. Most of the work on the farm was done by human or animal labor.

What were the main crops that were produced by diversified farms?

Diversified farms gave way to genetically uniform monocultures—fields planted with just one crop species at a time, such as corn, wheat, or soy, over a very large area. Meat, milk, and egg production became largely separated from crop production and involved facilities that housed a single breed of animal, during a particular period of its lifespan, for a single purpose (e.g., breeding, feeding, or slaughter). Farmers, once skilled in a breadth of trades, fell into more specialized roles.

How much grain can a mechanized thresher process?

Mechanization brought tremendous gains in efficiency. By hand, a person can thresh roughly 15 to 40 kg of grain per hour, usually by beating the harvested crop against a hard surface to shake the grain loose from the inedible chaff that surrounds it. In the same amount of time, a mechanized thresher can process 450 to 600 kg of rice, sorghum, or beans, or 1,500 to 2,000 kg of corn. 8

What is a specialized farmer?

Specialized farmers, by contrast, can focus all their knowledge, skills, and equipment on one or two enterprises, such as growing corn and soy, or fattening beef cattle. Over the course of industrialization, specialization was applied to nearly all facets of food production. Diversified farms gave way to genetically uniform monocultures—fields …

How does specialization help farmers?

Specialization aims to increase efficiency by narrowing the range of tasks and roles involved in production. A diversified farmer, for example, might need to manage and care for many different vegetable crops, a composting operation, a flock of egg-laying hens, a sow, and her litter of piglets. Specialized farmers, by contrast, can focus all their knowledge, skills, and equipment on one or two enterprises, such as growing corn and soy, or fattening beef cattle. Over the course of industrialization, specialization was applied to nearly all facets of food production.

What was the meatpacking plant in Chicago?

The meatpacking plant of Chicago’s Union Stockyards was a sprawling facility that handled the slaughter, processing, packaging, and distribution of cattle and swine. In operation by 1865, it was among the earliest U.S. businesses to exemplify the industrial model, setting precedents other industries would follow.

When a small number of companies have a large market share of an industry, the market for that industry is said?

When a small number of companies have a large market share of an industry, the market for that industry is said to be concentrated. Markets become more concentrated when companies take over, or merge with, their competitors.

Why did the agricultural revolution happen?

In order for farmers to benefit from excess food production, they had to get their crops to market, so the agricultural revolution became an impetus for the development of roads, bridges, tunnels, and canals. The rapid growth of railroads was also strongly driven by the need to get a valuable, perishable product to consumers. To manage this market, commodities exchanges were created. The Chicago Board of Trade was established in 1848.

How did farming discourage innovation?

This type of farming had built-in inefficiencies, such as the need to move laborers and draft animals from field to field. It also discouraged innovation because the potential consequences were terrifying: Under the best of circumstances, poor harvests could be expected every eight or nine years. Two crop failures in a row led to famine, so there was little margin for change without putting the entire community at risk. The tools of farming—the scythe, the wooden plow, and the hoe—remained as they had been for hundreds of years. People were even cautious about introducing new crops, such as potatoes and corn, that had been brought back from the Americas.

How did agriculture change in the 1700s?

Agricultural technology changed more dramatically in the 1700s than at any time since the introduction of draft animals millennia before. Mechanized planting and threshing made farms more efficient, threw workers off the farm, and altered the very shape of the countryside. Scientific approaches were applied to agriculture, and books helped spread new ideas and approaches. At the end of the century, cotton became a force for change: Whitney’s gin made cotton profitable for the first time in the American South and helped support the continuation of slavery. Off the farm cotton mills led the way in industrialization. Farm mechanization made food supplies more stable and more plentiful, supporting a surge in population and leading to unprecedented growth in cities.

How did enclosure systems affect agriculture?

By contrast the enclosure system developed in the Low Countries, transformed farming into an efficient, pseudo-industrial endeavor. When plots of land were allocated to specific owners, the profitability of each tract became the responsibility of its farmer. This encouraged mechanization, reduced labor costs, and encouraged innovation. For the large landowners, who had sponsored enclosure laws, the result was an industrialization of farming, more arable land, and exceptionally high agricultural productivity. For smaller landowners, privatization was a disaster; farmers could no longer distribute risk or share resources, and they were even held responsible for the costs of fencing. Still, the overall effect was more food from less labor.

What were the three inventions that led to the Industrial Revolution?

In the eighteenth century, the world witnessed a revolution in agriculture led by three inventions—the seed drill, the threshing machine, and the cotton gin. Complementing these new tools were new ideas, set forth in books. The agricultural revolution paved the way for the Industrial Revolution, both by showing how the new ideas of science could be put to practical use and by freeing the manpower needed for factories.

What were the major developments in farming in the 1700s?

There were many other important developments in farming in the 1700s: Charles Newbold invented a cast-iron plow that could dig more deeply into the soil in 1797. Joseph Boyce developed an early reaper (1799). New crops were introduced, and Viscount Charles Townsend helped end the practice of letting fields lie fallow by showing that rotating soil-enriching crops, such as turnips and clover, with traditional crops kept the soil fertile. This put 50% more land into use and increased the supply of available cattle feed.

How did farmers benefit from the prize offered by Napoleon?

Here they benefited from a prize offered by Napoleon in 1794 for a practical means of food preservation. In 1810, Nicolas Appert (1750-1841) invented canning. With a way to preserve their products indefinitely and deliver them to ever more remote destinations, markets once again expanded for farmers.

Who was the secretary of agriculture under Roosevelt?

Henry Wallace sent Borlaug to Mexico where Borlaug began to conceive of the green revolution. Henry Wallace was Roosevelt’s Secretary of Agriculture and he also ran for president back in the 40s. He had two terms as Secretary of Agriculture under Roosevelt.

What did Liebig discover about plants?

He narrowed it down to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Having isolated those elements for the leaves and the roots he stated a theory, which is called the theory (law) of the minimum. Whichever nutrient is available to the plants and then the minimum amount will determine that plant’s ability to grow.

Do farmers save seed for next year?

Heather – Whereas, since time began farmers have always saved their seed for next year’s crop.


Industrial agricultural practices are often presented as necessary for feeding growing human populations around the world because they increase crop yields. But it is important to understand that a healthy food system is about more than producing large volumes of calories. It also matters what types of food are produced and how their production impacts the animals and people involved in farming. The high yields of industrial agriculture come with significant damage to animal, human, and environmental health and a host of negative consequences that threaten future productivity.


The US is the birthplace of industrial agriculture and remains the global leader in industrial farming. Despite recent consumer interest in more humane and sustainable options, one study estimates that nearly 99% of all animals raised for food in the US still come from CAFOs. While the exact global extent of industrial farming remains unclear, the US model of high-input, production-oriented farming has been spreading to the rest of the globe since the 1950s, restructuring and weakening food systems around the world. [27]


In either case, the hallmarks of industrial agriculture described below have far-reaching impacts.

Where did agriculture originate?

By 8000 BC, farming was entrenched on the banks of the Nile. About this time, agriculture was developed independently in the Far East, probably in China, with rice rather than wheat as the primary crop. Maize was domesticated from the wild grass teosinte in southern Mexico by 6700 BC.

How did the Industrial Revolution affect agriculture?

Between the 17th century and the mid-19th century, Britain saw a large increase in agricultural productivity and net output. New agricultural practices like enclosure, mechanization, four-field crop rotation to maintain soil nutrients, and selective breeding enabled an unprecedented population growth to 5.7 million in 1750, freeing up a significant percentage of the workforce, and thereby helped drive the Industrial Revolution. The productivity of wheat went up from 19 US bushels (670 l; 150 US dry gal; 150 imp gal) per acre in 1720 to around 30 US bushels (1,100 l; 240 US dry gal; 230 imp gal) by 1840, marking a major turning point in history.

What are the social issues that modern agriculture has raised?

Modern agriculture has raised social, political, and environmental issues including overpopulation, water pollution, biofuels, genetically modified organisms, tariffs and farm subsidies. In response, organic farming developed in the twentieth century as an alternative to the use of synthetic pesticides.

How has agriculture changed since 1900?

Since 1900, agriculture in the developed nations, and to a lesser extent in the developing world, has seen large rises in productivity as human labour has been replaced by mechanization, and assisted by synthe tic fertilizers, pesticides, and selective breeding.

What were the crops that were introduced in the Middle Ages?

In the Middle Ages, both in the Islamic world and in Europe, agriculture was transformed with improved techniques and the diffusion of crop plants, including the introduction of sugar, rice, cotton and fruit trees such as the orange to Europe by way of Al-Andalus.

Why was clover important to agriculture?

The use of clover was especially important as the legume roots replenished soil nitrates. The mechanisation and rationalisation of agriculture was another important factor.

How long ago did agriculture start?

Wild grains were collected and eaten from at least 105,000 years ago.

Why did people start farming?

In the Near East, for example, it’s thought that climatic changes at the end of the last ice age brought seasonal conditions that favored annual plants like wild cereals. Elsewhere, such as in East Asia, increased pressure on natural food resources may have forced people to find homegrown solutions. But whatever the reasons for its independent origins, farming sowed the seeds for the modern age.

What was the farming revolution?

Taking root around 12,000 years ago, agriculture triggered such a change in society and the way in which people lived that its development has been dubbed the ” Neolithic Revolution.”. Traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyles, followed by humans since their evolution, were swept aside in favor of permanent settlements …

What mutation occurred during the spread of farming into southeastern Europe?

But at some point during the spread of farming into southeastern Europe, a mutation occurred for lactose tolerance that increased in frequency through natural selection thanks to the nourishing benefits of milk.

Where did wheat come from?

The wild progenitors of crops including wheat, barley and peas are traced to the Near East region. Cereals were grown in Syria as long as 9,000 years ago, while figs were cultivated even earlier; prehistoric seedless fruits discovered in the Jordan Valley suggest fig trees were being planted some 11,300 years ago.

When did corn cobs first appear?

While maize-like plants derived from teosinte appear to have been cultivated at least 9,000 years ago, the first directly dated corn cob dates only to around 5,500 years ago . Corn later reached North America, where cultivated sunflowers also started to bloom some 5,000 years ago.

How long ago did goats come to Europe?

Dates for the domestication of these animals range from between 13,000 to 10,000 years ago. Genetic studies show that goats and other livestock accompanied the westward spread of agriculture into Europe, helping to revolutionize Stone Age society. While the extent to which farmers themselves migrated west remains a subject of debate, …

How long does a plant live?

plant with a life cycle of no more than one year, and often much less.

How did farming start?

The three field crop rotation system was replaced with a four field system and sweeping enclosure acts regulated land management, selective cross-breeding began on an industrial scale to increase crop size as well as yields creating several cultivars in the process. Animal husbandry also improved, leading to a greater surplus than had been permissible under the old system. It is said that these changes permitted the industrial revolution and even greater concentration of urban development, fueling the empire. How so? More crops for fewer workers, better methods of keeping and replacing nutrients in the soil meant that more people could work in industry. When the Corn Laws in England were repealed, it began the global food economy; about the same time, Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution put agriculture on the modern path of a science as we began to understand the development of crops.

Where did farming originate?

Archaeologists and palaeontologists have traced the origins of farming to around 10,000 years ago, to somewhere in the Indus Valley, and possibly as a separate development in China along the Yangtze River (6) .

What were the crops of Mesoamerica?

In Mesoamerica and South America, with the Inca, the Maya, Olmecs and the Aztecs, relatively early development of agriculture permitted the building of enormous cities that impressed the European colonizers; it was quickly identified that these civilizations had an impressive agriculture-based economy that stood on a par with Europe, challenging what was then understood about the development of civilization. In Mesoamerica it was corn and in South America it was the humble potato (18) – today the staple crop of most people in the western world, along with coca and the domestication of animal species such as llama and alpaca.

What was the Middle East’s agricultural revolution?

The Middle East continued to see much innovation in the agricultural industries, something that historians refer to as The Arab Agricultural Revolution (10). This was thanks to the diversity of the local topographies, the crops grown in the Middle East and Indus Valley that European societies coveted, and later acted as a trade bridge between Far East and Europe (11).

What is the early civilization?

Early Civilization. Early civilization can be considered a boom time in agricultural science and technology. Around 5500 BC (7, p26-28), the Sumerian civilization of the Middle East and other early pre Greco-Roman civilizations understood the need for a specialized agricultural workforce for their societies to thrive.

What is agriculture in the US?

Agriculture is defined as the cultivation and exploitation of animals, plants (including fungi) and other forms of organic life for human use including food, fiber, medicines, fuel and anything else. It is, and has been since there was an agricultural market, one of the largest employers of people; in the USA today, agriculture represents 20% of the US economy (1). Before organised agriculture, it is believed that the food supply could provide for just 4 million people globally (21).

When did agriculture start in North America?

It is likely that agriculture came to the North America relatively late, perhaps between 2500 and 2000 BC and we see it extensively with such civilizations as the Hohokam, the Anasazi and ancient Pueblos (17), possibly developing in Mesoamerica around 6000 BC with the domestication of maize.

When was agriculture invented?

In the Neolithic era , some argue that the real origin of agriculture cannot be established because by then writing has not been invented as at the time men started gathering and hunting. The earliest plants cultivated were rye (10,000 BCE), wild grain in Africa and Asia (20000 BCE), rachis (about 9500 BCE), wheat, barley, flax, peas, fig trees etc.

What is the history of agriculture?

Agriculture being a major source of the basic needs of man (food, shelter and clothes) and other products for human existence has over the years undergone modifications and applications. The history of agriculture is as old as human existence.

What was the agricultural system in the classical era?

The classical era of agriculture was dominated by the Romans & Greece which they learnt from the Sumerians. The Romans were known for their Monarial economic system . Their farms have various sizes-small, medium and large. The management of the farms were the farmers themselves, slave managers, tenant farming as well as leasing them to tenants. Depending on the type of soil, their agricultural specialization was based on the production of olive oil, wine and grains.

Why did Nutafian people start farming?

As a result of increased demand for agricultural products ( plant and animal products) people then commenced exploring agriculture so as to make it better and sustainable . The quest for better ways for agricultural production has therefore over the years encouraged increased demand for agricultural resources. By history, people that started agriculture believed that plants or crops that are now cultivated domestically were in past times wild in nature.

Why did man go into agriculture?

Besides, man has the responsibility of apart from taking good care of himself but also have responsibility of taking care of his family. Because food, shelter, clothes, medicines, etc are very important for the survival of humans, man had no choice other than to seek for a way to have these basic necessities and therefore propelled man into agriculture.

What were the crops that were grown in the Bronze Age?

The Sumerians used special labour force in addition to the use of land for monocropping and irrigation. This was followed by the Egyptians who were farming at the Nile valley. Grapes, wheat, barley, apples, dates, etc were some of the crops cultivated in this era. Oxen were used for ploughing and sickles were used in harvesting sickles. The Syrians were known to make use of wagons, oxen, collars and headstals.


Axelrod, S. J. “Health Problems in Industrialized Agriculture” School of Public Health. September 1949: 1172-1175. Print.

Cite This Work

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  • Specialization aims to increase efficiency by narrowing the range of tasks and roles involved in production. A diversified farmer, for example, might need to manage and care for many different vegetable crops, a composting operation, a flock of egg-laying hens, a sow, and her litter of piglets. Specialized farmers, by contrast, can focus all their knowledge, skills, and equipment on …

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  • Like work on an assembly line, specialized labor often involves repetitive tasks that can be performed by machines. This meant routine jobs like sowing seeds, harvesting crops, milking cows, and feeding and slaughtering animals could be mechanized, reducing (and in some cases eliminating) the need for human and animal labor. Between 1900 and 2000, the share of the U.S…

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Chemical and Pharmaceutical Inputs

  • The early 1900s saw the introduction of synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, innovations that have become a hallmark of industrial crop production. In just 12 years, between 1964 and 1976, synthetic and mineral fertilizer applications on U.S. crops nearly doubled, while pesticide use on major U.S. crops increased by 143 percent.10 The shi…

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  • Consolidation in agriculture is the shift toward fewer and larger farms, usually as a result of large farms getting larger and smaller farms going out of business. In the late 1950s, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson exemplified government pressure to consolidate when he called on farmers to “get big or get out.”15 Between 1950 and 1997, the average U.S. farm more than dou…

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Market Concentration

  • Market share is the proportion of an industry’s sales earned by one company. In the U.S. market for salty snacks, for example, 64 percent of sales are earned by PepsiCo.19 When a small number of companies have a large market share of an industry, the market for that industry is said to be concentrated. Markets become more concentrated when companies take over, or merge with, th…

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  • The following list of suggested resources is intended as a starting point for further exploration, and is not in any way comprehensive. Some materials may not reflect the views of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

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  • 1. Ikerd JE. Sustaining the profitability of agriculture. In: Economist’s Role in the Agricultural Sustainability Paradigm. San Antonio, TX: University of Missouri; 1996. 2. MacDonald J, Korb P, Hoppe R. Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming. 2013. 3. Rifkin J. Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture. New York, New York: Plume; 1993. 4. Ikerd JE. Sustainin…

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