FARMING PRACTICES IN THE UNITED STATES
Agriculture is the backbone of every country and all nations depend on agriculture for their daily nutrition. The United States is a major exporter of food. Agriculture is predominantly focused in the Great Plains and the Corn Belt. The Great Plains is the area in the central parts and the Corn Belt is the area around the Great Lakes. There are currently about 2.06 millions farms active in the United States.
Intensive and mechanized farming are prominent in the United States. There are all sorts of farms here from hobby farms, small-scale farms to commercial crop farming. Small farms have gradually reduced over the years. Crops popularly grown in these parts are corn, cattle meat, milk, chicken meat, soybeans, pig meat, wheat, turkey meat, tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, oranges, rice, pumpkin, watermelons, apples, sorghum, lettuce, etc. Agricultural production has gone up in the recent past and private companies have taken over agricultural practices producing more crops. Each farmer produces enough food for 96 people.
This is because farms have been consolidated and farming technologies constantly improved. The income of farmers has also gone up. About 40% land is used in the United States for some sort of farming, whether food crops or livestock. Corn is one of the major crops grown here, followed by soybean and wheat. Fish cultivation in the US is for domestic purposes mostly and some popular variety of fish are cod, haddock, Pollock, tuna, catfish, shrimp, lobsters, prawns, and salmon. Genetic engineering of seeds has significantly increased crop yield over the years. The climate is conducive to grow all sorts of crops throughout the year.
Let us briefly learn which state produces which sort of crop.
State-wise crop production –
Alabama, Oklahoma – produces peanuts predominantly
Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada – produces potatoes
Arizona – lettuce
Arkansas, Texas – rice
California – grapes
Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, West Virginia – apples
Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri – watermelon
Florida – oranges
Georgia – peaches, peanuts, blueberries
Hawaii – macadamia nuts
Illinois – pumpkin
Indiana, Virginia – tomatoes
Iowa, Montana – peas
Kansas – plums
Louisiana – Tabasco peppers
Maine, New Jersey – blueberries
Massachusetts, Wisconsin – cranberries
Michigan – tart cherries
Minnesota – apples
Mississippi, North Carolina – sweet potatoes
Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming – beans
New Mexico – Chile peppers
Oregon – pears
South Carolina – peaches
South Dakota – oats
Tennessee – snap peas
Utah – cherries
Vermont – maple syrup
Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, Alaska, Indiana, Texas, Alabama – corn
Developments in science and technology contributed to better soil, nutrient, water, pest management etc. It also led to more efficient methods of planting, harvesting, storing, processing, and transporting farm products. These developments have resulted in better quality food than ever before and increased yields. Farmers implement a variety of technologies, including precision agriculture, remote sensing, computers, the internet, specialized software, global positioning, drip irrigation, and biotechnology. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a key technology utilized in precision agriculture. This technology links to a system of satellites that provides information about where and when to plant and where to apply pesticides and fertilizer.
Farmers use only high quality, high-yielding seed varieties with characteristics desired by consumers. Many of these varieties result from advances in genetics and modern biotechnology. Modern biotechnology helps develop beneficial traits in plant and animal agricultural products. For example, corn and soybean have been genetically enhanced for improved weed, pest, and disease management, reduced pesticide use, higher-yield, reduced soil erosion, and reduced levels of natural toxins.
The prominent form of agriculture is animal agriculture that includes aquaculture, beef, dairy, goats, poultry, sheep and swine. The United States has the largest feed-cattle industry in the world. It is also the second largest consumer, exporter and importer of pork products. Farming animals requires maintaining them in a healthy state and providing protection to the animals as well as humans who consume them. There are several governing agencies that look into management of animal farming practices and its protection.
The usage of pesticides is harmful to humans and animals alike. Hence, pesticide laws have been developed to ensure that pesticides are used correctly. It also provides sufficient protection to applicators, farmers, consumers and the environment. This responsibility is shared by the state and federal government agencies, manufacturers, farmers, crop advisers, applicators and consumers. With the rise in cancer cases and other health ailments due to pesticide usage and consumption, these laws help reduce the amount of pesticides used and also find better means to use it as well as consider alternates.
Government agencies working towards environment safety where agriculture is concerned are the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). These agencies regularly perform food quality checks on food crops, produce and processed foods. Certified Crop Advisers (CCA) and licensed Pest Control Advisers (PCA) are trained to offer crop protection and pest management materials to farmers. Integrated Pest Management practices are followed to manage pests and are found effective. Some such practices include biological controls, cultural controls, physical or mechanical control, chemical control and genetic control.
Organic farming is a current rage all over the US and the industry is growing rapidly at the rate of 25% annually. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products indicate that they have not been given any growth hormones, etc. Organic crops are also produced devoid of conventional fertilizers and pesticides. Organic products are labeled by the USDA that helps identify them as purely organic. But before they can be labeled, they are thoroughly inspected.
Nanotechnology is used with an aim to detect pesticides, fertilizers and biological events of concerning the final product. It also tackles environmental issues and agricultural waste management challenges and smart systems to allow real time monitoring of constituents such as nutrients, pesticides etc.
Advancements in technology have helped farmers match seed characteristics and production practices to soil type and climatic conditions. The result is higher yields with lower input costs, efficient use of chemicals, fertilizers, and tillage resulting in better quality food at a lower cost for consumers. The current Gross cash farm income (GCFI) in the United States is forecast at $404 billion this year. After a decline in the previous years, GCFI is forecast to decline 2 % in 2018.
FARMING PRACTICES IN THE UNITED STATES