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On a per capita basis, however, food production rose by only 12 percent in developing nations, and less than 1 percent in developed countries. The history of agriculture may be divided into four broad periods of unequal length, differing widely in date according to region: prehistoric; historic through the Roman period; feudal; and scientific.Early agriculturists were, it is agreed, largely of Neolithic culture.The packing, processing, and marketing of agricultural products are closely related activities also influenced by science.Methods of quick-freezing and dehydration have increased the markets for farm products.
The most important are cereals such as wheat, rice, barley, corn, and rye; sugarcane and sugar beets; meat animals such as sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs or swine; poultry such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys; and such products as milk, cheese, eggs, nuts, and oils.The agricultural plots of Chinese communes and the cooperative farms held by Peruvian communities are other necessarily large agricultural units, as were the collective farms that were owned and operated by state employees in the former Soviet Union. reversed the decline of small farms in New England and Alaska in the decade from 1970 to 1980.Individual subsistence farms or small-family mixed-farm operations are decreasing in number in developed countries but are still numerous in the developing countries of Africa and Asia. Much of the foreign exchange earned by a country may be derived from a single commodity; for example, Sri Lanka depends on tea, Denmark specializes in dairy products, Australia in wool, and New Zealand and Argentina in meat products. S., wheat, corn, and soybeans have become major foreign exchange commodities in recent decades.Genetics has also placed livestock breeding on a scientific basis.Hydroponics, a method of soiless gardening in which plants are grown in chemical nutrient solutions, may solve additional agricultural problems.