Unit 10 Agriculture
Farming for the Future
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
Dairying and Dairy Products
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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
 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.
 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。
The History of Agriculture
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.