The New International Encyclopædia/Agriculture
AG′RICUL′TURE (tilling of land, Lat. agri, gen. of ager, field, + cultura, tilling, cultivation). In a broad sense of the word, the science and art of the production of all plants and animals useful to man. More or less intimately connected with agriculture itself has been the preparation of its products for man's use. Again, the spinning of fibres and the weaving of cloth, the tanning of leather, the making of butter, cheese, wines, cider, vinegar, etc., have been largely done by farmers. Gradually, however, these occupations have been specialized and removed wholly or in part from the farm. Thus, the production of forest trees has been specialized as forestry, and the production of fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants has formed the subject of horticulture. Such occupations as breeding livestock, raising poultry, bee-keeping, and fish culture are also pursued independently of general agriculture. The term agriculture has, therefore, been gradually restricted to the production of a limited group of plants and animals, such as may be brought together on single farms in a system of mixed husbandry. The particular animals and plants included in agriculture in this narrower sense will vary with the region and a variety of circumstances. For example: in some regions the sweet potato is raised in a small way in gardens and is there considered a horticultural plant, while in regions where it is raised in large fields it is considered an agricultural plant. In the present article the term agriculture will be used in a somewhat broad sense, and the sketch will be confined to a brief outline of the historical development of agriculture, general statistics of a few of the more important agricultural products, and references to parts of the more general literature of agriculture. Information regarding particular plants and animals, or special agricultural industries, may be found in other articles in this Encyclopædia.
The Earliest Agriculture. Agriculture began in prehistoric times, when primitive man first began to select particular plants in his immediate environment as preferable to others for his use as food or for making his clothes, and when he first directed his efforts toward promoting the growth of plants. Whether these attempts preceded those to capture and confine animals, with a view to employing them as beasts of burden, or to using their meat, milk, or skins, we do not know. It is, however, clear, that while the migratory habits of savage tribes must have tended to hinder anything like systematic cultivation of the soil, they probably did not prevent the domestication of animals.
The practices of some aboriginal tribes at the present time indicate that efforts to promote the growth of useful plants by the removal of other plants growing among them antedates the planting of seeds. Similar evidence points to the beginning of agricultural implements in the use of pointed and forked sticks to scratch the soil or remove obnoxious vegetation. The union of two such sticks with a leathern thong made a rude mattock or hoe, and a larger implement of the same kind formed the primitive plow, which was drawn, very likely, at first by men and afterward by domesticated animals. The great burden of agricultural labors was in those early ages undoubtedly thrown upon woman, as has been the case among the tribes of North American Indians, whose men have devoted themselves almost exclusively to the chase and to war. It is interesting to observe that severe military requirements still necessitate the employment of women in field labor on the continent of Europe.
Egyptian Agriculture. In tracing the development of agriculture in historical times we naturally turn first to Egypt, the motherland of our civilization. The records preserved on ancient monuments allow us to trace the history of agriculture in Egypt back to at least 3000 B.C. At that early time various animals had already become domesticated, and the growing of crops for man and beast by a regular system of tillage and irrigation had been united with the feeding of large numbers of animals on the ranges. There was, however, no fixed distinction between wild and domesticated animals, and with certain kinds of animals the limits of domestication had not been definitely settled. The land and livestock were very largely the property of the royal, priestly, and military classes; the care of animals and the performance of farming operations were in the hands of hired laborers or slaves. Agriculture was, however, a more honorable occupation than trading or the mechanical arts. Herdsmen and fishermen were in the lowest class; swineherds especially were despised. Cattle, sheep, goats, and swine were kept, often in large herds and flocks. The cattle belonged to the same species as the present cattle of India. Both bulls and cows were used for labor, but the flesh of the males only was eaten. Sheep were kept for both wool and milk (from which cheese was made), but do not appear to have been often used for food. Goats seem to have furnished the principal milk supply of ancient Egypt. Swine were raised in large numbers, though they were considered unclean and were forbidden food except on certain days or for the priests. The donkey and camel were the principal beasts of burden from prehistoric times. The donkey was probably first domesticated by the ancient Egyptians, being taken from the wild asses which came from their home at the headwaters of the Nile. Horses were brought into Egypt about 1900 B.C., when the Shepherd Kings from Asia conquered the country. The stallions only were used for war and for shows. They were kept in stables and fed on straw and barley. Water fowls, especially geese, were abundantly raised. Breeding of animals by selection was customary, as well as branding them for identification. “When the Nile overflowed, animals of all kinds were placed upon artificial raised ground, and fed upon wheat, straw, and leguminous fodder raised for the purpose.”
Crops were grown with the aid of the alluvial deposits annually made by the overflowing Nile and of irrigation to supply the lack of rainfall. Irrigation water was taken from the Nile and distributed through numerous canals and ditches. The water was raised to the top of the river bank by handsweeps such as are often used on farms to-day for raising water from shallow wells, or by means of a vessel held with straps between two laborers, who pulled against each other in lifting the water. In some cases seed was sown after the Nile flood without preparation of the land, and was trodden in by animals. Generally, the plow or the hoe was used. The plow consisted of a wooden plowshare, double handle, and draft pole or beam. “The beam and stilt were fastened together by thongs or by a twisted rope, which kept the share and beam at a proper distance and helped to prevent the former from penetrating too deeply into the earth.” The plow was drawn by two bulls or cows, yoked by the shoulders or attached by the horns. Generally, one man held the plow and another drove the animals, but sometimes one man performed both duties. The hoe was made of wood, and consisted of a rounded or pointed blade attached to a handle by a twisted thong. Other tillage implements sometimes used were the harrow and the roller. The cereals grown were bearded wheat, six-rowed barley, durra (Sorghum vulgare, var.), and millet (Panicum miliaceum). The seed was sown broadcast; the wheat and barley in November, after the subsidence of the Nile flood, and the durra either at that time or in April. Wheat was harvested in March, barley in April, and spring durra in July. “Wheat and barley were headed with a toothed sickle, or cut lower down and bound into sheaves.” The grain was trodden out by donkeys or oxen on earthen thrashing-floors constructed in the open field, where the chaff was fanned out by the wind. Granaries, often built of the Nile mud, were used for storage. Durra was pulled up by the roots, and the seed was removed with a comb-like stripper similar to that sometimes used now for removing broom-corn seed. Flax was raised from prehistoric times for its fibre, from which the clothing of the ancient Egyptians and the wrappings of the mummies were largely made. It is doubtful whether cotton was grown in Egypt in very ancient times, though it seems to have been introduced there from the East previous to the beginning of the Christian era. Lentils, lupines (Lupinus ternis), onions, garlic, and radishes were commonly raised vegetables. The horse bean (Faba vulgaris), chick pea (Cicer arietinum), and chickling vetch (Lathyrus sativus) were also probably raised. For fruits the Egyptians had grapes, olives, figs, pomegranates, and dates. Other cultivated plants were the watermelon and castor-oil plant.
Babylonia. Of Babylonian agriculture there are few records. As in Egypt, it supported a dense population. The Euphrates overflowed, but did not do the work of the Nile. In all the region irrigation turns desert lands into fruitful fields. Of such fields Herodotus said: “This is of all lands with which we are familiar by far the best for growth of corn. When it produces its best it yields even three hundredfold. The blades of wheat and barley grow there to full four fingers in breadth; and though I well know to what a height millet and sesame grow, I shall not mention it, for I am well assured that to those who have never been in the Babylonian country what has been said respecting it's productions will appear incredible.”
Palestine. The Scriptures are full of allusions to the operations of the husbandman in Palestine, as well as in Egypt. The operations in the two countries necessarily formed striking contrasts, the crops in the former being dependent on the rains for growth, in the latter upon the inundations of the Nile. The Hebrews, before their sojourn in Egypt, had been a semi-pastoral people, and they must have learned something of Egyptian agriculture during the years of bondage. Their laws were those of an agricultural people. Land was practically inalienable. Extensive plains of fertile soil yielded the finest wheat. The hill-sides were covered with vines and olives, often planted in terraces formed with much labor to afford a large mass of soil in which the plants might flourish in the almost rainless summer. The valleys were well watered, and afforded pasture for numerous flocks. Of the smaller cultivated plants, millet was the chief summer crop, but it was cultivated to only a limited extent, being confined to those spots that could be artificially watered. Wheat and barley were the chief cereals, as the winter rains were sufficient to bring them to maturity.
Greece. From the Grecian literature covering the period from 1000 B.C. to the conquest of Greece by Rome, 140 B.C., we get comparatively little definite agricultural information. In addition to the animals used in Egypt, mules were grown and used for labor. In winter, animals were housed. Swarms of bees were commonly kept. Wheat and barley were the cereals, and hemp, as well as flax, was raised. The fruits of Egpyt, except the date palm, were grown, and in addition, cherries, plums, almonds, pears, apples, and quinces. The list of vegetables is also lengthened, and includes turnips, beets, cabbage, lettuce, chicory, garden peas, and kidney beans. The common lupine (Lupinus albus) took the place of the species grown in Egypt, and is said to have been used for green manuring. It is asserted that the Greeks introduced the use of manure to promote the growth of crops.
Rome. Roman agriculture has received special attention because so much was written about it by the Romans themselves, and because they carried it into other countries, where it modified or dominated agricultural customs. When Rome was only a colony on the Tiber, land was divided among the citizens in small allotments. There was a domain of public land, which was continually extended by the conquests of neighboring States and the partial confiscations that followed. Although land in the conquered territory was sometimes granted to the poorer citizens, there were large tracts of public lands that were either cultivated or allowed to remain in pasture. The common conditions were that the occupants paid one-tenth of the produce of the corn lands, one-fifth of the produce of vines and fruit trees, and a moderate rate per head for cattle pastured. The occupants were merely tenants at will, and theoretically the state could resume or sell the lands at any time. Yet the right of possession was good against all until the lands had been resumed; and in process of time there came to be families so long in possession that they could not be dispossessed. Only the wealthy had the cattle or slaves that made such occupation possible. The burdens upon these occupiers of the public lands were much less than those upon the small farmers who owned their farms. Thus, at least two classes of cultivators were in existence, the small proprietors and the wealthy tenants holding the lands of the State. An addition to the strife between these two classes was the pressure brought to bear in the interest of the landless. Even after the Romans became masters of all Italy, little more than four acres was assigned to each citizen, and the domain lands increased enormously. Attempts were constantly made to restrict the extent of land that could be occupied by the wealthy, but generally without effect. (See Agrarian Law.) A great deterioration and a consequent agricultural change took place during the century that followed the first Punic War (ended B.C. 241). The place of the small farmer was taken by the planter, who cultivated a great extent of territory, using slave labor. The small proprietors either sold their no longer profitable farms or were driven from them by the large land-holders. In Sicily, the first province, and in the others successively, the ownership of the land was vested in the Roman people. From these provinces came the tribute of grain that made grain-raising unprofitable in Italy. Hence, the large estates were gradually given over to the keeping of flocks and the raising of cattle. Among the Roman writers upon agriculture were Varro, Columella, and Pliny. Earlier than these in time and more celebrated was Cato the Censor (died 149 B.C.), who gives us not only the most minute parliculars regarding the management of the slaves on his large Sabine farm, but also all the details of husbandry, from plowing to the reaping and thrashing of the crop.
Horses, asses, mules, cattle, sheep, and swine were raised by the Roman farmers, and much attention was given to the breeding of animals for special purposes. Castration was customary, and oxen were the principal work animals used on the farm. Mules were extensively used, especially as beasts of burden. The milk of sheep and goats was generally used for drink, and also for making cheese. Columella describes a method of making and preserving cheese, and says that the milk used in cheese-making was curdled in various ways, but commonly with a lamb's or kid's rennet. Poultry culture was an elaborate industry, and included the raising of hens, geese, ducks, teals, pigeons, turtle-doves, swans, and peacocks. Much attention was also given to fish culture, and such animals as hares, snails, and dormice were raised in considerable numbers. Wheat was the most important cereal crop cultivated by the Romans, and both smooth and bearded varieties were raised. Six-rowed and two-rowed barley, too, was grown to a considerable extent. Millet was grown to some extent. Oats and rye were introduced in comparatively late times. Land given to grain was fallowed for the whole of every alternate year. One-third of the fallow was manured and sown with some green crop, as cattle food. Fallow received from four to five furrowings before the wheat was sown in the fall. The crop of wheat ripened about the middle of June, but the summers were too dry for the raising, with certainty, of millet and other summer crops. Alfalfa (lucerne), common vetch (Vicia sativa), chickling vetch, and chick pea were grown for fodder. Hemp, flax, beans, turnips, and lupines also are mentioned as occasionally cultivated. To the list of fruits and vegetables produced in ancient Egypt and Greece the Romans added apricots, peaches, melons, and celery. Meadows were carefully prepared, and rotation of crops was practiced to a certain extent. The soil was thoroughly cultivated with the plow and harrow or the hoe and rake; blind and open drains were used; in some regions irrigation was employed. Manures of different kinds were abundantly used, and various methods for their preservation and distribution were elaborated. Wheat and barley were usually reaped with a sickle, but sometimes they were pulled up by the roots, or the heads were cut off with shears. They were thrashed with flails or with a board studded with iron spikes or sharp flints, which was drawn over the straw, or by trampling with cattle or horses. The Romans carried their agriculture into the ruder countries conquered by them. The vine growing wild in Sicily was carried into Gaul, where it was acclimated with difficulty. To the rude Britons the Romans taught agriculture so successfully that before the period of occupation was over they were exporting large quantities of grain.
The Dark Ages and the Middle Ages. The deterioration of Roman agriculture was accelerated by the overthrow of the Roman Empire. The conquering nations had advanced but little beyond the pastoral stage. During the following period of the Dark Ages the two influences working for the benefit of agriculture in Western Europe were the Saracen in Spain and the religious houses in the other countries. The Saracens irrigated and tilled with untiring industry. They introduced the plants of Asia and Africa; cultivated rice, cotton, and sugar, and covered the rocks of Southern Spain with fruitful vines. In general, throughout Western Europe, land was cheap, and many worthless tracts were given to the Church. In some of the religious orders labor with the hands was imposed upon the members. They studied the works of the Roman writers upon agriculture, and soon had the best cultivated lands in those countries through which their influence extended. Charlemagne encouraged the planting of vineyards and orchards. On the whole, the Crusades helped the agriculture of Western Europe. In the latter part of the Middle Ages the people of the low countries of Western Europe came to be as distinguished for their agriculture as for their commerce and manufactures. They plowed in green crops; the people of Holland developed dairying; the Flemings gained the reputation of being the oldest practical farmers. Also in the plain of Northern Italy, watered by the Po, agriculture was in an advanced condition. A large part of it, of great natural fertility, drew forth the praises of Polybius, who visited it about fifty years after it came into the hands of the Romans. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, under the influence of irrigation, the region became a garden, supporting a large population and exporting grain. In the England of the same period the agriculture showed alternations of indolence and bustle, of feasting and semi-starvation. In August, 1317, wheat was twelve times as high in price as in the following September. Rye was the breadstuff of the peasantry. Little manure was used. Oxen, not horses, were used for teams. In the fourteenth century serfdom disappeared from England, and the tenant farmer became established. “Between 1389 and 1444 the wages of agricultural laborers doubled; harvests were plentiful; beef, mutton, pork became their food; sumptuary laws against extravagance of dress and diet attest their prosperity” (Prothero). Laborers without food could earn a bushel of wheat in two days and a half; of rye in a day and a half.
By the beginning of modern history, the fruitful lands of Western Asia and Southeastern Europe, swept by wars and desolated by conquest, had been placed under the ban of the Turk. The conquest of the Moors in Spain and their subsequent expulsion caused an injury to the agriculture of the peninsula which has not been repaired. The discovery of the New World showed two grades of agriculture carried on by those who had never seen the horse and were practically without domestic animals. Even the careful tillage of the ancient Peruvian had no influence upon Europe and little upon the America of succeeding centuries. The great contribution of America to the world's agriculture was the three plants, the potato, tobacco, and Indian corn or maize. In the region north of Mexico the labor of planting and caring for the scanty crops was performed by the women, who broke the ground with the rudest possible implements.
England. In the sixteenth century agriculture in England became more profitable, inclosures were made, and the rights of common were greatly restricted. Hops were introduced from Holland. Turned from the former wool exportation, the farmers began to raise wheat in large quantities to be sent out of the country. A law in the middle of the century practically prevented grain exportation and turned wheat lands into pasturage. The resulting high price of food and the destitution on the part of laborers brought another reaction, and a replowing of grazing lands. The sixteenth century saw the end of the villeinage. In 1595, laborers without food during the summer months worked six days for a bushel of wheat, four days for a bushel of rye, and three and one-half days for a bushel of barley. Gardening, greatly neglected in the first part of the seventeenth century, received due attention in the latter part. Deep drainage, too, began to be talked about. From the middle of the seventeenth century to the nineteenth, England looked to Flanders for the perfection of careful tillage. From the Flanders of the seventeenth century Sir Richard Weston brought turnips and red clover, and Arthur Young afterward called him a greater benefactor than Newton. By the end of the century turnips and clover were extensively cultivated in alternation with wheat. The cultivation of grasses was begun in this century with the introduction of perennial rye grass. White clover was introduced in 1700, and timothy and orchard grass came to England from America about 1760. The eighteenth century saw revolutions in English farming. One came when Lord Townsend established the Norfolk system. Under this system of first, wheat; second, turnips; third, barley; fourth, clover and grass, one-half of the land was constantly under grain crops and the other under cattle-grazing. Large numbers of sheep and cattle were fattened on the turnips, and the consumption of roots on the land increased the yield of the barley. The Norfolk system was a success from the beginning. The rental of certain farms increased fivefold, and farmers in special cases made handsome fortunes. Susceptible of many modifications, it has had much to do with the improved agriculture of England. Beans, peas, and vetches were generally grown, often in mixtures with wheat or oats. Hemp was grown for rope-making. The common vegetables were onions, leeks, mustard, and peas, and the fruits were apples, grapes, and plums.
Another revolution came from the breeding experiments of Bakewell, commenced in 1750. To mention a single point, it had taken three or four years to prepare sheep for the market; those bred by Bakewell were prepared for the market in two years. Besides making a reputation and a fortune for himself, he made for others a way since followed in breeding. Jethro Tull, whose book on Horse-hoeing Husbandry appeared in 1731, was almost in touch with the methods of the nineteenth century. His theory was that seeds should be sowed in drills, and the spaces between the drills kept thoroughly cultivated. He invented a drill and a horse-hoe. He did not succeed in obtaining a large crop, but successful modifications of the method have since been made.
North America. The white colonists of North America had much to discourage them as agriculturists; in New England they had the additional drawbacks of long winters and a rocky soil. The colonists in Virginia found both Indian corn and tobacco, the latter fitted to become an article of export. The New England settlers brought with them English modes of farming. From the Indians they learned how to raise corn (maize), breaking the soil with a hoe and manuring with fish. Corn was the great product to be depended upon, although other grains were cultivated, and cattle and sheep increased slowly, fed first upon the native grass, then upon timothy specially fitted for New England soil.
Potatoes began to be raised in the first part of the eighteenth century. The southern colonists, more favored by nature, made less actual progress than those of the North. Even as late as 1790, as we learn from McMaster's History of the American People, little progress was made. In New England and New York, as well as farther south, barns were small, implements rude, and carts more common than wagons. In Georgia the hoe was more often used than the plow; in Virginia the poor whites thrashed their grain by driving their horses over it. Throughout the South it was the common practice to grow crops without rotation, and in general manure was thrown away. A little later came the invention of the cotton gin and the beginning of the reign of cotton, with a demand for fresh fields and a disregard of careful tillage. Early in the century the importation of the Spanish merino sheep changed the farming of the North and greatly increased the production of wool.
The Nineteenth Century. In the nineteenth century the progress of agriculture was profoundly affected by great general causes, some of which exerted a world-wide influence. Among these were: (1) the application of science to the improvement of agriculture; (2) the revolution in transportation methods through the use of steam power on land and sea; (3) the rapid opening of vast areas of new land in North and South America, Australia, and Africa to settlement, cultivation, and grazing; (4) the invention and extensive use of labor-saving machinery as applied to agriculture; (5) the abolition of serfdom and slavery; (6) the specialization of agricultural industries; (7) the organization of the distribution of agricultural products and their use in manufactures in accordance with the modern business principles governing the organization of other great industries; (8) the establishment of governmental agencies for the promotion of agriculture; (9) the voluntary coöperation of farmers through numerous associations; and (10) the wide dissemination of agricultural information through books, journals, public documents, and farmers' meetings. Scientific studies and experiments for the benefit of agriculture began with the development of agricultural chemistry early in the century. The most widespread practical result of the investigations in agricultural chemistry has been the extensive use of a large number of forms of commercial fertilizers. In more recent years a wide range of successful research on behalf of agriculture has been developed with the aid of the biological sciences, and in the closing years of the nineteenth century investigations in agricultural physics assumed great importance. The marvelous success of scientific effort, largely under government patronage, as applied to dairying and the sugar-beet industry, is one of the notable achievements of that century. Organized scientific research for the benefit of agriculture through experiment stations and kindred institutions has become a regular and permanent agency for the advancement of this art. See Agricultural Experiment Station; and Agriculture, Department of.
The vital interest of the whole community in the success of agriculture as the great basal industry has been distinctly recognized during the nineteenth century by the widespread establishment of governmental agencies for its promotion. Agriculture has now a definite place in the ministries of almost all the civilized nations of the globe. In Great Britain the government fosters agricultural interests through a Board of Agriculture (q.v.). In the United States the Federal Government maintains a Department of Agriculture (q.v.), whose chief officer has had a seat in the President's Cabinet since 1889 as the Secretary of Agriculture. Many of the States, too, have departments, boards, or commissioners of agriculture.
Agricultural Machinery. One of the features of the agricultural history of the past fifty years has been the extensive introduction of machinery. Sowing machines, cultivators, and all the machines that displace the hoe are of comparatively recent invention. As early as 33 A.D., according to Pliny, the Gauls used a cart with projections in front which cut or tore off the heads of grain; but until recent times little effort was made to invent or introduce labor-saving machinery, owing to popular prejudice. The thrashing machine was not invented until 1786, and though an attempt was made early in the century to construct reaping machines, but small success was won until the time of Bell, Hussey, and McCormick. (See Reapers, Reaping.) In the hay harvest, horse power is applied by means of the mowing-machine, the hay-tedder, the rake, and machines for loading and unloading the hay. Another class of machines, as, for example, the one for threshing, deal with the gathered crops. The use of a system of machinery like that applied to dairying has made great changes in certain lines of agriculture. From horse power, too, there has been a partial change to steam power. About the year 1850 the steam plow began to be used in England. One special advantage in the minds of English farmers was the depth to which the soil could be turned; moreover, the engine was utilized for many purposes on the large estates of that country. The great advantage of steam farm machinery in America has been for operations like that of threshing, but the use of steam for this purpose has not proved especially economical. Improved farm machinery in America has made possible the rapid settling of the new States and the successful gathering of their immense harvests. See Harvest and Harvesting; Implements, Agricultural; Threshing and Threshing Machines; Plow, Plowing. In an article on the progress of agriculture in the United States, Mr. G. K. Holmes, of the Department of Agriculture, states that “the amount of human labor now (1896) required to produce a bushel of wheat from beginning to end is on an average only ten minutes, whereas in 1830 the time was three hours and three minutes. During the interval between these years the cost of the human labor required to produce this bushel of wheat declined from 17¾ cents to 3⅓ cents. In the contrast thus presented the heavy, clumsy plow of the day was used in 1830; the seed was sown by hand and was harrowed into the ground by the drawing of bushes over it; the grain was cut with sickles, hauled to a barn, and some time before the following spring was thrashed with flails; the winnowing was done with a sheet attached to rods, on which the grain was placed with a shovel and then tossed up and down by two men until the wind had blown out the chaff. In the latter year, on the contrary, the ground was plowed and pulverized with the same operation by a disk plow; the seed was sown with a mechanical seeder drawn by horses; the reaping, thrashing, and sacking of the wheat were done with the combined reaper and thrasher drawn by horses, and then the wheat was ready to haul to the granary.”
System in Farming. There is a movement in agriculture to provide for local demands, to take advantage of growing centres of population, to strive for excellence and exact system in place of haphazard methods. The evaporator has broadened the fruit market. The canning industry has utilized fruits and vegetables and saved the agricultural balances in sections. Cold storage, rapid transportation, and the refrigerator car have reduced risks and shortened apparent distances. New Zealand is in the markets of London. Canada and the United States have a profitable apple trade with England. The expenses of transportation have been reduced to a fraction of the previous cost, and thus the wheat lands of Dakota have been laid alongside those of both New England and old England, with gain for the one and with loss for the others. In dairying there has been one of the triumphs of recent agriculture. Specialization, with scientific method and improved machinery, has brought excellence without destruction of the market. Dairy products, in contrast with others, are higher than they were fifty years ago. Carried on largely as coöperative undertakings, creameries and cheese factories (see Dairying) have increased in Europe and America. A large industry in England, dairying on the coöperative basis has been on the increase in France. The Netherlands, famous for its careful agriculture, is a leading dairy country. Switzerland and Canada export large quantities of cheese. Denmark no longer competes for the wheat trade, but has become one of the most successful of dairy countries, exporting immense quantities of high grade butter to England.
America in Recent Times. The past fifty years have been a period of careful cultivation, though with many exceptions, in America. Thorough drainage and deep plowing, established in England, have been also made American. A great variety of commercial fertilizers are widely used. In the United States alone it is estimated that about 2,000,000 tons of such fertilizers are annually consumed. The storing of green crops in silos has become common. A great amount of intelligent work has been given to securing plants and trees suited to local conditions in different climates. Numerous varieties of all sorts of cultivated plants have been obtained through selection and otherwise, and in this way the areas devoted to different crops have been greatly extended. In the vicinity of the large cities market gardening has been a profitable branch of agriculture, and has been the culmination of careful cultivation. Somewhat similar to it has been an industry which has developed in the United States under the name of “truck farming,” and is carried on in places remote from markets. A large part of the vegetables consumed in the large American cities come from places from 500 to 1500 miles distant. According to a census bulletin, issued in 1891, in the United States, upward of $100,000,000 of capital is invested in this industry; 500,000 acres are given to it, more than 230,000 persons are employed, and the annual return is $76,000,000. The South Atlantic States are largely interested in “truck farming,” which, under favorable conditions, is generally very profitable. Other forms of special agricultural industries which have made great progress in recent years are the breeding of animals, fruit culture, poultry raising, and bee-keeping.
Cottonseed, formerly considered very largely a waste product, is now utilized in a variety of forms, and adds largely to the value of the cotton crop. Not only large quantities of oil are made from this seed, but also oil cake and meal for feeding stuffs and fertilizers. Even the hulls of cotton are used for fertilizers, cattle food, fuel, and paper-making.
In speaking of the agriculture of the United States, besides branches touched upon, reference should be made to tobacco, which is grown widely; to the sugar-cane, grown chiefly on the alluvial lands of the Mississippi; to rice, grown profitably in the lowlands of certain Southern States; to the tropical and sub-tropical products of Florida and California, and to the immense flocks and herds of the “ranches” in the mountain region and on the great plains of the western half of the continent.
In the West, since 1880, irrigation has been employed on a large scale in an attempt to reclaim land within the arid belt, a region extending from the centre of Kansas and Nebraska to the farthermost Pacific Coast range of mountains. In that region of scanty rainfall, irrigation may be practiced by taking a water supply from the large streams flowing from the mountains. Within a small area, water may be obtained from the “underflow” by means of artesian wells. Although the results of surveys show that only a comparatively small part of the belt can be irrigated, in certain localities thousands of acres are being made profitable. In two valleys of Arizona (the Salt and the Gila) more than 450 miles of irrigating ditches were opened in the ten years 1880-90. In the single county of San Bernardino, Cal., irrigation increased the number of acres under cultivation from 18,400 in 1880 to 144,950 in 1890. See Irrigation; Artesian Well.
Other Countries. In Europe the cultivation of the sugar-beet has become a prominent industry in Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, and Russia, and of some importance in Belgium and the Netherlands. Germany grows more than one-third of the product, and the four countries more than nine-tenths of it. The vine is of importance in all the Mediterranean region and in favored localities like those along the German Rhine, where vineyards have given an average net return of more than $100 per acre. Italy gives to the vine 9,000,000 acres, and France, with lowest acreage in 1891, and larger before and since, gives on an average 5,000,000 acres. France, also dating its progress from the Revolution, has become one of the richest of agricultural countries, and previous to 1874 was the greatest wheat producing country of the world. It is noted for its small farms and thrifty agricultural class, more than half of whom are land owners. Germany, the greatest potato-producing country of the world, is also a country of varied agricultural production. Austria-Hungary, only about half a century from serfdom, has a government that fosters agriculture, and presents the sharp contrasts illustrated by the steam cultivator on large estates and the wooden plow on small farms. Russia, only thirty years from serfdom, shows agricultural methods in sharp contrast with an immense agricultural production.
The garden of Italy is the Lombard plain, with its more than 1,000,000 acres of irrigated land and its careful systems of cultivation. Besides large crops of wheat, maize, grapes, and olives, Italy produces great quantities of lemons and oranges, and has more than half a million people engaged in raising silkworms. In Spain, despite vines, oranges, olives, and the possibilities of irrigation and a succession of crops, agriculture looks backward to the time of the Moor.
China, with an agriculture unchanged from legendary times, and India are countries in which rude implements are overbalanced by irrigation and garden-like cultivation. With rice as a principal food product, they support a dense population, have a great variety of crops, and are increasing factors in computing the world's supply.
Egypt, under the guidance of England, is producing great amounts of sugar and a high grade cotton.
Australasia has already developed beyond the pastoral stage, and besides cattle and sheep is exporting dairy and other products. In South America, the Argentine Republic is an important factor in the world's agricultural market, with its wheat, wool, cattle, and wine; and Brazil holds a leading place in the production of coffee. In Central America, including Mexico, the raising of cattle and sheep has become a large industry, and the exports of coffee, cocoa, and bananas are important. The West Indies and the Hawaiian Islands produce large quantities of cane sugar.
The following table, prepared under the direction of Mr. John Hyde, statistician of the United States Department of Agriculture, shows the amount of the principal agricultural products of different countries for the year 1900. Although these returns are not complete for all the countries, they furnish interesting data regarding the relative agricultural production of different regions. Of the world's wheat crop of about 2613 million bushels, the United States produces nearly one-fifth. The other chief wheat growing countries are Russia, France, Austria-Hungary, India, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Argentine Republic. The United States produces three-fourths of the world's maize crop of 2825 million bushels, and more than one-half of the crop of 753.3 million pounds of cotton. Russia leads the world in the piodnotion of rye, oats, and barley, and in the yield of potatoes it is surpassed by Germany only. Australia, the Argentine Republic, Russia, and the United States are the chief wool growing countries. Outside of the United States most of the cotton is grown in India, China, and Egypt. Tobacco is an important crop in Austria-Hungary, Mexico, Japan, Germany, and France.
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS OF THE WORLD, 1900.
|Million Bushels.||Million Pounds.|
|Cape of Good Hope||2||3||....||1||2||1||....||....||100|
|Central Asia ()||7||....||1||3||6||1||....||....||46|
|Cyprus and Malta||2||....||....||....||....||....||....||....||....|
|Norway and Sweden||6||....||27||18||80||94||....||2||8|
Bibliography. Only a few works on agriculture have come down to us from ancient literature. Among these the most important are: Hesiod, Works and Days; Cato, De Re Rustica; Varro, Rerum Rusticarum, Libri III.: Vergil, Georgics; Pliny, Natural History; Palladius, De Re Rustica. The modern literature begins with P. Crescenzi, a Bolognese, who at the beginning of the fourteenth century wrote his Ruralium Commodorum, Libri XII. The first English book on agriculture is Sir Anthony Fitzherbert's The Boke of Husbandrie (London, 1523). Between that time and the year 1800 some 200 British authors wrote on agricultural topics. Among their works are Tusser, Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry, etc. (1573); J. Mortimer, The Whole Art of Husbandry (London, 1807); J. Tull, Horse-hoeing Husbandry (London, 1829); A. Young, Annals of Agriculture (London, 1813). In the United States few books on agriculture were published prior to 1800. Among these may be mentioned J. Eliot, Agricultural Essays, (Boston, 1760); S. Deane, New England Farmer, or Georgical Dictionary (Portland, 1797); B. Vaughan, Rural Socrates (Hallowell, 1800). During the nineteenth century the number of English and American works on agriculture greatly increased, and not only did the general treatises become more thorough and scientific, but also a large amount of valuable literature on special subjects was published. Only a few books of more seneral importance will be mentioned here: J. C. Loudon, Eneyclopædia of Agriculture (London, 1825); J. C. Morton, A Cyclopædia of Agriculture (London, 1850-52); Handbook of the Farm (London, 1868); J. Periam, The American Encyclopædia of Agriculture (Chicago, 1881); L. H. Bailey, Rural Science Series (New York, 1895-1901); Bailey and Miller, Encyclopædia of American Horticulture, 4 volumes (New York, 1900-02); J. E. T. Rogers, History of Agriculture and Prices in England (Oxford, 1882); R. E. Prothero, The Pioneers and Progress of English Farming (London, 1880); H. Stephens, Book of the Farm (London, 1855); R. Wallace, Farm Live Stock of Great Britain (Edinburgh, 1885); India in 1887 (London, 1888); Farming Industries of Cape Colony (London, 1890); The Rural Economy and Agriculture of Australia and West Zealand (London, 1891); E. B. Voorhees, First Principles of Aqriculture (Boston, 1896); Fertilizers (New York, 1898); L. H. Bailey, The Principles of Agriculture (New York, 1898); W. P. Brooks, Agriculture (Springfield, Mass., 1901). Manures: J. Harris, Talks on Manures (New York, 1878); C. M. Aikman, Manures and the Principles of Manuring (London, 1899); F. W. Sempers, Manures: How to Make and How to Use Them (Philadelphia, 1893). Chemistry of Agriculture: F. H. Storer, Agriculture in Some of its Relations to Chemistry (New York, 1897). Farm Crops and Soils: F. H. King, The Soil, Rural Science Series (New York, 1895); W. Fream, Rothamsted Experiments in Wheat, Barley, and Grass Lands (London, 1888); J. P. Roberts, On the Fertility of the Land, Rural Science Series (New York, 1897); S. W. Johnson, How Crops Grow (New York, 1868; London, 1869); How Crops Feed (New York, 1870). Stock Breeding: M. Miles, Stock Breeding (New York, 1878). Feeding of Animals: H. Stewart, Shepherd's Manual (New York, 1878); H. P. Armsby, Manual of Cattle Feeding (New York, 1890); W. A. Henry, Feeds and Feeding (Madison, Wis., 1898); J. H. Jordon, The Feeding of Animals (New York and London, 1901). Dairying: H. Wing, Milk and Its Products, Rural Science Series (New York, 1895): J. W. Decker, Cheese Making (Columbus, Ohio, 1900). Drainage: F. H. King, Irrigation and Drainage, Rural Science Series (New York, 1899); Physics of Agriculture (Madison, Wis., 1901); M. Miles, Land Drainage (New York, 1897); G. E. Waring, Jr., The Report of the Massachusetts Drainage Commission (Newport, R. I., 1886); Sewerage and Land Drainage (New York, 1889); Draining for Profit and Draining for Health (New York, 1867). History of Agriculture: G. Rawlinson, Ancient Egypt (London, 1887); C. G. B. Daubeny, Lectures on Roman Husbandry (Oxford, 1857); C. W. Hoskyns, Short Inquiry into the History of Agriculture (London, 1849); R. C. Flint, One Hundred Years' Progress, Report Department of Agriculture. (Washington, 1872). For further information, the publications of the State boards of agriculture, agricultural experiment stations, and the reports of the United States Department of Agriculture, especially the Experiment Station Record, Farmers’ Bulletins, and Year-books.
In the United States, the British Empire, and most of the countries of Europe, numerous agricultural journals are published. Among the most important are the following: The United States. The American Agriculturist (New York); The American Garden (New York); Breeder's Gazette (Chicago); The Cultivator and Country Gentleman (Albany); The Florida Agriculturist (Deland, Fla.); Hoard's Dairyman (Fort Atkinson, Wis.); Experiment Station Record (Washington); Pacific Rural Press (San Francisco); Rural New Yorker (New York); Southern Planter (Richmond, Va.); Wallaces' Farmer (Des Moines, Ia.). Great Britain. The Agricultural Gazette (London); Farmer's Gazette (Dublin); Field, Farm, and Garden (London); Farm and Home (London); Gardeners' Chronicle (London). Canada. Journal of Agriculture and Horticulture (Montreal); Canadian Horticulturist (Toronto). France. Journal d'Agriculture Pratique (Paris); La Semaine Agricole (Paris); Revue Horticole (Marseilles). Germany. Deutsche Landwirtschaftliche Presse (Berlin); Fühling's Landwirtschaftliche Zeitung (Leipzig); Mölkerei-Zeitung (Hildesheim). Ausria. Österreichisches Landwirtschaftliches Wochenblatt (Vienna). Italy. Bolletino di Notizie Agrarie (Rome). Denmark. Landmands Blade (Copenhagen); Australia. Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales (Sydney); Queensland Agricultural Journal (Brisbane); Journal of Agriculture and Industry of South Australia (Adelaide).
- Report of S. N. D. North, Secretary of National Association of Wool Manufacturers, 1900.
- Includes Natal and Orange Free State.
- No data.
- Census, 1891.
- No estimate.
- Washed and unwashed.
- In Russia.
- Includes Balkan Peninsula.