Changes in Agriculture

Change in agriculture is not something that we refer to differences in 100 years ago and today’s modernized techniques. Agriculture is dynamic process. It  is changing everyday. The changes could be in the form of small decisions by a farmers to where, how and when to cultivate the next crop. The change is happening all over the world due to numerous factors but the most commons reasons are –

  1. Change in ecological factors – Global warming has changed the weather patterns around the world. The crop which was cultivated in rainy season is getting delayed due to late arrival of rains. Similarly, some winter crops are also delayed due to the late arrival of winters or less cold winters. There for the cropping seasons of have been changing and will keep changing as long as our environment is changing.
  2. Social factors – The changing economic status of the population also leads to change in the farming patterns and changes the types of productivity in a certain area. For example – good economic condition of the farmers lead to inclusion of more intensive inputs like heavy machinery, better seeds and irrigation facility further leading to more productivity.
  3. Political factors – Market incentives can encourage farmers to intensify the inputs leading to more production. Government policies which induce farmers to grow more changes the agricultural scenario in any particular area. Government in less developed countries provide subsidies to farmers and also introduce debt rebate policies to help farmers, especially with small land, to be able to not only feed their family but also to reach out market and sell their produce to earn profit. This changes increases the level of economic condition of farmer and directly or indirectly leads to change in agriculture.

How agriculture has changed?

During 90s, the availability of arable land was quite significant, as were the number of population involved in the farming. However, as the world became more modernized and technologically advanced, the amount of land kept aside for farming purposes saw a steep decline in the population who chose to live the farmer’s life.

According to an estimate, presently 2 percent of the population of the world is involved in agriculture producing food to serve the need of the world. The food yields have tremendously increased over the last century due to dynamic changes in the lifestyle of the people.

Innovation in technology

Innovation in the field of agriculture picked up the pace after the end of World War II. The dependence on machines increased and highly efficient tractors were now used instead of animals to plough the land, thus saving effort and time. Around 1940 one farmer if one farmer feed 20 people, with the use of technology, the same farmer was feeding more than 155 people with less time and effort. Even in animal farming the role of technology has made incubation of eggs, milking of cows, shearing of wool much easier than before.

Improved plant and animal breeding

Plant and animal breeding has gone through enormous change over the past 100 years. A single cell can now be used to create hundreds of plantlets and a single cell is also induced to breed animals. An increased focus on the diet, nutrition and sheltering prevent diseases which leads to higher yields and more quantity of food and dairy products.

Biotechnology

Seeds are improvised and new animals are hybridized to form new and better generations with the help of biotechnology. Biotechnology has improved the face of agriculture and has made farming a better and profitable source of income than it was a few decades ago. Even crops are induced to grow better grains and are fortified with many essential nutritional qualities to serve the nutritional need of the population. Also, these new breeds can withstand harsh climatic conditions thus reducing the chances of low outputs. A variety of crop can be planted on the same land resulting in different kinds of foods.

The changes in the field of agriculture are extremely critical for the ever increasing population of the world.

Case study

Green Revolution in 1960 turned the face of agriculture. Green revolution brought a big change in agriculture of countries like India and Indonesia. High yield variety of seeds and irrigation techniques were responsible for increase in the production of crops especially rice even in non- native areas of the country.

Note – First high yield rice that was used in Philippines was IR-8, also known as miracle rice, doubled the output.

Features of Green Revolution

  • Usage of large amount of fertilizers for high yield variety crops.
  • Sufficient and controlled water supply is needed.
  • Reduction in the growing period from 180 to 100 days.
  • Support of government in form of loans, waivers, advise, awareness and transport facilities to poor farmers

Advantages of Green Revolution

  • Increased production of rice.
  • Improved living standard of farmers.
  • Improved GDP of the country.

Disadvantages of Green Revolution

  • Irrigation is essential for growth of HYV crops.
  • HYV crops tend to fail to grow properly in alluvial plains.
  • These are costly and need more inputs in form of fertilizer and irrigation.
  • Overuse of fertilizers lead to pollution in rivers and lakes.
  • HYVs are gradually making pests resistant to fertilizers making them more vulnerable to diseases