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The set of economic and political relationships that organize food production for commercial purposes


The art and science of producing food from the land and tending livestock for the purpose of human consumption

Animal Husbandry

An agricultural activity associated with the raising of domesticated animals, such as cattle, horses, sheep, and goats


A form of technology that uses living organisms, usually genes, to modify products, to make or modify animals and plants, or to develop other microorganisms for specific purpose

Capital-Intensive Agriculture

Form of agriculture that uses mechanical goods such as machinery, tools, vehicles, and facilities to produce large amounts of agricultural goods-a process requiring very little human labor

Commercial Agriculture Economy

All agricultural activity generated for the purpose of selling, not necessarily for local consumption


An agricultural activity involving the raising of livestock, mostly commonly cows and goats, for dairy products such as milk, cheese, and butter


The process by which formerly fertile lands become increasingly arid, unproductive, and desert-like


The conscious manipulation of plant and animal species by humans in order to sustain themselves

Extensive Agriculture

An agricultural system characterized by low inputs of labor per unit land area


Places where livestock are concentrated in very small area and raised on hormones and hearty grains that prepare them for slaughter at a much more rapid rate than grazing; often referred to factory farms

Fertile Crescent

Area located in the crescent-shaped zone near the southeastern Mediterranean coast (including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey), which was once a lush environment and of the first hearths of domestication and thus agricultural activity

Genetically Modified Foods

Foods that are mostly products of organisms that have had their genes altered in a laboratory for specific purposes, such as disease resistance, increased productivity, or nutritional value allowing growers greater control, predictability, and efficiency

Green Revolution

The development of higher-yield and fast-growing crops through increased technology, pesticides, and fertilizers transferred from the developed to developing world to alleviate the problem of food supply in those regions of the globe

Hunting and Gathering

The killing of wild animals and fish as well as the gathering of fruits, roots, nuts, and other plants for sustenance

Industrial Revolution

The rapid economic changes that occurred in agriculture and manufacturing in England in the late 18th century and that rapidly spread to other parts of the developed world

Intensive Cultivation

Any kind of agriculture activity that involves effective and efficient use of labor on small plots of land to maximize crop yield

Labor-Intensive Agriculture

Type of agriculture that requires large levels of manual labor to be successful

Livestock Ranching

An extensive commercial agricultural activity that involves the raising of livestock over vast geographic spaces typically located in semi-arid climates like the American West


In agriculture, the replacement of human labor with technology or machines

Mediterranean Agriculture

In agriculture system practiced in the Mediterranean-style climates of Western Europe, California, and portions of China and Australia, in which diverse specialty crops such as grapes, avocados, olives, and a handful of nuts, fruits, and vegetables compromise profitable agricultural operations


A type of agricultural activity based on nomadic animal husbandry or the raising of livestock to provide food, clothing, and shelter


Chemicals used on plants that do not harm the plants, but kill pests and have negative repercussions on other species who ingest the chemicals

Planned Agricultural Economy

An agricultural economy found in communist nations in which the government controls both agricultural production and distribution


A large, frequently foreign-owned piece of agricultural land devoted to the production of a single export crop


Process that occurs when soils in arid areas are brought under cultivation through irrigation

Shifting Cultivation

The use of tropical forest clearing for crop production until their fertility is lost

Slash-and-Burn Agriculture

System of cultivation that usually exists in tropical areas where vegetation is cut close to the ground and then ignited

Specialist Crops

Crops including items like peanuts and pineapples, which are produced, usually in developing countries, for export

Subsistence Agricultural Economy

Any farm economy in which most crops are grown for nearly exclusive family or local consumption


Land that is prepared for agriculture by using the slash-and-burn method

Topsoil Loss

Loss of the top fertile layer of top soil is lost through erosion


The movements of livestock according to seasonal patterns, generally lowland areas in the winter, and highland areas in the summer

Urban Sprawl

The process of urban areas expanding outwards, usually in the form of suburbs, and developing over fertile agricultural land

Von Thunen Model

An agricultural model that spatially describes agricultural activities in terms of rent

Organic agriculture

approach to farming and ranching that avoids the use of herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, and other similar synthetic inputs

Primary economic activity

economic activity concerned with the direct extraction of natural resources from the environment; such as mining, fishing, lumbering, and especially agriculture

Secondary economic activity

economic activity involving the processing of raw materials and their transformation into finished industrial products; the manufacturing sector

Tertiary economic activity

economic activity associated with the provision fo services (transportation, banking, retailing, education, routine, office-based jobs)

Quaternary economic activity

service sector industires concerned with the collection, processing, and manipuation of information and capital (finance, administration, insurance, legal services)

Quinary economic activity

service sector industries that require a high level of specialized knowledge skill (scientific research, high-level management)

Root crops

crops that are reproduced by cultivating either the roots or cuttings from the plants

Seed crops

crop that is reproduced by cultivating the seeds of the plants

First Agricultural Revolution

Dating back 10,000 years, the First Agricultural Revolution achieved plant domestication and animal domestication

Second Agricultural Revolution

dovetailing with and benefiting from the Industrial Revolution, improved methods of cultivation, harvesting, and storage of farm produce

Third Agricultural Revolution

Currently in progress, the Third Agricultural Revolution has as its principal orientation the development of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)

Rectangular survey system

Also called the Public Land Survey, the system was used by the US Land Office Survey to parcel land west of the Appalachian Mountains. The system divides land into a series of rectangular parcels.

Township and range system

A rectangular land division scheme designed by Thomas Jefferson to disperse settlers evenly across farmlands of the U.S. interior.

Metes and bounds system

A system of land surveying east of the Appalachian Mountains. It is a system that relies on descriptions of land ownership and natural features such as streams or trees. Because of the imprecise nature of metes and bounds surveying, the U.S. Land Office Survey abandoned the technique in favor of the rectangular survey system.

Longlot survey system

distinct regional approach to land surveying found in the Canadian Maritimes, parts of Quebec, Louisiana, and Texas whereby land is divided into narrow parcels stretching back from rivers, roads, or canals


system where the eldest son in a family, or in exceptional cases, a daughter inherits all of the parent's land


dependence on a single agricultural commodity

Koppen climatic classification system

Developed by Wladimir Koppen, a system for classifying the world's climates on the basis of temperature and precipitatiion

Climatic regions

Areas of the world with similar climatic characteristics

Luxury crops

Non-subsistence crops such as tea, cacao, coffee, and tobacco

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