The Symbiotic Relationship Between Agriculture and Human Civilization

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Technology is a blessing to humanity, without which, society would crumble and communities lost to starvation. Agriculture has been a part of human civilization since the beginning of time. Being able to cultivate crops and having enough yield to sustain the population was instrumental to how we populated the world. In the beginning, domestication was the most crucial step in creating successful and effective agriculture. Plant domestication included how to sow and harvest crops in order to maximize the yield. 

Farmers and scientists worked together in figuring out how best to domesticate wild plants to suit us best. While scientists are able to work out the optimum requirements such as environment, water, climate, farmers go about it in the most basic manner: keeping the seeds of plants that provided the best fruit or yield. For instance, the seeds from the sweetest mangoes will be kept and perhaps even sold, which propagates the plant further and longer for more generations to come. Conversely, a plant that does badly is often cut down and discarded, removing its opportunity to further propagate. Through artificial selection, undesirable traits are extinguished over time, while the opposite is that plants with promising traits are kept, well cared for and flourish. These are the evolutions that agriculture had to go through, from domestication to coevolution, with science always hot on the industry’s tail in order to further improve the system. 

With the world now at 7.9 billion people, agriculture has to undergo yet another upheaval in order to continue providing for hungry mouths all over the world, making agriculture an uphill battle as the numbers continue to increase. Farmers are also forced to adapt to emerging technology as best they can in order to keep up. 

Vertical farming and grow lights are two of the more popular buzzwords of 2019 as sustainability came into the picture. According to statistics, the world is only able to sustain a maximum population of 10 billion people, but only if everyone became vegan as cattle and livestock takes up more than 33% of agricultural land worldwide. Therefore, in an attempt to capitalize on the remaining land, vertical farming was introduced, a method that is much more sustainable as it uses less land, less water and less fertilizer – plus with the help of grow lights, you can potentially grow crops all year round, even in the dead of winter because you will be growing the crops in a controlled environment. Farmers in South Africa have used this technique to great success, and the practice should see a spike of interest well into 2020 as it is converted into full scale, commercial farming, replacing the traditional farms of yesteryears. 

Another reason why vertical farming is becoming popular is because anyone can start a vertical farm. Regardless of whether you’re living on landed property or in an apartment, which is great for apartment dwellers. They don’t need to sacrifice having a bit of greenery in their lives by moving into apartment buildings. Walls are the new real estate to those with green thumbs. While it is not a new invention, having been introduced as early as 1988, vertical farming has only recently been picked up by the masses purely due to the fact that urban dwellers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the concrete jungle that surrounds them and the rate of disappearing jungles due to logging and the agricultural industry. 

Aside from that, vertical farming has the potential to shorten the supply chain. Instead of flying in product from another part of the country, you could have a farm right next to your grocer. Why not? It’s not as though it takes up a lot of space. Quite the contrary, consumers would be happy to purchase produce fresh from the garden, without having to drive for miles out of the city to a proper, conventional working farm. 

While vertical farming might be the solution to the fact that the world is becoming increasingly smaller and that we have less and less land every day, there is still the question of how technology can further aid agriculture and researchers and inventors come up with new solutions every day: drones to monitor growth, big data analysis, drip irrigation and even mobile applications that can monitor their crops, help with plant identification or troubleshooting on farm devices and technology. Farmers can also ask for advice on forums that are able to help give professional help on how to save their crops or maximize yield. The internet has a wreath of information that everyone should take it upon themselves to study and understand their industry better, especially in a field much like farming where technology is being produced at an unprecedented rate and where there are no one-size-fits-all system, due to land, climate and other factors that can affect one’s farm. 

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