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Logan Scott
Logan Scott

The Science of Farming: Understanding the Biology and Chemistry of Crops and Livestock

If you're new to farming and want to start a farm, start here. The New Farmers website offers a wealth of information and resources on how to start a farm, making a business plan, access to land and capital, risk management, taxes, safety, and more! Or take the shortcut and use the Discovery Tool where you can answer a few questions to get personalized information.


Agriculture started thousands of years ago, but no one knows for sure how old it is.[1] The development of farming gave rise to the Neolithic Revolution as people gave up nomadic hunting and became settlers in cities.

Agriculture and domestication probably started in the Fertile Crescent (the Nile Valley, the Levant and Mesopotamia).[2] The area called Fertile Crescent is now in the countries of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt. Wheat and barley are some of the first crops people grew. People probably started agriculture slowly by planting a few crops, but still gathered many foods from the wild. People may have started farming because the weather and soil began to change. Farming can feed many more people than hunter-gatherers can feed on the same amount of land.

Arable farming means growing crops. This would include wheat or vegetables. Growing fruit means having orchards devoted to fruit. They cannot be switched easily with growing field crops. Therefore, they are not classed as arable land in the statistics.

How to start a small-scale organic farming business

Best practices for sustainable agriculture and soil conservation

Benefits of hydroponic farming systems for urban areas

Challenges and opportunities of vertical farming technology

Tips for choosing the right crops for your climate and soil type

Where to find grants and loans for young farmers and ranchers

How to market your farm products online and offline

Farming equipment and machinery reviews and comparisons

Farm safety tips and regulations for workers and visitors

Farming podcasts and blogs to follow for inspiration and education

How to get involved in community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs

Farming courses and certifications to improve your skills and knowledge

How to deal with pests, diseases, and weeds in organic farming

Farming trends and innovations to watch out for in 2023

How to plan and design a permaculture farm

How to grow mushrooms at home or on your farm

How to raise chickens, ducks, or quails for eggs and meat

How to start a beekeeping business and sell honey and beeswax products

How to make compost and fertilizer from farm waste

How to use drones and sensors for precision farming

How to grow medicinal herbs and plants on your farm

How to create a farm budget and track your expenses and income

How to join or start a farmers' cooperative or association

How to diversify your farm income with agritourism activities

How to reduce water consumption and improve irrigation efficiency on your farm

2023 is a big year for the food and farm systems in the United States. This year the 2018 Farm Bill expires, and a new Farm Bill must be passed. Simultaneously, the annual appropriations process is also underway. As an organization committed to the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems, OFRF is deeply involved in both the farm bill and the appropriations processes. We are working hard to advocate for organics at every turn. This article explains OFRF's policy priorities for the current Farm Bill and Appropriations negotiations processes.

The FST compares three core farming systems: a chemical input-based conventional system, a legume-based organic system, and a manure-based organic system. Corn and soybean production is the focus of each system because 70 percent of U.S. acreage is devoted to growing grain.

The FST team has been gathering a wide variety of data from the research plots for more than 40 years and thoroughly analyzing it using widely accepted scientific standards. The results indicate that organic farming systems match or outperform conventional production in yield, while providing a range of agronomic, economic, and environmental benefits for farmers, consumers, and society.

The Toolkit was created by and for urban farmers and gardeners in collaboration with Design Trust for Public Space and Farming Concrete. This website is the newest component of a multi-year project documenting the impact of urban farming and gardening. To learn more about our past work, visit the History section.

Today the European Commission published the final report of a two-year study on how to set up and implement carbon farming in the EU. Building on this study and on the input from several EU-funded projects and events, the Commission plans to launch the carbon farming initiative by the end of 2021.

Nature-based solutions that remove carbon from the atmosphere can help the EU achieve climate neutrality and should therefore be rewarded. Therefore, as announced in the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Commission will promote carbon farming as a new green business model that creates a new source of income for actors in the bioeconomy, based on the climate benefits they provide. In addition, as announced in the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission will develop a regulatory framework for certifying carbon removals based on robust and transparent carbon accounting to monitor and verify the authenticity of carbon removals. The Commission plans to publish a Communication setting out an action plan for both initiatives by the end of 2021.

Technological developments in agriculture have been influential in driving changes in the farm sector. Innovations in animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment, and farm organization have enabled continuing output growth without adding much to inputs. As a result, even as the amount of land and labor used in farming declined, total farm output nearly tripled between 1948 and 2019.

Median total household income among all farm households ($92,239) exceeded the median total household income for all U.S. households ($70,784) in 2021. Median household income and income from farming increase with farm size and most households earn some income from off-farm employment. About 89 percent of U.S. farms are small, with GCFI less than $350,000; the households operating these farms typically rely on off-farm sources for the majority of their household income. In contrast, the median household operating large-scale farms earned $486,475 in 2021, and most of that came from farming.

Forest farming is the cultivation of high-value crops under the protection of a managed tree canopy. In some parts of the world, this is called multi-story cropping and when used on a small scale in the tropics it is sometimes called home gardening. It is not just recreational harvesting or wild harvesting wild harvesting of native understory wood land plants without management; management is an essential part of forest farming. This approach to crop production intentionally uses both vertical space and the interactions of the plants and microclimate.

Often these woodland crops grown under a canopy are called Non-Timber Forest Products or NTFPs. Crops like ginseng, goldenseal, shiitake or other mushrooms, and decorative ferns are used or sold for medicinal, culinary, and ornamental uses. Forest farming can provide shorter-term income while high-quality trees are being grown for wood or other tree products.

Forest farming is most often used on private lands to supplement family income. Because of the demand and high value of some of these plants they can no longer be found in many places within their historic native range. Wild harvesting of these plants is not allowed on public land in many areas, making forest farming an important option for meeting demand for these plants. Even if the plants of interest are not present in a woodland, the careful inspection of the understory woodland plants may identify other non-economic plants that are often found with these more desirable NTFPs. If so, this may indicate a good location to reintroduce and grow the desired NTFP. Additional benefits of this intensified production is the regular attention in the woods may help to spot and control invasive plants and pests as well as the reduced harvest pressure on wild plant populations that allows them to be reestablished in other woodlands in the region.

Because the alligator hide and meat market is extremely volatile, alligator farming is a very tenuous business. For a primer on what alligator farming involves, read the extension publications below and review the alligator farming regulations, 68A-25.004, 68A-25.031, and 68A-25.052 FAC. Also, the availability of permits to collect wild alligator eggs and hatchlings is limited. Only 30 alligator farmers may be permitted to participate in each of the egg and hatchling programs, and these permits are usually reserved by existing alligator farms.

Surrounded by the history of the valley's early farmers, modern families carry on agricultural traditions, while also introducing their own specialized practices. In order to preserve the valley's pastoral landscape and protect both natural and cultural resources, the National Park Service developed a program called the Countryside Initiative. This program invites farmers to lease land and farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Countryside Initiative program balances the needs of the land and farmer, who must follow strict guidelines for sustainable farm management.The Countryside Initiative program began in 1999 to rehabilitate approximately 20 picturesque old farms that operated in the valley from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. As agriculture disappeared from the valley in the 20th century, these farms fell into disrepair. Through the Countryside Initiative program, the National Park Service celebrates farming and healthy land practices that help both the farmers and land.While farming in a national park is an unconventional idea in America, that is not the case elsewhere in the world. In Great Britain, for example, over 90% of national park land is privately owned. Not only is it considered natural and normal to live within the park boundaries, farming is considered the only practical way to maintain the openness, beauty, and diversity of the countryside.

The Center, formed in 2011 from a working group that began in 2010, played a key role in the creation of the Berkeley Food Institute. The Center focuses on the relationships between biotic and cultural diversity, agricultural sustainability, resilience, social justice, environmental and human health, and governance institutions and policies. In 2012, the Center produced an edited volume for the journal Ecology and Society defining the concept of diversified farming systems and their environmental, social, economic and policy ramifications.

With 10 percent of small farmers exiting farming each year, and a current median farming age of 59, helping new farmers successfully enter and thrive in their businesses is vitally important for the future of U.S. agriculture.

But, beginning farmers face significant hurdles, including attaining knowledge, skills, and experience in production practices; acquiring the fundamental business planning and financial management knowledge and skills; and accessing farmland and capital as part of the substantial investment farming requires.

As the largest sustainable agriculture gathering in Ohio, the annual OEFFA conference is an invaluable opportunity for beginning farmers to attend 50+ workshops on topics ranging from farming techniques to business management, and connect with other farmers. 2b4c41e320


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