When did industrial agriculture start


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.


Where and when did agriculture most likely begin?

Most anthropologists agree that settled agriculture began in the Fertile Crescent in Mesopotamia around 8-10,000 B.C. Its spread across the ancient world allowed humans to stop their daily search for food and exert their energies into creating society.

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. …

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What is the history of industrial agriculture?

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What year did nomadic agriculture begin?

When did agriculture begin? Agriculture began about 10 to 12 thousand years ago in a time period known as the first agricultural revolution. It was at this time that humans began to domesticate plants and animals for food. Before the agricultural revolution, people relied on hunting wild animals and gathering wild plants for nutrition.


What started industrial agriculture?

The industrialization of agriculture began after World War II, as a way of addressing global hunger and making the food supply more efficient and safe. The global shift towards this model of farming in the last sixty years has come with many costs.

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.

When was factory farming introduced?

Factory farming is defined as the extreme confinement of livestock for commercial use. This agricultural technique was invented by scientists in the 1960s in an effort to maximize efficiency and production so that farms could manage a growing population and higher demand for meat.

When was the first factory farm built?

1920s: The mass production of chickens begins In the 1920s, a new era of industrial-scale farming began when poultry became the first factory-farmed animal. Chickens and hens were the first animals to be raised indoors in enormous quantities for egg production and slaughter.

What was the goal of industrialization?

The industrialization of agriculture is said to have achieved two goals: to “free” Americans from farming so they could join the labor force in offices and factories, and to make food and farming cheaper so Americans could afford to buy the products offered by new industries. 4. Photo public domain.

When was nitrogen fertilizer introduced?

Fertilizer applications on U.S. crops, 1964–92. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, introduced in the early 1900s, have been credited with feeding the lion’s share of a global population that grew from 1.6 to 6 billion over the 20 th century.

What crops were cut from the fields?

In some cases, mechanization brought tremendous gains in efficiency. Grain and bean crops, such as corn, wheat, rice, and soy, must be cut from the fields (reaped) and removed from the inedible parts of the plant (threshed). Doing this by hand involves an enormous amount of time and effort.

What were the benefits of new technology for farmers?

New technology, including chemicals and larger tractors, allowed farmers to work larger areas of land with less labor. 2 Government policies encouraged farmers to scale up their operations. Farmers were also motivated by economies of scale—the economic advantage of producing larger numbers of products.

What is the shift toward fewer and larger farms?

Consolidation in agriculture is the shift toward fewer and larger farms. The total number of U.S. farms declined from 5.39 million to 1.91 million between 1950 and 1997. Over the same period, the average size of U.S. farms more than doubled (from 215 to 487 acres). 17. Consolidation in U.S. hog farms, 1955–2015.

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 …

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.

What is industrial agriculture?

Industrial agriculture is all about controlling nature, curating the land for human use, and choosing which plants are valuable. Although much of biodiversity loss is a secondary result of farming techniques (think: habitat loss or unintended chemical runoff), plants are often eradicated on purpose (think: weeds).

How has industrial agriculture helped the world?

Industrial agriculture has had great success in producing abundant, low-cost food. World hunger has been declining for decades, and food production per capita has increased sharply since the 1960s. But this success has come with costs that raise questions about the sustainability and the unintended effects of the global “rationalization” …

What are the uses of insecticides?

Insecticides are intensively used to combat insect pests, such as fruit and corn borers (e.g. tomato fruit borer Helicoverpa armigera, eggplant fruit borer Leucinodes orbonalis, and the European corn borer Ostrinia nubilalis) or the diamondback moth Plutella xylostella, to avoid economic damage. For instance, only the costs for insecticides to control the invasive spotted wing fruit fly Drosophila suzukii in sweet cherry production in Switzerland amount to approximately US$ 313/ha (Mazzi et al., 2017 ). Furthermore, insecticides provide a key management tool against anopheline and aedine mosquito disease carriers for malaria and dengue, but also against tsetse flies, fleas, and others ( WHO, 2012 ). Disease agents transmitted by animal vectors (mainly insects) cause altogether more than 1 million human deaths per year ( WHO, 2016 ).

How have individuals and groups responded to industrial agriculture?

Individuals and groups have responded to industrial agriculture by using their purchasing power to support sources of locally grown food. One manifestation is ‘community-supported agriculture’ (CSA), in which individuals purchase ‘shares’ in a particular farm’s annual crop.

Is industrial agriculture sustainable?

It is generally accepted that industrial agriculture that uses large swathes of monocultures, tillage, and injudicious application of inorganic fertilizers is unsustainable. To make it sustainable, ecofriendly approaches, such as no-till, cover cropping, growing more genetically diverse crops, crop rotation, the use of organic fertilizers and integrated pest management strategies are becoming more relied upon. Residue management practices and tillage affect the water holding capacity of soil, its physical properties, temperature, and microbial activity. Some microbial isolates showing tolerance against various abiotic stresses are listed in Table 3.1.

What is industrial agriculture?

Industrial agriculture is the large-scale, intensive production of crops and animals, often involving chemical fertilizers on crops or the routine , harmful use of antibiotics in animals (as a way to compensate for filthy conditions, even when the animals are not sick). It may also involve crops that are genetically modified, …

How long has agriculture been around?

Human agriculture has existed for about 12,000 years, and industrial farming is less than a century old. But the latter has become so prevalent that sustainable farming practices are now sometimes branded “alternative.”

How does crop farming affect the environment?

There is soil depletion and soil infertility related to monoculture, soil erosion, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, increased greenhouse gas emissions (particularly methane and nitrous oxide) from cow digestion and manure as well as nitrogen-based fertilizers, and pesticide overuse leading to potential pesticide toxicity (especially in farmworkers). Studies show that employees of CAFOs are at risk from potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria; workers can also bring these bacteria home. Farmworkers and local communities can also be exposed to hazardous fumes wafting from unlined, uncovered pits of animal waste and other sources. And despite the fact that CAFOs often must meet permitting requirements and are regulated by both state and federal agencies, NRDC has discovered a worrying lack of transparency. Discrepancies between data collected by states and the EPA suggest the EPA is unaware of the size, number, and location of CAFOs across the country and what those operations are doing to control pollution. And that’s just for starters. Here are some areas of particular concern.

How much manure was produced in 2012?

In 2012 livestock and poultry raised in the largest CAFOs in the United States produced 369 million tons of manure, according to an analysis of USDA figures done by Food & Water Watch. All that waste has to go somewhere.

Why do industrial farms use antibiotics?

Industrial farms overuse antibiotics, feeding large amounts of the drugs—often the same ones used to treat human illnesses—to healthy animals to help them survive in crowded, dirty CAFOs. Low-level exposure to antibiotics creates the perfect breeding ground for superbugs, those pathogens that antibiotics can’t kill.

What did ancient farmers plant?

Ancient farmers planted seeds from only the sweetest fruits, generation after generation, ensuring that any genetic variations that increased sweetness survived. By selecting plants with increasingly white, increasingly tiny, flowers, farmers turned a weedy little herb into cauliflower. It was slow but effective.

What is a factory farm?

The term “factory farm” is commonly used to refer to large, industrialized facilities raising animals for food, but it isn’t a legal or scientific term. The official name for these facilities is concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

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.

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 effects of mechanization on agriculture?

One consequence of mechanization and other agricultural advances was that farms grew larger. Agriculture became a business and favored the formation of estates. By 1815, the majority of farms in Britain were owned by a minority of landowners (often absentee) who saw their holdings as financial properties, largely independent of tradition and community values. They invested in more agricultural innovations, changing agriculture even more. Larger farms were more profitable, and led to the dominance of plantation farming, which continues to this day with agribusiness. (The value of U.S. agricultural exports in 1999 exceeded $50 billion.)

How long ago did agriculture start?

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

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.

What were the first foods that were domesticated in the New World?

The potato (8000 BC), tomato, pepper (4000 BC), squash (8000 BC) and several varieties of bean (8000 BC onwards) were domesticated in the New World. Agriculture was independently developed on the island of New Guinea.

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 has agriculture been around?

It is thought to have been practiced sporadically for the past 13,000 years, 1 and widely established for only 7,000 years. 2 In the long view of human history, this is just a flash in the pan compared to the nearly 200,000 years our ancestors spent gathering, hunting, and scavenging in the wild. During its brief history, agriculture has radically transformed human societies and fueled a global population that has grown from 4 million to 7 billion since 10,000 BCE, and is still growing. 3

How did farming help the population?

5 More abundant food supplies could support denser populations, and farming tied people to their land. Small settlements grew into towns, and towns grew into cities. 1.

What was the difference between hunter-gatherer and agriculture?

Whereas hunter-gatherer societies generally viewed resources as belonging to everyone, agriculture led to a system of ownership over land, food, and currency that was not (and is still not) equitably distributed among the people. 1,16.

How did small settlements grow into cities?

1. Agriculture produced enough food that people became free to pursue interests other than worrying about what they were going to eat that day. Those who didn’t need to be farmers took on roles as soldiers, priests, administrators, artists, and scholars.

What did people who didn’t need to be farmers do?

Those who didn’t need to be farmers took on roles as soldiers, priests, administrators, artists, and scholars. As early civilizations began to take shape, political and religious leaders rose up to rule them, creating classes of “haves” and “have-nots.”.

When was synthetic fertilizer invented?

First introduced in the early 1900s, synthetic fertilizers dramatically increased crop yields (though not without consequences ), and have been credited with providing the lion’s share of the world’s food over the 20 th century. 27 The use of these and other chemicals has become a hallmark of industrial agriculture.

When was the plow used in Egypt?

Grave chamber of an Egyptian public official, circa 1250 BCE. The plow is believed to have been used as early as 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. Although it brought tremendous gains in short-term productivity, it has also been a major contributor to soil erosion.

When did rice and millet farming start?

The origins of rice and millet farming date to around 6,000 B.C.E.

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 is the meaning of “agriculture”?

agriculture. Noun. the art and science of cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching). annual plant. Noun. plant with a life cycle of no more than one year, and often much less. barley. Noun. grass cultivated as a grain.

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, …

Where did the wild produce originate?

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. Though the transition from wild harvesting was gradual, the switch from a nomadic to a settled way of life is marked by the appearance of early Neolithic villages with homes equipped with grinding stones for processing grain.

When was the prehistoric period?

prehistoric period where human ancestors made and used stone tools, lasting from roughly 2.5 million years ago to 7000 BCE. movement from one position to another. most widely grown cereal in the world.

What was the first invention of the Industrial Revolution?

Eli Whitney another inventor born in America in 1765, made another key invention of the industrial revolution, the cotton gin (picture to the right) which was invented in 1794. A cotton gin is a machine that quickly separates cotton fibers from their seeds. The invention of the cotton gin allowed for much greater productivity than manual labor, resulting in this invention greatly increasing the production rate for clothing and other cotton goods. Despite the cotton gins success, Whitney made little money from his invention due to patent-infringement issues. For his work, he is credited as a pioneer of American manufacturing. 16

Why was agriculture the largest source of employment?

Though the labor was difficult, agricultural work became the largest source of employment because of the ‘self-supply’ benefit, which is the ability to stock their own food stores through their own work.

What were the negative effects of the agricultural revolution?

Another negative that came from the Agricultural Revolution was the necessary conditions needed for efficient farming, such as; adequate farm buildings, access of roads, drainage of wetlands, transport facilities for marketing, and sources of finance for farmers.These were negative effects seen across Europe by many who joined in the Revolution.

Why did farmers work six days a week?

1 2. Before the Industrial Revolution, agriculture workers labored six days a week, from sun up to sun down, just to keep their crops growing. 1 Certain seasons were more demanding than others, specifically the plowing and harvest seasons. 2 Because of the intensity and necessity of agricultural labor, it was the largest employment source in …

How did Jethro Tull contribute to the Industrial Revolution?

Jethro Tull contributed to the industrial revolution by innovating new machines to greatly increase agricultural productivity. 9 Tull realized the importance of well cultivated soil and accessing the minerals below the topsoil.



Challenges and issues

The challenges and issues of industrial agriculture for global and local society, for the industrial agriculture sector, for the individual industrial agriculture farm, and for animal rights include the costs and benefits of both current practices and proposed changes to those practices. This is a continuation of thousands of years of the invention and use of technologies in feeding ever growing populations.

Historical development and future prospects

Industrial agriculture arose hand in hand with the Industrial Revolution in general. The identification of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus (referred to by the acronym NPK) as critical factors in plant growth led to the manufacture of synthetic fertilizers, making possible more intensive types of agriculture. The discovery of vitamins and their role in animal nutrition, in the first two decades of the 20th century, led to vitamin supplements, which in the 1920s allowed certain livestock to be …


“Concentrated animal feeding operations” or “intensive livestock operations”, can hold large numbers (some up to hundreds of thousands) of animals, often indoors. These animals are typically cows, hogs, turkeys, or chickens. The distinctive characteristics of such farms is the concentration of livestock in a given space. The aim of the operation is to produce as much meat, eggs, or milk at the lowest possible cost and with the greatest level of food safety.


The projects within the Green Revolution spread technologies that had already existed, but had not been widely used outside of industrialized nations. These technologies included pesticides, irrigation projects, and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.
The novel technological development of the Green Revolution was the production of what some referred to as “miracle seeds.” Scientists created strains of maize, wheat, and rice that are generall…

Sustainable agriculture

The idea and practice of sustainable agriculture has arisen in response to the problems of industrial agriculture. Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals: environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities. These goals have been defined by a variety of disciplines and may be looked at from the vantage point of the farmer or the consumer.



  • 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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