The specific cultivation practices for each of the major taro-producing There are essentially four types of planting material that are used in taro production. In other instances, cultivation was more concerned with traditional land tenure practices such as boundary demarcation. Forest cover was also used to protect. Blending agricultural with forestry techniques, this farming system helps to The principles of crop rotation have been successfully used for.
practices What were used? cultivation
This study examined crop cultivation in the US Great Plains, "the most heavily cultivated region of the United States" p. The study found a p. Note that because "Our data indicate that This figure from the paper p. In reviewing previous studies, the authors also note that "cropping in temperate grasslands typically increases aboveground productivity Buyanovsky et al.
Fertilizer and irrigation might raise yields above what would naturally be the case. More conversion of sunlight to energy means more total food, which may mean more insects can be supported—if not on the crop lands themselves, then perhaps in other places where the food waste ends up, unless the food is decomposed by less sentient bacteria in landfills. Fertilization and irrigation seem like some of the strongest arguments for the possibility that crop cultivation increases wild-animal suffering.
The invention of industrial nitrogen fertilizer is credited with enabling a quadrupling of the human population in the 20th century. As a result of extensive cultivation of legumes particularly soy, alfalfa, and clover , growing use of the Haber—Bosch process in the creation of chemical fertilizers, and pollution emitted by vehicles and industrial plants, human beings have more than doubled the annual transfer of nitrogen into biologically available forms. Ecosystem processes can increase with nitrogen fertilization, but anthropogenic input can also result in nitrogen saturation, which weakens productivity and can damage the health of plants, animals, fish, and humans.
These seem like potentially big impacts, and it would be good to explore further whether they increase plant yields relative to the counterfactual of no farming. Background and Justification ":. An intelligent species [ Indeed, artificial fertilization and irrigation are exactly this redistribution, and we rightfully identify the development of these methods as a turning point in human history and a hallmark of civilization.
Today, humanity has made photosynthetic activity common in many nominally inhospitable parts of the American Southwest and Middle East, for instance. Agricultural crops are often attractive to insects, due to sugar content or otherwise easily digested carbohydrates.
I think fibrous plants may be less edible by insects. Like trees, grasses may also be harder to eat than food crops: The amount of fibre in leaves of grass is twice that of legume leaves, and grass leaves are harder to digest than those of legumes. But there should be loss of energy in the process of going up the chain.
This page reports that "pest outbreaks occur more often on cultivated disturbed land. Note that the statement doesn't talk about all bugs, only pest bugs. Insecticides are a major cause of bug mortality.
If high mortality rates due to natural bug predators are net good because they keep bug populations down is this true? And except in rare instances of huge pest invasions that can't be controlled, it would seem that bug populations are pretty low on conventionally farmed crop fields? Crop fields probably support fewer herbivorous mammals than grasslands or forests do.
While this is good news for those mammals who will not be born into lives of suffering, it's plausibly bad news for invertebrates, since without big herbivores, there may be more vegetation left over to be eaten by invertebrates.
Of course, it should be explored further whether grazing by larger herbivores actually does reduce invertebrate populations. In general, environmental instabilities like mass kill-offs encourage animals to have more children rather than trying to invest in a few children. If insecticides cause insects, over the long run, to have more offspring per parent, this could increase suffering even for a given population size.
I don't yet have specific data on whether this is true. Fertilizer from crop fields is a main cause of eutrophication. The sign of net impact of eutrophication on wild-animal suffering is unclear , but a priori , I would expect that eutrophication is net bad because it increases the rate of production of food energy and hence plausibly increases populations of aquatic microorganisms in aggregate. Nature tends to fill itself with as many organisms as can fit into it. When an ecosystem is disrupted, there may temporarily be a decrease in how many organisms can be supported.
As a visual analogy, imagine a jar of pebbles and sand as being an ecosystem. If you stir the water in the jar, the pebbles and sand fly around, and the density of rocks per unit volume decreases. Over time, the big pebbles settle down, and later the smaller ones fill the cracks niches left by the bigger ones.
That is, as stability returns, the ecosystem is able to support a higher density of life. The downside to this, as noted above, is that ecological disruption favors the small organisms that have lots of offspring, which may actually mean more total suffering before the larger, longer-lived animals take their place. Vogel quotes ecologist Dave Goulson as saying that "If we turn all the seminatural habitats to wheat and cornfields, then there will be virtually no life in those fields.
These quotes strike me as hyperbole, but maybe the trend for crop fields to have fewer insects is accurate? This page says "In most cases, land use reduces NPP, at least over larger areas, as few croplands achieve the NPP of the native forests or grasslands they replace [ In regions where precipitation or nutrient availability limit NPP, irrigation and fertilization can also increase NPP e.
However, by increasing yields over the last 50 y, farmers brought cropland closer to replicating the productivity of native vegetation".
This piece gives NPP values for different land types. In the Jackson and Jackson table of that piece, we can see that cultivated land has roughly the same NPP tons per km 2 per year as temperate grassland and considerably lower NPP than forest.
So on average, farming may have either no impact or some impact to reduce productivity per hectare. Of course, a tiny amount of farmed land would have gone toward roads, buildings, etc.
A lot of farm land in the US is converted from grassland. It includes values considerably greater than cropland NPP estimated by Sharp et al.
The authors write p. Are the Jackson and Jackson numbers expressed in terms of total dry mass or just carbon mass? I don't have the source at the moment and don't know the answer Another consideration is that arable land may be more fertile on average than non-arable grassland? So even if farmed land has higher productivity per hectare than non-arable grassland, maybe this is partly because that land is particularly fertile and would have had higher productivity anyway.
For example, the tallgrass prairie of central North America had been very productive, with. Animals such as buffalo, elk, deer, and rabbits added nitrogen to the soil through urine and feces. Prairie dogs, a ground squirrel-like rodent considered to be a keystone species, dug tunnels that "aerated the soil and channeled water several feet below the surface.
This loss of native habitat has resulted in declines of mammals and birds. But that farmland is "one of the richest agricultural lands in the world", consistent with the idea that productive crop lands would have been productive grasslands.
These high NPP values are, no doubt, partly a consequence of the fact that throughout the world the most favorable soils and climates are the first to be exploited for crop production.
In the global average, areas currently under forestry are most productive, followed by areas used today as cropland and infrastructure. The potential productivity of grazing land is lower than that of cropland, reflecting the fact that fertile areas are used for cropping rather than for grazing, but its current productivity is slightly higher.
This stems from a substantial reduction of productivity [ Most farming practices severely erode topsoil and quickly remove its nutrients. John Crawford estimates that "soil is being lost at between 10 and 40 times the rate at which it can be naturally replenished" and "A rough calculation of current rates of soil degradation suggests we have about 60 years of topsoil left. On the other hand, how many of these nutrients find their way to other places and increase productivity there?
WWF claims that "unsustainable agricultural practices are seeing 12 million hectares of land lost each year to desertification. This article suggests monoculture crops as one cause for insect declines: These help reduce non-crop plant biomass, meaning that insects on crop fields mostly only have the crop plants to eat.
Herbicides can also inhibit aquatic autotrophs. Mother Earth News Mother Earth News also says: In fact, many herbicides may inhibit microorganism growth, and a few are very destructive. Others, such as 2,4-D, seem to have no effect at all. Insecticides seem to decimate insects for short periods of time, possibly long enough that the prevented future births and deaths outweigh the acute pain caused by the insecticides themselves.
Crop land is mostly barren of insects, both on the food and in the soil. The parts of the plants that aren't harvested decompose by bacteria because there aren't many bigger insects. A friend who works in agriculture. Assuming crop fields and counterfactual land e.
A priori it's not obvious whether the fraction of vegetation eaten by bugs is lower on crop fields or in grasslands. One reason to think the fraction is lower in crop fields is that the juiciest parts of food plants corn ears, tomatoes, apples, peanuts, etc.
One reason to think the fraction is lower on native grasslands is that big herbivores bison, elk, deer, etc. Big herbivores may eat vegetation that would otherwise feed bugs. What happens to crop-plant material that humans don't eat, like stalks and leaves?
Crop residues end up in different places depending on the crop and farm. Crop residues can also be composted. If composting is done in sufficiently big and active piles, the number of invertebrates involved in the process may be limited during the thermophilic phase of decomposition, though I presume that invertebrates may be present during later decomposition phases.
For further discussion, see " Invertebrates Created by Composting ". They prefer to handle straw in other ways, for example, by tilling it into the soil, and by chopping and spreading the straw so it does not plug up seeding equipment. It has been estimated that in Manitoba, province-wide, only about five percent of producers burn unwanted straw. This page says "Stover can be grazed as forage or collected for use as fodder but is commonly not utilized.
It can also be used as a fuel for bioenergy or as feedstock for bioproducts. This page says "Wheat straw is the leftover canes after the wheat grains are harvested and is treated mostly as waste. As such, in some countries like China farmers burn it". Burning organic matter releases stored energy without creating sentient creatures.
Crop cultivation explicitly for biofuels rather than food seems like it might have even less crop-residue waste. Most of the biomass should be burned in a way that doesn't provide energy for suffering animals. According to Wikipedia's article on " Primary production ":. Based on the above, it seems plausible that conventional crop farming creates the lowest insect populations per hectare. How does this compare with other land types? See here for further discussion of the pros and cons of organic farming relative to conventional with respect to insect suffering.
If the counterfactual land use is tropical forest, then it seems plausible that farming prevents a lot of insect deaths.
Soy from South America might be an example of a crop that displaces rainforest. Moreover, because markets for commodity crops are somewhat global, an increase in food prices in the US can slightly increase food prices around the world , creating slightly more pressure for deforestation in tropical regions. Because insecticides leave conventional-crop fields fairly barren, conventional farmed crops may have lower insect populations than counterfactual land even if they don't have lower bacteria populations.
Indeed, it's possible if not necessarily likely? Bacteria matter extremely little in my moral views, but they might matter to a nonzero degree, and the astronomical numbers of them involved in decomposition might begin to arouse some moral concern. My guess is this consideration wouldn't compete with the reduced suffering by insects, but I remain partially agnostic on this question.
In general, preventing plant biomass in the first place is morally preferable to creating it and then decomposing it with bacteria for the sakes of both the plants and the bacteria. More food cultivation generally means more climate change. Producing the food itself requires energy.
And clearing forests to create room for crop land releases carbon too p. The sign of climate change for wild animals is unclear but might be negative. Overall, it seems plausible that crop cultivation prevents more insects than it causes, relative to most types of counterfactual land. Obviously this wouldn't be true if the counterfactual land use was buildings or parking lots. Greater demand for farmed crops does imply some very slight increase in land used for farming relative to buildings, by making farming marginally more profitable than it would have been.
On the other hand, irrigation and fertilization are worrisome. I continue to have high uncertainty on the net impact of crop cultivation on short-term wild-animal suffering. According to one author: See here for discussion of the net impact of human activity overall on wild-animal populations, although the sign of humanity's overall impact needn't be the same as the sign of human impact from crop cultivation specifically.
The impact of crop farming on wild animals is extremely significant, but it's not the only important input to this analysis. Growing food also has implications for the stability of human societies in the coming decades. As a general rule, less crop cultivation now probably implies more food stability in the future. One clear example is in the area of topsoil loss as discussed above. This issue is already causing conflicts in India, China, Pakistan and the Middle East and before climate change and food security really hit, the next wars are likely to be fought over unsustainable irrigation.
Even moderately degraded soil will hold less than half of the water than healthy soil in the same location. If you're irrigating a crop, you need water to stay in the soil close to the plant roots.
If the food supply goes down, then obviously, the price goes up. The crisis points will hit the poorest countries hardest, in particular those which rely on imports: Egypt, for example, is almost entirely dependent on imports of wheat.
The capacity of the planet to produce food is already causing conflict. A lot of people argue that food price hikes caused the Arab spring, and may even have contributed to the recent violence following the release of an anti-Islam film. In general, consumption of more food crops implies higher prices on the world market.
From " Food Insecurity and Violent Conflict: Based on a review of recent research, the answer is a highly qualified yes.
Food insecurity, especially when caused by higher food prices, heightens the risk of democratic breakdown, civil conflict, protest, rioting, and communal conflict. The evidence linking food insecurity to interstate conflict is less strong, though there is some historical evidence linking declining agricultural yields to periods of regional conflict in Europe and Asia.
That said, the effects of these rebellions on democracy can be both negative and positive p. Food insecurity, proxied by low availability of calories for consumption per capita, makes democratic breakdown more likely, especially in higher-income countries, where people expect there to be larger social surpluses that could be invested to reduce food insecurity Reenock, Bernhard and Sobek, Though statistical evidence is lacking, rising food prices have been implicated in the wave of demonstrations and transitions from authoritarian rule to fledgling democracy in some countries across North Africa and the Middle East in There are some historical precedents for this: Most of these conflicts occur in poor countries and so are less likely to influence AGI arms races among major world powers.
Still, it seems plausible that the destabilizing consequences of environmental degradation are net harmful for compromise prospects among the big players in AGI development in the long term. Crop cultivation contributes to climate change, which may be net bad on balance for global stability. The contributions of increased agriculture to global instability are rather small. Could they really matter compared with the immediate suffering that might be prevented?
In this section I suggest an illustrative back-of-the-envelope calculation to show how the adverse consequences on future stability might compete with the immediate potential benefit to insects. In both calculations I was aiming to be conservative, but this latter one has many more parameters and so is arguably more conservative overall.
Needless to say, there are major problems with extreme Fermi calculations like these. I've only considered one extremely narrow possible pathway, while in fact there are many going in both directions. This calculation is not proof that the far-future effects outweigh the near-term ones, or even that the far-future effects are necessarily net bad though it seems somewhat more likely they are than not ; I'm merely aiming to show that far-future considerations could compete with near-term ones even just through the single causal chain suggested here.
In practice, our assessments should be more robust to a broad range of possible scenarios, but it seems intuitively that greater environmental instability does lead to more conflict and possibly worse futures across a broad range of scenarios. Moreover, many people are upset by the environmental and economic side effects of excess farming, so supporting more plant agriculture too aggressively could increase disdain for the effort to reduce wild-animal suffering, or even the effort to reduce suffering in general.
In view of these considerations, it may be best not to support greater crop cultivation even if we thought it had net short-term benefits to wild animals. In the discussion so far, I've mostly been considering crop cultivation as an aggregate activity.
Sometimes this alone is actionable, such as in our appraisal of growing more grain to feed to livestock, of recycling paper vs. But in other cases, the differences among crop types are most important, especially in the choice of which foods we consume. I strongly suspect there are a handful of vegan foods—this list is probably led by rice and sugar—that entail vastly more vertebrate killing than other foods.
I'd love to see this information thoroughly researched and widely disseminated, along with a list of comparable foods that entail far less killing. For instance, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it emerged that a given quantity of millet could be produced with one-tenth the killing of the same quantity of rice.
Nor would it surprise me if it turned out that many of today's vertebrate deaths could be prevented given the introduction of improved planting and harvesting methods. In both cases, people concerned with compassionate eating—vegans and omnivores alike—can be counted on to vote with their food dollar, once presented with reliable information. I find it unlikely that different cereal grains would differ by an order of magnitude in impact when all factors are considered together rather than just when looking at a single dimension , but I agree with the general sentiment: Foods differ in their implications for global stability as well as their impact to wild animals.
As just one small example, rice has nontrivial implications for water and climate change:. Long-term flooding of rice fields cuts the soil off from atmospheric oxygen and causes anaerobic fermentation of organic matter in the soil. The environmental community has already looked at differential impacts of foods from a sustainability perspective.
Exploring the Relationship " has as its third section: Hoekstra's " Virtual water: An introduction " compares water use by crop type. In general, the environmental community is more quantitatively minded in its analyses than the animal-welfare community has been so far.
Partly this reflects the greater numerosity of environmental advocates than animal advocates, but it may also reflect a fundamental difference in outlooks between the two fields. The animal-welfare community would benefit by adopting more of the methodology of the environmental community, without also adopting its ethics.
In assessing the animal impacts of foods, there are many dimensions to explore further. An ideal scenario would be to find particular foods that have low sustainability impact and also high impact on reducing wild-animal suffering.
That said, it's important not to become obsessed with individual consumer choices. Probably most of the gains in the end lie in shaping government policy or developing better agricultural technologies.
There can be a tendency to hyper-focus on the thought that "this is something I can control, so I have to choose ethically" without feeling similar ethical obligation to contribute toward big-picture changes that ultimately have more expected impact. Of course, it can be good to think about both personal decisions and broader contribution to policy at the same time. For some people, the personal ethical choices help keep their minds on the bigger questions.
As an example, vegetarians are often reminded of animal suffering because their everyday purchasing decisions are shaped by it. Mother Earth News explains:.
In conventional tillage, the earth is turned to a depth of 8 to 12 inches with a plow, most commonly one of the moldboard variety.
Subsequently, the plot is disked at least twice more to prepare the seedbed before planting takes place. In no-till, however, the first three steps in conventional cultivation are dispensed with. Seed is a living product that must be grown, harvested, and processed correctly in order to realize the yield potential of any rice variety.
Using good seed leads to lower seeding rates, higher crop emergence, reduced replanting, more uniform plant stands, and more vigorous early crop growth. Vigorous growth in early stages reduces weed problems and increases crop resistance to insect pests and diseases. All of these factors contribute to higher yields and more productive rice farms. Choosing seed of a suitable variety of rice that suits the environment it will be grown in and ensuring the seed choosen of that variety is of the highest possible quality is the essential first step in rice production.
Before rice can be planted, the soil should be in the best physical condition for crop growth and the soil surface is level. Tillage allows the seeds to be planted at the right depth, and also helps with weed control. Farmers can till the land themselves using hoes and other equipment or they can be assisted by draft animals, such as buffalo, or tractors and other machinery. Next, the land is leveled to reduce the amount of water wasted by uneven pockets of too-deep water or exposed soil.
Effective land leveling allows the seedlings to become established more easily, reduces the amount of effort required to manage the crop, and increases both grain quality and yields. Pre- germinated seedlings are transferred from a seedbed to the wet field. It requires less seed and is an effective method to control weeds, but requires more labor.
Seedlings may be transplanted by either machine or hand. Direct seeding involves broadcasting dry seed or pre-germinated seeds and seedlings by hand or planting them by machine. In rainfed and deepwater ecosystems, dry seed is manually broadcast onto the soil surface and then incorporated either by ploughing or by harrowing while the soil is still dry.
In irrigated areas, seed is normally pre- germinated prior to broadcasting. Cultivated rice is extremely sensitive to water shortages. To ensure sufficient water, most rice farmers aim to maintain flooded conditions in their field. This is especially true for lowland rice. Good water management in lowland rice focuses on practices that conserve water while ensuring sufficient water for the crop. In rainfed environments when optimal amounts of water may not be available for rice production, a suite of options are available to help farmers cope with different degrees and forms of water scarcity.
It includes sound land preparation and pre-planting activities followed by techniques such as saturated soil culture, alternate wetting and drying, raised beds, mulching, and use of aerobic rice that can cope with dryer conditions. At each growth stage, the rice plant has specific nutrient needs. This makes nutrient management a critical aspect of rice farming.
The unique properties of flooded soils make rice different from any other crop. Because of prolonged flooding in rice fields, farmers are able to conserve soil organic matter and also receive free input of nitrogen from biological sources, which means they need little or no nitrogen fertilizer to retain yields.
However, farmers can tailor nutrient management to the specific conditions of their field to increase yields. These include rodents, harmful insects, viruses, diseases, and weeds. Farmers manage weeds through water management and land preparation, by hand weeding, and in some cases herbcide application.
Coconut cultivation practices
Chena cultivation was a traditional practice and ancient Sri Lankans ensured that the environment was unharmed in the process. The techniques used to. U.S. potato growing practices are the result of many factors: WORLD The latest technology is used to monitor the weather so growers can adapt their irrigation. The history of agriculture records the domestication of plants and animals and the development Rice was domesticated in China by BC with earliest known cultivation from agriculture was transformed with improved techniques and the diffusion of crop plants, Similar ploughs were used throughout antiquity .