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Unit 10 Agriculture

Farming for the Future

[1] Every year, more people face poverty and hunger and more of the earth's resources are ruined. The problems are enormous, but many experts believe that the situation is not hopeless. The solution will require big changes in how we think about agriculture, food, and our planet.

[2] First of all, farmers everywhere need to develop methods that are less destructive to the environment. The change from single crop farming to a mixed crop system would be one important step. The planting of several different crops improves the soil and helps prevent erosion. Erosion could also be prevented by planting trees to protect the fields from the wind. Another way farmers could improve the soil is to avoid deep plowing. In fact, only a slight plowing is necessary if proper methods are used.

[3] If the soil were treated better, farmers would not need to use chemical fertilizers. They could use natural animal and vegetable products instead. With mixed crops, farmers would need fewer toxic chemical insecticides. They could use biological methods of controlling insects and disease.

[4] Farmers could also help save the earth's precious supplies of water and petroleum. To save water, they could plant more water-efficient plants instead of the standard types of wheat or corn. They could also use watering systems that are much less wasteful. To save petroleum, farmers could make use of bio-gas generators which could be fueled by the vegetable and animal wastes of the farms. In less-developed countries, bio-gas generators could reduce the need for firewood and so help save forests, as well.

[5] In less-developed countries, the small farmers need help. They need to learn more about crops that are better suited to local conditions. They need to learn how to limit erosion and make the best use of their resources. These farmers will never be successful without land and economic reform. This should be the aim of governments and international agencies. The current industrial and cash crop policies are only making the situation worse.

[6] Industrialized countries could use their economic resources to help bring about these changes. They could make some changes in their own policies. At present, much food is wasted in these countries for political reasons. In Europe and in North America, tons of fruit and dairy products are thrown away every year. Eating habits, too, could be changed in these countries. For example, people often eat foods from distant places instead of local foods. The transportation of the imported foods adds to the global pollution problem. People in industrialized countries also eat a lot of meat, especially beef.

In fact, a large percentage of the grain grown in these countries is used for feeding cattle. If people in these countries ate less meat, there would be more grain to feed the hungry people of the world.

[7] The ideal agricultural system would be sustainable; that is, its level of productivity could be continued indefinitely and the damage to the environment much less. This is a war which must be won because it would have only winners for both farmers and consumers of farm products.


1 现在面临贫困和饥饿的人一年比一年多,地球资源遭到的破坏也一年比一年严重。这些问题极为严重,不过许多专家认为情况还没有到令人绝望的地步。要解决它们就需要我们对农业、食品和整个地球的看法做出重大改变。

2 首先,世界各地的农民都必须研究开发对环境破坏性较小的耕作模式。重要的一步是把单一作物改为多种作物混合耕种。种植多种作物能改善土壤,有助于防止水土流失。通过植树来保护耕地不受风害也能防止水土流失。农民改善土壤的另一个办法是避免深耕。实际上,如果方法得当,只需浅耕即可。

3 只要土地耕作比较得当,农民就没有必要使用化肥,而可以使用天然的动植物肥料。多种作物混合耕种后,就能少用有毒的化学杀虫剂。农民还可以用生物手段控制病虫害。

4 农民还能帮助节约地球上珍贵的水资源和石油资源。为了节约水,农民可以多种节水型作物以取代常规的小麦和玉米。还可以使用更为节水的灌溉系统。为了节约石油,他们可以利用生物气发电机。生物气发电机的燃料由农场上的蔬菜和动物的垃圾和粪便提供。在欠发达的国家里,生物气发电机能减少对木柴的需求,从而也有助于保护森林。

5 在欠发达的国家里,小农场主们需要帮助。他们需要掌握更能适应当地条件的作物的有关知识。他们需要掌握怎样控制水土流失和最充分利用自己的资源。不进行土地和经济改革,这些农场主永远不会成功。这种改革应该是各国政府和国际机构的目标。目前施行的这些工业和经济作物政策只是把事情弄得更糟。

6 工业化国家可以用他们的经济资源帮助促成这些变化。他们还可以对自己的政策作些改变。目前,这些国家因为政治原因而浪费了很多食品。在欧洲和北美每年都有成吨成吨的水果和奶制品被扔掉。这些国家的饮食习惯也可作些改变。例如,人们常吃那些来自遥远地方的东西,而不吃本地产的。进口食品的运输加重了全球的污染问题。工业化国家的人们还食用大量的肉类,尤其是牛肉。事实上,这些国家所生产的粮食有很大一部分是用来喂牛的。假如这些国家的人们少吃些肉,就会有更多的粮食提供给世界上正在挨饿的人们。

7 理想的农业体系应当是可持续性的,也就是说,其生产力水平能长期保持下去而对环境的破坏却小得多。这是一场必须打胜的战斗,因为无论是对农民还是对农产品消费者而言,这场战斗只有赢者。

Dairying and Dairy Products

[1] When did people begin using milk from animals? Probably about the time they began domesticating animals - some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Meat was certainly the most important food first provided by domesticated animals. But the milk of cattle, goats, sheep, or other animals also became part of people's diets. As agriculture developed, milk and other dairy products, such as butter, cheese, and yogurt, became more and more important in the diet of human beings.

[2] For many thousands of years, a large percentage of the population was engaged in agriculture. Families commonly kept a few goats, cows, or sheep on their farms to provide fresh milk and other dairy products. With the coming of the industrial age, however, fewer and fewer people made their living through agriculture. The production of milk and products made from milk slowly became an industry.

[3] The development of the dairy industry was closely linked with the development of better crops and animals and with a host of technological changes, such as improved transportation, refrigeration and advancements in milk processing. For example, in earlier times, one of the biggest problems was keeping milk fresh so that it would not spoil. Milk used to be kept cool by putting a container in the shade or in cold spring water near the farm or home. Today it is automatically cooled as soon as it is removed from the cow; it is carried long distances in large refrigerated tanks and then processed and packaged for placement in refrigerated showcases in grocery stores. The production of milk in many countries is now a large, scientifically based, highly mechanized industry.

[4] The life of a dairy farmer is usually a rigorous one. Cows must be milked and other chores done seven days a week throughout the year. Hand milking has given way to the use of milking machines, but it must still be done twice a day. Family labor frequently makes up a large part of the labor force, especially on an average-sized farm. The sons and daughters of dairy farmers sometimes learn to put in long days and to carry heavy responsibilities at a young age.

[5] Since the middle of the 20th century, there has been a great decrease in the number of dairy farms in the United States and Canada. In general, however, the farms remaining are large, have highly productive cows, and are managed with great skill. These farms represent the survivors in a very competitive business.

Future Outlook for Dairy Farming

[6] Before the end of the 20th century, a further reduction in the number of dairy farms is likely, as the less competitive farmers are forced to give up dairying [N]. World population, however, is increasing at a rapid rate, and the need for food will obviously increase as well. It is likely, therefore, that milk and milk products will be greatly in demand to help feed a hungry world.

[7] Dairy scientists have learned how to increase greatly the productivity of cows. Dairy farmers should thus be in an excellent position to meet the challenges of the future. Important developments in milk processing and the development of new products mean that dairy foods will be more easily stored, transported, and made available to people the world over.


1 人们是从何时开始使用动物奶的呢?大约是在8,000 到10,000 年以前,从他们开始驯养动物时起。当然肉类是家畜首先提供的最重要的食物。不过牛奶、山羊奶、绵羊奶或其它动物的奶也成为人类食谱的一部分。随着农业的发展,奶和其它乳制品,诸如黄油、奶酪和酸奶,在人类日常饮食中占有越来越重要的地位。

2 几千年来,人口中有很大一部分是从事农业生产的。农户通常都在农场里养一些山羊、牛或绵羊,以提供鲜奶和其它乳制品。然而,随着工业时代的到来,以农业为生的人越来越少。奶和奶制品的生产逐渐变成一种产业。

3 乳品业的发展是与作物和牲畜优良品种的培育有密切的关系,同时还与良好的运输条件、冷藏技术以及先进的奶处理技术等大量的技术革新有密切的关系。例如,早期最大的难题之一就是奶要保持新鲜,使其不会变质。过去,要使牛奶保持低温,通常把盛奶的容器放在农场或农家附近的阴凉处或冰凉的泉水里。现在,牛奶从母牛身上一挤出,就被自动冷却;而且是放在大的冷藏罐里,运到很远的地方,然后进行加工、包装以便放到食品店的冷冻货柜里。目前,在很多国家,牛奶生产已成为规模大、科学性强、高度机械化的产业。乳品场主

4 乳品场主的生活通常是非常艰辛的。一年到头每周七天他们都要挤奶并做其它杂务。尽管机器挤奶已经取代了人工挤奶,但每天依然要挤两次奶。家人常常是主要的劳动力,特别是在中等大小的农场里。这些农户的儿女们在他们还很小的时候,时不时地就要学会长时间工作并承担重任。

5 自二十世纪中叶以来,美国和加拿大的乳品场数量锐减。一般来说,能够挺下来的基本上都是规模庞大,拥有高产母牛,且精于管理的农场。他们代表了这一极富竞争性的行业中的幸存者。乳品生产的前景

6 二十世纪末期,由于一些竞争力不强的乳品场主不得不放弃乳品业,乳品场的数量很有可能继续减少。然而,世界人口数量却迅速上涨,对食物的需求显然会相应增长。因此,对牛奶和奶制品的需求很可能会大大增加,以便养活饥饿的人们。

7 研究乳品业的科学家们已经掌握了大幅度提高奶产量的方法。因此,乳品场主们就会处于非常有利的地位,去面对未来的挑战。牛奶加工技术的重大进展以及新产品的开发意味着奶制品的储存更容易、运输更便利,因而使世界各地的人们都能享受到奶制品。

The History of Agriculture

[1] Nobody knows exactly when or where agriculture began. But scientists now believe that it began 8,000 years ago or more when people discovered that the wild grass seeds that they threw away along with other garbage in waste piles grew well and produced many more seeds to fill people's stomachs. This may seem like a small thing to modern people, but for primitive people it was a truly revolutionary discovery. Up until then they had depended for their lives on their luck in hunting, fishing and finding wild plants that they could eat. Being able to grow a part of their own food meant that starvation was no longer such a danger.

[2] As early people learned about raising crops, they came to depend more and more on farming and less on hunting to keep themselves alive. In addition to wild grasses, from which our present-day grains came, these early people learned to grow many other plants, the early forms of today's vegetables.

[3] Primitive farming methods were very simple. Seeds were planted in little holes in the ground made with a sharp stick. Grain was harvested with stone knives or stone-edged sickles or sometimes pulled up by the roots. The invention of the spade and the hoe made it possible to cultivate the ground by loosening the soil and keeping down weeds. At first the work in the fields may have been done by women, while the men watched the animals, hunted occasionally, and defended the village against its enemies.

[4] Domestic animals were first kept for hunting (such as dogs) or food (such as cows, sheep, and pigs). Eventually animals could be used to carry loads or pull plows which were little more than forked sticks used to loosen the soil. They were inefficient, but they made it possible to cultivate more land with less work than with hand tools.

[5] The Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, American Indians and the Chinese developed advanced systems of agriculture. They knew the value of fertilization, irrigation, and drainage, and they developed improved varieties of plants and animals by choosing the best ones.

[6] Advances were made in 18th-century England where horse-drawn farming

machines, improved systems of crop rotation and fertilization, and better breeds of sheep and cattle were developed.

[7] Meanwhile, Europeans were exploring the New World. They returned home with crops previously unknown in Europe — white and sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkins, and tomatoes. One plant, the potato, was found to grow well in cold, damp climates and on poor soils. It soon became an important food item in northern Europe.

[8] In the 20th century the major advances were in three areas—chemistry, breeding, and technology. Modern farming depends heavily on chemical fertilizers and insect control. Other chemicals control plant diseases and weeds.

[9] One of the biggest research findings has been the development of new strains of wheat and rice. Scientists in every continent have adopted the new types of rice and wheat.

[10] Breakthroughs may soon lead to another big change or “revolution”in agriculture. Scientists are changing living things by altering their genes. Through “gene-splicing”, nature itself can be changed quickly. Food plants may be improved to do a better job of fighting off insects and weeds, with fewer pesticides. Plants may become better able to reproduce themselves each year. Changes in genes can also make grains and other plant foods better. These changes would make farming easier and more productive.

[11] Perhaps the most important effect of the new revolution in genetics is that all people may benefit from it, not just those in highly developed nations. Countries that cannot afford tractors, fertilizers, and other expensive aids to modern agriculture may be able to use these things in a simpler, sustainable agricultural system.

[12] There are still many things to be done. We must find ways to produce our food with fewer chemicals. One way is to find natural biological controls to do the same things chemicals do now. Such “miracles”have happened before, and they have helped agriculture become one of the most progressive, efficient industries in the world.


1 没人确切地知道农业是何时何地开始的。但是现在科学家们认为,它始于八千年以前或更早。当时,人们发现那些与其它垃圾一起被扔在垃圾堆里的野草籽长势很好,结出了更多的籽,可以用来果腹。在现代人眼里,这似乎只是小事一桩,但是对于原始人而言,这确实是革命性的发现。在那以前,他们的生活全凭运气,靠打猎、钓鱼、寻找可食用的野生植物时的运气。能够种植自己所需的一部分粮食,意味着挨饿的威胁已不复存在。

2 随着早期的人们学会了种植庄稼,他们渐渐地越来越依靠农业,而更少地依靠打猎为生。除了种植野草(现今的谷类作物就是由它们演化而来的),他们还学会了种植很多其他植物,也就是今天蔬菜的前身。

3 原始的耕种方法十分简单。用尖尖的木棍在地上戳出小洞,种子就种在这些小洞里。收割谷物用的是石刀或者有刃的石镰刀,有时候将谷物连根拔起。锹和锄头的发明使耕作成为可能,依靠它们来松土和除草。起先,地里的工作也许是由妇女来完成的,而男人们则防备动物的袭击,偶尔打打猎,并且保护村庄使之不受敌人侵犯。

4 最初,饲养家畜是为了打猎(例如养狗)或者用来作为食物(例如养牛、羊和猪)。最终动物能够被用来驮运重物或者拉犁。这种所谓的犁不过是用来松土的分叉的棍子而已,它们效率不高,但比手持工具要省力,而且耕的地要多。

5 埃及人、美索不达米亚人、美洲印第安人和中国人逐渐形成了先进的农业耕种系统。他们知道施肥、灌溉和排水的重要性,并且通过精选良种,培育了动植物的改良品种。

6 十八世纪的英国在农业方面取得了一些进步,发明了马拉的农业机械,形成了先进的庄稼轮作和施肥体系,培育了优良的牛羊品种。

7 此时,欧洲人正探索新大陆。他们带回了以前欧洲不曾有过的庄稼――土豆、白薯、玉米、南瓜和西红柿。人们发现,土豆这种植物非常适宜于潮湿阴冷的气候以及在贫瘠的土壤中生长。很快它就成为北欧的一种主要食物。

8 二十世纪,农业主要在化学、育种和应用技术这三个领域得到了发展。现代农业十分依赖化学肥料和虫害的控制。还有其它一些化学药品来抑制植物疾病和杂草的生长。

9 新的小麦和大米品种的培育是农业上最重要的研究成果之一。各大洲的科学家们都采用了这些新的品种。

10 研究上的突破会很快导致农业的又一个巨大变化或者"革命"。科学家们正通过改变基因来改变生物。通过"基因重组",自然本身会很快被改变。食用作物会得到改良,以便更好地战胜虫害和杂草,还能少用杀虫剂。作物可以年年繁殖得更好。改变基因也可以改良谷类和其他食用作物。这些变化会使耕种更方便,作物更高产。

11 遗传学新革命的最重要影响,也许是所有的人都能从这场革命中获益,而不仅仅是那些来自发达国家的人们。那些用不起拖拉机、肥料和其他现代农业所需的昂贵的辅助设备的国家,能够在一个更为简单而可持续发展的农业体系中利用这些东西。

12 还有很多事情有待于人们去做。我们必须设法使用更少的化学制品来生产食品。方法之一是找到一些天然的生物控制剂,让它们起到现在的化学制品所起的作用。这样的"


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