Agriculture is most commonly defined as the science of cultivating both plants and livestock, and is by far the most important human invention to have ever been conceived. The shift in human culture from hunter-gatherer tribal life, to the sedentary lifestyle we all enjoy today was only made possible because of the development of agriculture and farming. By learning how to domesticate animals and farm crops, for the first time human beings were able to obtain a surplus of food supplies, leading to the development of larger settlements called cities. Agriculture lies at the very heart of what separates humanity from any other species on the planet. It is estimated that while wild grains have been being collected for more than one hundred thousand years, the process of farming crops began only about fifteen thousand years ago. It is around this same time period that the domestication of animals was first conceived of as well. Both the farming of crops and animal domestication have evolved over the years, as our understanding of the natural world has improved and expanded.
Techniques like crop rotation and irrigation have increased the amount of food being produced over the years, leading eventually to the most modern forms of agriculture. Today, factory farming and the widespread use of fertilizers and pesticides has led to another large increase in the amount of food being produced, as our scientific advancements have again changed the way we approach every aspect of our lives. How we approach farming and agriculture is changing yet again today, and evolving into something new once more.
Over the next fifty years, the world’s population is expected to begin to approach almost ten billion people, and as a result food production is going to need to increase by about seventy percent in order to meet the increasing demand of this larger population. Another factor contributing to this increasing demand is an increase in global income. The demand for meat products is most likely going to rise sharply as a result of this increase in income. One change that experts expect will take place as well, is going to be a significant shift from a focus on producing grains and starch to producing soybeans and other legumes. Today, the average age of farmers is higher than it has ever been previously. As this older population of farmers begins to die off, there will be far fewer young farmers to take their places leading to a significant consolidation in agricultural production. Another significant change will be a noticeable increase in automation throughout the agricultural system. While there has already been a movement towards increased mechanization in all aspects of farming and food production, the rate at which this is taking place will soon increase drastically. With this increase in automation, the proliferation of genetically modified organisms, and a focus on more sustainable agricultural practices, the farm of tomorrow will likely be a significant departure from what we see today.