Agricultural Technology

From the beginning of recorded history to today, technology has impacted people. While many improperly limit the definition of technology to electronics and computers, it is apparent that even the most basic of tools are “technology”. Therefore, it can be said that technology is an “enduring issue”. One specific aspect of technology that endures today is the development of agriculture. From the first hand-planted seed to the first seed drill, agricultural technology has changed the world.

One of the earliest examples of agricultural technology occurred during the change between the Paleolithic and Neolithic ages. During the Paleolithic Age, humans struggled to find sources of food to eat. People were hunters and gatherers, which means that in order to eat, they would need to go out of their comfort space and hunt anything that would help them to survive in the wild. This included things like animals and fungi. Hunting and Gathering evolved to where new tools were created because of the need to kill and survive.

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Paleolithic tool making evolved about 1.4 million years ago. Some techniques for making tools would include just using their hands to strike one stone against another. When many realized they needed new options for weapons, they went towards new types of rocks and what was in that it that would be useful for a more powerful weapon when flint the ideal tool making material, was not available, quartz, quartzite, and other rocks were used. Soon hand axes were commonly used for wood and more ideas started to form into better technology such as bone tools which were better to hunt with because the hardness and sharp angles directly killed the animal (Britannica, 2018)

Although there were developments in hunting, technology during the Paleolithic Age, it was still difficult to find reliable sources of food. Because of this people had to be Nomadic in order to find additional sources of food. This changed during the Neolithic Revolution. The Neolithic Revolution started around 10,000 B.C. in the fertile Crescent, a region of the Middle East where humans first took up farming. Around 9,600 BCE, the Paleolithic Age transitioned into the Neolithic Age (4500 BCE to 3500 BCE). This new way was considered the final stage of using new tools new tools to survive and now people started figuring out how to gather food more easily and by growing food such as planting a simple seed (Britannica, 2018). Therefore, plants started growing rapidly, which increased the production of grains such as wheat and barley. These were some of the first crops grown by Neolithic farming communities in the Fertile Crescent. Over time, a domestic species becomes different from its wild relative. Neolithic farmers selected these certain seeds for crops that were easily harvested. Using this method, farming became more common to do (Britannica, 2018).

These Neolithic technologies had also spread to the Indus River where agriculture had mainly started from small farms and plant production rather than animals during 5000 BCE. This way it would be used for a resource to produce crops and eat. Humans learned to raise crops and the term Neolithic or New Stone Age is most frequently used in connection with agriculture, which is the time when animal domestication was introduced. This was to keep domestic livestock enclosed so they could provide fresh milk, eggs, meat and clothing such as wool to survive (Britannica, 2018). This farming method was used by people and they no longer had to be dependent on hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants. They fended for themselves and followed others which created a civilization and permanent homes/settlements for one another helping with food and learning to create housing for their families. Neolithic cultures made more-useful stone tools by grinding and polishing relatively hard rocks rather than merely chipping softer ones down to the desired shape. By adapting to their surroundings, people had easier ways to navigate and track down outside resources of food. This was key to producing widespread locations for more types of life forms (Violatti, 2018).

One of the main uses of agriculture is farm animals. During the Neolithic Age, many animals were enclosed for its resources. Dates for the domestication of these animals range from between 13,000 to 10,000 years ago. This is where cattle, goats, sheep and pigs were used as a source of food for humans. This mainly evolved in the Fertile Crescent where animals had evolved through time. Domestic pigs were bred from wild boars, while goats came from the Persian ibex. The other animals had evolved later on. These originated in Mesopotamia between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago. Nomads had started expanding land Eastward to have more farming communities which increased food rates and life increased as more people started to realize how to manage crops and food production became more effective and built new and better tools over time (Britannica, 2018)

Although the Neolithic Revolution was the first major example of developments in agricultural technology, it was only the beginning. During the Industrial Revolution, major advancements were made in all facets of technology. The Industrial Revolution started about 1750 and continued through World War I. Nevertheless, advances in agriculture had been slowly increasing in Europe since Medieval Times. The Industrial Revolution was a start to major technology. Nobody would be planting seeds by hand, they would be driving or pushing machinery over the fertile soil and compacting the soil rapidly for results that were never thought possible in the past. New tools, and processes were developed to ensure that less people were needed to grow crops. Machinery slowly was increasing amounts of food for populations. New plows, rakes, and other implements began to be used. The increased availability of farmland was due to a favorable climate which caused improved crop fields (Britannica, 2018)

There were and still are today in the 21st century working equipment for farms, just more advanced and much quicker since new inventors were able to think of a way to buy and grow food. An Englishman, Jethro Tull, invented a machine that planted seeds in neat rows called the horse drawn seed drill. The horse drawn seed drill helped in 1701 as a way to plant more efficiently. This new machine shot seeds into the ground by cutting small holes in the soil, having the seeds in neatly organized rows ready to grow. This brought a new and easier way with much less hassle. Advances in farming were absolutely vital in order for Europeans to maintain and feed a rapidly growing population. By the mid-1800s farm machinery, such as the McCormick Reaper, vastly increased the productivity of every farm worker. Once this invention was created, many were starting to make their own inventions which increased the rate of production. The inventor of the Reaper, Cyrus McCormick, created it in 1831. This machine made harvesting grain much easier and faster than before. For hundreds of years, farmers and field workers had to harvest crops by hand or other methods, which was a hard, time consuming an wasted energy. The McCormick Mechanical Reaper replaced the manual cutting of the crop with scythes and sickles. This new invention allowed wheat and other grains to be harvested quicker with less hassle and labor force. Labor force was used as a main way to get things done quicker which caused pain for children, animals and farm workers (McCormick Reaper, 2019)

The Industrial Revolution has also made an impact for the production of food and the machinery that was built. There had been very poor situations when growing food though, such as the treatment of animals and pesticides towards plants that could have toxic chemicals because inventors at the time might not have known that it could be harmful to the environment. Domestication, the process of enclosing wild animals and plants into one surrounding area to ensure they will not get out and can provide a steady source of food. This refers to being the master of everything that’s secured and controlling what the animals do and eat. Plants are controlled through fences and chemicals, what they should and shouldn’t be producing. The first successful domestication of plants, as well as goats, cattle, and other animals started during the 1800s. It was not until the Neolithic Period, that agriculture had started and led to the improvement of the Industrial Revolution. (Britannica, 2018).

Many animals such as pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, chickens and more were tested on for improvements in food and to produce asexually or sexully new animals through testing machines. Some processes of this has included mixing genetic traits such as seedless watermelons. Many do not know how watermelons don’t have seeds when that’s how the watermelon grows from and the seeds are reused over time. There are some small, almost transparent seeds that are found in the melon. Sometimes, you will find a “true” seed in a seedless variety. Seedless varieties are hybrids and are derived from a fairly complex process. Hybrids, do not breed true from seed. You may end up with a lesser plant with a mix of less desirable traits. In the case of seedless watermelon, the seeds are actually sterile. Sterile is the ability to no longer produce. In this case producing a healthy hybrid plant that’s safe. You have to breed two parent plants to produce the hybrid. This is supposed to be a better outcome (Amy Grant, 2019)

The study of heredity in animals involves topics such as gene expression, color genetics and animal breeding. Animal genetics focuses on the passing of traits from one generation to the next (,2019). Most of the genes tested through history has increased due to scientists and labs. Plant Genetics, Sustainable Agriculture and Global Food Security are all maintained today and has produced a surplus amount of food for the world that was never thought before until the 21st century. Although the food production today is fast and amazing, there are downfalls to fast production. Making sure plants and animals has been given the proper nutrients could affect the consumer consumption of chemicals or poisons that could be harmful. Product recalls have also been made due to lack of knowledge in keeping food safe and still consumable. A product recall is a request from a manufacturer to return a product after the discovery of safety issues or product defects that might endanger the consumer or put the maker/seller at risk of legal action. Recalls are costly for the manufacturer due to lawsuits and if anyone would land in the hospital due to lack of care of food. The United States and the world face serious challenges in the areas of food, environment, energy, and health (PubMed, 2011)

Historically, advances in plant genetics have provided new knowledge and technologies needed to address these challenges. Plant genetics remains a key component of global food security, peace, and prosperity for the foreseeable future. Millions of lives depend upon the extent to which crop genetic improvement can keep pace with the growing global population, changing climate, and shrinking environmental resources. While there is still much to be learned about the biology of plant–environment interactions, the fundamental technologies of plant genetic improvement, including crop genetic engineering, are in place, and are expected to play crucial roles in meeting the chronic demands of global food security (Genetics, 2011) Genetics of today have exceed to amounts that we never thought before. Fertilizers, minerals, and soil content were all factors that started the growth of plants and experiments. New tools and processes were developed to ensure that less people were needed to grow ever increasing amounts of food. New inventions also helped to have a surplus amount of produce available due to science experiments and genetics testing. Farmers have been choosing crops and animals for specific characteristics for thousands of years. But modern agriculture technology has taken over several crops and has breed them to create a brand new species. The development of the hybrid seed, where two or more crop DNA’s are combined to produce a more productive offspring, This has been one of the most productive and effective strategy. Genetic Manipulation has begun to develop molecular techniques that selectively introduce genetic information from one organism to another, and from somewhat non-related organisms, with a goal of creating one specific useful trait (Bookshelf, 2004)

Throughout these time periods, agricultural production has shown many improvements. The examples shown through time was the beginning of farming, seed planting to machinery. The Neolithic age was all about figuring out farming and to produce their own goods rather than going out for it, having their own settlements along with natural resources such as wild animals and wild plants helped them thrive. Going forward centuries, the Industrial Revolution created ways of farming and enclosement for faster food production yet still not understanding how, many of them could get infected. There weren’t many advancements to technology so it was common for something to die or fail. Going forward to present day, our advancements have increased, even to today, faster food production is no problems due to the inventions during the Industrial Revolution with the help of first starting out during the Neolithic Revolution. We have more genetic products today with thousands of chemicals to grow bigger, better, and stronger organisms everyday. Genetics has also improved this by DNA through past experiments to labs today. All three created a world of better ways to farm through time.

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