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History of farming
History of agriculture in Africa Ten thousand years ago people lived in small groups
- the groups further developed into towns,cities and villages
- early people were hunters and gatherers
- they hunted wildlife and gathered fruits and berries
- later on people began to domesticate animals
- Domestication is the process whereby animals began to live with people for their survival
- onwards people began to cultivate crops for food
SHIFTING CULTIVATION this is the system of cultivation whereby people moved from place to place into search of good soils(fertile soil) _Later, they practised sedentary farming whereby people cultivated on the same piece of land (settled) Pastoralism is the activity done by early farmers whereby they move from place to place into search of good pastures. This developed into modern agriculture of today eg cashcrop and animal rearing into Zimbabwe!!!
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Tillage is mechanical manipulation of soil to create favourable soil conditions for better seed germination or subsequent crops growth. For this purpose different tools are required.
Tillage is an Anglo saxon word.
- CORRECT COMPACTION
Soil compaction can be a farmer’s number one enemy and correcting compaction can be the most basic step a farmer can take to improve crop production. A proper balance of basic soil elements – air, minerals, water and organic matter – are necessary to optimize soil and crop growing conditions. Compaction wreaks havoc on the availability of air and water within the soil, throwing off the balance of these vital elements. In fields with serious compaction issues, root growth can be impaired and plants can become stressed as air and water are ‘squeezed’ from the soil. Compaction makes both wet and dry soil conditions more severe, reducing the water holding capacity of soil which makes drought conditions worse, and inhibiting drainage to make wet conditions more troublesome. The good news is vertical tillage systems like the Salford I-Series can help correct compaction issues while providing the benefits of conservation tillage.
- REDUCE OPERATING COSTS
Salford’s true vertical tillage and hybrid vertical tillage systems offer farmers the most efficient equipment for the job and help reduce operating costs when compared to conventional tillage. These machines make the management of fall residue and spring seedbed preparation easy, no matter the soil condition, wet or dry. Getting the job done right the first time reduces the number of passes and at an acre per hour, per foot, the I-2100 and I-4100 can get the job done faster, saving you time and money.
- MANAGE RESIDUE
Maintaining the right amount of residue coverage will prevent moisture evaporation, slow run off and prevent soil erosion. Minimal tillage systems can level and distribute crop residue evenly throughout the field, cut and condition residue to assist with insect and disease habitat destruction and, in some cases, speed up the decay of crop residue by promoting increased microbial activity to improve organic matter. Salford’s I-Series machines are designed to provide a more efficient, less intrusive way to manage residue, increasing the overall benefits of crop residue, while improving the health and productivity of your soil.
- BALANCE MOISTURE
Incorporating conservation tillage into your field management will reduce soil disturbance, helping to maintain or increase necessary organic matter. Improving organic matter can help with moisture control in dry areas, because the more organic matter, the greater the soil’s capacity to capture and store moisture. Minimal tillage can also increase water filtration by loosening soil bunk density and maintaining sub-soil habitat for soil organisms. In wet areas, farmers can improve moisture evaporation and increase the rate of soil warming and allow for earlier planting.
- OPTIMIZE SOIL HEALTH
Soil is a finite resource, and healthy soil is a premium. While implementing practices like no-till and conservation tillage can help correct and improve soil health, it can take years to reverse problems like compaction and erosion. But every little bit counts. The benefits of conservation tillage, including improved soil quality, increased organic matter, better filtration and reduced soil erosion can all add up to an investment in the future of your fields and yields. Optimize your soil health by adopting conservation efforts like vertical tillage. Your local Salford Group dealer can assist in selecting the right machine and tools for your farm and soil improvement plan.
Crops are grown from year to year with zero or minimum soil disturbance through tillage in this system. In Minimum tillage, soil disturbance is kept to minimum level. In Zero tillage or No-Till system, no soil disturbance is done season in season out. No-tillage or no-till, also referred to as zero tillage, is a soil cultivation system in which seeds are deposited directly into untilled soil. It is defined “as a system of planting (seeding) crops into untilled soil by opening a narrow slot trench or band only of sufficient width and depth to obtain proper seed coverage. No other soil tillage is done.” No-till farming is not concerned only with soil tillage – it encompasses four broad, intertwined management practices:
- Minimal soil disturbance (no ploughing and harrowing),
- Maintenance of a permanent vegetative soil cover,
- direct sowing and
- Sound crop rotation
No-till and conservation agriculture:
No-till and conservation agriculture are therefore difficult to distinguish from each other. Further it defines the tillage practice of conservation agriculture as follows: “The practice of conservation agriculture advocates minimal soil disturbance and hence much less or no tilling is carried out.” This means that conservation agriculture can imply either less deep and/or less frequent tillage practices. No-till as a component of conservation agriculture is today actively promoted by a growing number of research and extension programmes. Certain prerequisites must be met for successful implementation of no-till farming. Like other agronomic technologies, it requires know how and a detailed understanding of soil-plant interactions. Special no-till equipment is needed: no-till is bound to fail if techniques for drilling seed into residues at the proper depth are not available.
In principle, the method always involves the following stages:
- Handling loose straw or living mulch by cutting/moving aside or rolling;
- Application of seeds and fertilizers;
- Furrow closing;
- Seed/soil compaction.
Implements and Tools for zero tillage:
There can be find several equipment’s which are used for no-till farming. Farmers use these implements to facilitate no till farming practices.
- No till planter
- Planter is arguably one of the most important pieces of equipment for farmers, especially if you are planning on going into no-till farming. - To ensure that crops planted at the same depth and spacing have to use a fine-toothed comb. - This will ensure that every seed is in the exact same soil moisture and temperature environment, allowing for the crops to come out evenly.
- A roller/crimper
- Organic, no-till farming begins successfully with a cover-crop, which turns into mulch once it is killed or has died. - In order to accelerate this process, it is able to ‘kill’ the cover crop by hand with tools if your plot is small enough but for a larger piece of land, it will need farming implements to help you. - It is a large, heavy cylinder with long blades welded onto it in a chevron pattern. As it is rolled over a cover crop, the blades crimp the stems of the plants, killing them in place to make moisture conserving mulch as part of the ground cover for your crops. - This mulch adds organic matter to the soil as it degrades. Because a cover-crop needs to be thick, a roller/crimper is the ideal piece of farm equipment to use.
- A broad fork
- This tool is used to avoid soil compaction. - Loosening the soil with a broad fork allows to have the benefits of deep tillage without actually performing any tilling. - Broad forks are hand tools with long tines that are perfect for digging deep into the soil when turning it.
- A subsoiler
- Similar to a broad fork that is considered to be low or no-till. - A subsoiler is a tractor attachment that can be dragged through the soil to loosen compacted bed. - Using a broad fork or other hand tools is an effective no-till method that eliminates compacted soil and other issues.
- A no-till seed drill
- Piece of equipment that places seeds at correct depth and space apart. - The front ‘openers’ or blades cut a trench into the soil, then the double disk seed drill places the seed at the correct depth. The packer wheels cover the hole and pack the soil for the correct seed-to-soil contact. - A no-till drill ensures accurate planting of crops, and also means that less seed needs to be used, saving farmer’s money and effort. - The price of seed can become expensive, which means that accurate planting is necessary to save money and make a profit from your crops. - No-till may sound like a practice that does not use machinery, but equipment such as a no-till seed drill makes it a more labour-saving process.
- Zero till seed/grain drill cum fertilizer
- Zero-till drilling of wheat is becoming an attractive alternative to the conventional tillage and sowing of wheat after rice. - With seed cum fertilizer drill the seeds are sown along with basal placement of fertilizer over a well-prepared seed bed.
- Metal cutting blade mould board plough
- Mould Board Plough is the most important plough for primary tillage in canal irrigated or heavy rain areas where too much weeds grow. - The objective for ploughing with a Mould Board is to completely invert and pulverize the soil, up-root all weeds, trash and crop residues and bury them under the soil. - The shape of mould Board is designed to cut down the soil and invert it to right side, completely burying the undesired growth which is subsequently turned into manure after decomposition.
- Rotary weeder
- The Rotary Weeder is a tool used to remove weeds either manually or mechanically. - It is helpful to farmers who uses minimal to zero amount of herbicides or tillage. Manual weeding takes about 25 days solo work to finish one hectare. - Latest mechanical weeder is light, one horsepower (HP), and does three rows at a time and easy to operate, making it possible even for women to work with. - Two weeders can to do a hectare of rice in just five hours. However, the latest model is still subject for further development.
Management of zero tillage:
Zero tillage requires some different skills in order to do it successfully with any production system, if zero tillage is not done correctly, yield can drop. So, a combined technique is required for the management of zero tillage.
- Cover crops
Cover crop mulch based Zero tillage production as an innovative,alternative practice in organic farming to reduce intensive soil tillage. They are occasionally using in agriculture as guard crops, they leave residue to the soil and also kill various weeds. Farmers use them for controlling of weeds so that the succeeding crop may get enough energy resource for their growth, nutrition and development.
- Integrated disease and pest management
Nowadays, it is very popularly adopted in western countries. The approach is very simple. Here the ecosystem is not hurt at all. So, farmers adopt this practice to get optimum yield using zero tillage.
- Crop rotation
With zero tillage, the residue is kept at the soil surface and thus it increases the soil moisture. But this may also bring the disease or pest outbreak to the crop field. So to manage this problem, farmers should use crop rotation, by the rotation of crops, the completion of pathogen life cycle can be stopped and thus they can be easily managed.
- Use of light implements
The proper zero tillage can be done with the help of light implements. So, it is necessary to use light tractors as it escapes the chances of soil compaction.
Advantages and disadvantages of no tillage practices:
No-tillage systems have a number of advantages and disadvantages. It is important to note that ‘no-tillage’ needs to be adapted to site-specific conditions, therefore it is important to ensure a comprehensive management that ensures the selection of the most appropriate system for particular soil and climatic conditions on the farm in question and the selection and operation of appropriate equipment. There can be find environmental, social and economic advantages:
- Economic Advantages
• Energy and Labour costs over the total production process can be reduced • Reduced use of fertilizers and lower production costs • Crop productivity increased
- Social Advantages
• Better profitability and higher crop yields mean that the farming family could have a greater chance of succeeding and remaining on the land
- Environmental Advantages
• Crop yields are equal to or better than under conventional tillage • Maintenance or increase in the SOM content (enhancement of soil quality) • Soil improvement (chemical, physical and biological characteristics). • Studies of no-tillage have shown that it leads to significant changes in the physical and biotic characteristics of the soil environment. Most studies have shown that the soil becomes more dense, primarily because the number of larger pore spaces in the soil is reduced and the number of smaller spaces is increased. This reduces aeration somewhat, but tends to increase the water holding capacity of the soil. • No tilled soils tend to be cooler than others, partly because a surface layer of plant residues is present Carbon is sequestered in the soil enhancing its quality, reducing the threat of global warming. • Planting times are more flexible. Planting can take place immediately after rain and there is no wait for tillage operations. In double cropping situations (cowpeas after maize, for instance), harvesting, slashing, spraying, and planting can take place within a few days. • Water runoff is reduced, which is beneficial in two ways: more water is available for the crop and soil erosion is reduced. • Reduced wind and water erosion. Reduced erosion can lead to off-site benefits such as a reduced rate of siltation of water courses and increased recharge of aquifers. • Increased water infiltration into the soil and increased soil moisture.
On the other hand, the disadvantages of minimum and no-tillage systems are: ➢ Economic Disadvantages: - Short term yield effects have been found to be variable (positive, neutral or negative yield responses which can discourage the adoption of zero tillage practices). - The variability in short-term crop responses to ZT is principally the result of the interacting effects of crop requirements, soil characteristics and climate.
➢ Social Disadvantages: - Not tilling the soil may results in increased weed pressure. The increased amount of labour required for weeding with ZT may outweigh the labour saving gained by not ploughing, - Herbicides are used to control weeds. It enhances environmental pollution. - no tillage has resulted in increased labour requirements when herbicides are not used - In some countries, no-tillage might result in a gender shift of the labour burden to women.
➢ Environmental Disadvantages: - Herbicides must be used often and with accuracy. - Application of herbicides is critical in cases where the farmer does not plough or till to control weeds and grasses. - Before planting, any vegetation present must be killed with a broad–spectrum herbicide, the effects of which are non-persistent. - After planting, more specific and more persistent herbicides are usually required to control specific weeds particular to the crop situation.
A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest (epa.gov). Pests can be defined as any organism that causes plant diseases. Agricultural pesticides are then those chemicals that are used by farmers to prevent the effectivity of the pests on the growth and productivity of agricultural crops.
Pesticides are either restricted or unclassified.
- Restricted means it can cause harm to humans or the environment.
- Unclassified refers to all other pesticides.
Pesticides are made up of active and inert ingredients. There are certain labeling requirements for the commercial distribution of products that used agricultural pesticides. The active ones are those which do the damage to the pest, federal law mandates that these ingredients be clearly labeled on the packaging. Inert ingredients are not required to be labeled as they do not cause harm, they are usually present as a solvent in the solution. (inert ingredients are not necessarily non-toxic). All pesticides must be registered with the EPA before they can be sold or distributed. There are many tests and requirements concerning the potential effects of the pesticides in order to be approved.
- Sources of Agricultural Pesticides
Pesticides became common after the second World War as part of the war effort was scientific research into a way to end hunger, i.e. pesticides and the increasing productivity and availability of food production with their help. Currently an estimated 3.2 million tons of pesticides are used each year.
Pesticides are wasted in environments where the farmer has little knowledge or care for the detrimental effects of the pesticides. Without regulations and enforcements these pesticides can easily be spread farther than their intended area. This is especially common in developing countries. With misuse the pesticides can easily be picked up by the rainwater and washed into the streams as runoff.
- Transport of Agricultural Pesticides
Pesticides can be transported to humans or other organisms in a variety of ways. It is near to impossible for the pesticide to only affect its targeted crop.
-Wind is one transportation method. The wind picks up the pesticides and can blow them onto other farms or into rivers.
-It can be absorbed into the soil and then taken up by other organisms or can contaminate the surface and groundwater that run over/through it.
- Pesticides are then absorbed by the plants which is detrimental to the growth of the plants.
- That which is not absorbed usually remains on the surface and flows into streams as surface runoff. It is dissolved into the water and then can be taken in by plants and animals. The streams would then be considered a reservoir of pesticides with a relatively high abundance level.
I have found that in Rhode Island, if I broadcast brassica seed for salad and then disc it or rake it in, after September 6, there is very little weed competition, and I get a better yield for the amount of bed space used.
We get many more cuttings off of direct seeded salad mix when the soul has been amended with generous amounts of compost that if it is planted in poor soil, its usually sweeter as well.
Do well planted onto plastic mulch.
We are new to this, but we grew Asparagus from seed this year and transplanted it without digging a big trench, which is usually recommended when planting asparagus, our plants seem to be very healthy, I don't think you really need to dig a big trench.
Seed carrots after a short bare fallow if you have a lot of weeds, and be sure to give them plenty of compost, then they will grow quickly and the bare fallow will take care of a lot of your weeds.
INTRODUCTION: The introduction of chemicals in farming got many delirious at the sight of what they could accomplish. Yields exploded. At the start, the soil was healthy. Any damage brought about by chemical fertilizers was hardly noticeable. Pests had not developed resistance to the chemicals. The technology spread across the world as it was considered the revolution in agriculture.
We seed our leeks a few to a cell, shooting for 3 to a cell, then transplant them all together in their clumps of 3, with the clumps 9" apart, we then either harvest them or thin out the small ones, selling them as early season baby leeks, and allow the biggest ones to become full size storage leeks. Because they are competing with each other, they get taller and have longer shanks, we dont have as much trouble with weeds because the plants are easier to hoe and mulch, and we get a better yield out of a bed.
We have landscapers bring leaves to our farm for us to use as mulch, this year we had one of the landscapers who brings already chopped up leaves (you don't want to use whole leaves because they will blow away) drive onto the field, being careful to drive in the pathway and not smush the bed, and dump the leaves directly on the field, where we could spread them out with a pitch fork, saving us the trouble of moving them our selves.
At our five-acre vegetable farm in Western Washington, the two biggest issues with growing dry beans are 1) getting them to fully mature and dry before the autumn rain and 2) threshing and cleaning. Some labor saving practices related to #1: Choose appropriate varieties and plant as early as possible. Weed early and well. Big weeds late in the season will harbor dew and soil moisture and keep your bean plants green when you want them to dry down. We use a pretty close in-row spacing of two inches to reduce in-row weeds. If you are watering, you'll want to cut off irrigation early enough. NDSU extension recommends stopping irrigation when half of the plants' leaves or three-quarters of the pods are yellowing. When beans are ready to harvest, we pull plants and windrow them in the field for a few sunny days if possible, flipping them over occasionally. If only rain is ahead, you can bring plants into a greenhouse or other dry place until pods are crispy. Burlap sacks work well for transporting and storage at this stage. As for #2: We use an electric-powered, modified chipper-shredder to thresh the beans. WSU has designs to make one at http://sustainableseedsystems.wsu.edu/nicheMarket/smallScaleThreshing.html. I hear that driving over your beans with a truck and/or dancing on top of them will work, too. After threshing, a good screening system will save you much time down the road. You can make simple screens with hardware cloth and wooden frames. I'd use a 1/2" top screen to keep out large trash and an 1/8" bottom screen to let the fines through. A box fan works well for winnowing. To cut down on the final cleaning time, leave moldy pods in the field at harvest. Once moldy beans get mixed in with the rest, it is very tedious to get them out.
An agricultural subsidy is a governmental subsidy paid to farmers to supplement their income, help manage the supply of agricultural commodities, and bolster the supply of such commodities on international markets. Examples of such commodities include wheat, feed grains (grain used as fodder, such as maize, sorghum, barley, and oats), cotton, milk, rice, peanuts, sugar, tobacco, and oilseeds such as soybeans.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is required by law to subsidize over two dozen commodities. Between 1996 and 2002, an average of $16 billion/year was paid by programs authorized by federal legislation dating back to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, the Agricultural Act of 1949, and the Commodity Credit Corporation, among others.
The beneficiaries of the subsidies have changed as U.S. agriculture changes. In the 1930s, about 25% of the U.S. population resided on the nation's 6,000,000 small farms. By 1997, 157,000 large farms accounted for 72% of farm sales, with only 2% of the U.S. population residing on farms.
Proponents of agricultural subsidies argue that they are necessary because of the unusual nature of the agricultural industry. For one, a big part of crop yield, and therefore price, is based upon the weather both at home and abroad in remote parts of the world. Because of the uncertain nature of the weather, price subsidies are necessary to ensure that farmers receive a liveable wage.
One criticism of subsidy comes from conservatives and libertarians arguing that subsidies are against the will of the free market. For example, poor store owners don't receive relief from the market, and therefore neither should poor farmers. Furthermore, justification of subsidies from the uncertain nature of the weather can be countered by considering that many other areas of economy experience equivalent risks for which the free market can provide solutions, e.g. insurance.
Economists strongly rebuke the benefits of reduced retail prices derived from subsidising over-production. If the government were to subsidize car manufacturers to produce more cars then this would indeed lower the showroom price, but it would be the consumer's own money collected through taxes that would be used to fund the over-production. It would be impossible for the lower retail costs to outweigh the additional production costs, otherwise the manufacturers could simply implement this technique themselves.
Agricultural policy describes a set of laws relating to domestic agriculture and imports of foreign agricultural products. Governments usually implement agricultural policies with the goal of achieving a specific outcome in the domestic agricultural product markets. Outcomes can range from guaranteed supply level, price stability, product quality, product selection, land use or employment.
Governments pay subsidies to encourage domestic production of a good. Such subsidies are necessary when a government wants to alter the free-market outcome in product markets. The subsidies transfer some costs of production from producers to the government, allowing production at above-market costs. The effect of Western food subsidies [360$ billion] is overwhelmingly to reduce world prices. For decades the 3rd world has earned only half the free market price for food, its primary product. Consumption subsidies can also be used to alter markets. A consumption subsidy offsets a portion of the purchase price of a product.
Price floors or ceilings set a minimum or maximum price for a product. Price controls alter free-market outcomes by encouraging over-production by a price floor or over-consumption by a price ceiling.
A government can erect trade barriers to limit the quantity of goods imported (in the case of a quota) or enact tariffs to raise the domestic price of imported products. These barriers give preference to domestic producers.
Some argue that nations have an interest in assuring there is sufficient domestic production capability to meet domestic needs in the event of a global supply disruption. Significant dependence on foreign food producers makes a country strategically vulnerable in the event of war, blockade or embargo. Maintaining adequate domestic capability allows for food self-sufficiency that lessens the risk of supply shocks due to geopolitical events. Agricultural policies may be used to support domestic producers as they gain domestic and international market share. This may be a short term way of encouraging an industry until it is large enough to thrive without aid. Or it may be an ongoing subsidy designed to allow a product to compete with or undercut foreign competition. This may produce a net gain for a government despite the cost of interventions because it allows a country to build up an export industry or reduce imports.
Subsidising farming may encourage people to remain on the land and obtain some income. This might be relevant to a third world country with many peasant farmers, but it may also be a consideration to more developed countries such as Poland. This has a very high unemployment rate, much farmland and retains a large rural population growing food for their own use. Price controls may be used to assist poor citizens. Many countries have used this method of welfare support as it delivers cheap food to the poorest without the need to assess people to give them financial aid.
See green economists. Some argue that small gardens and greenhouses should be favored, especially if produce is consumed locally. Some argue for tax, tariff and trade rules to exempt such production for local use, especially family farm or farm co-op production, and strongly deny that agricultural and industrial policy should be linked, or should be subject to the same law. One rationale is that local production of organic produce by families in their own gardens for their own consumption is not taxed or regulated, and that little or no use of the energy-and-land-intensive transport system, or energy-and-labor intensive regulation system is required for these same people to sell the same product to neighbors.
- Safe trade rules to encourage organic farming and self-reliance, led by opponents of genetically modified food and monoculture.
- Fair trade rules to ensure that poor farmers in underdeveloped nations that produce crops primarily for export are not exploited to put local farmers in developing nations out of work - which advocates consider a dangerous "race to the bottom" in agricultural labor and safety standards. Opponents point out that most agriculture in developed nations is produced by industrial corporations (agribusinesses) which are hardly deserving of sympathy, and that the alternative to exploitation is poverty.
When rich countries subsidize domestic production, excess output is often given to the developing world as foreign aid. This process eliminates the domestic market for agricultural products in the developing world, because the products can be obtained for free from western aid agencies. In developing nations where these effects are most severe, small farmers could no longer afford basic inputs and were forced to sell their land.
"Consider a farmer in Ghana who used to be able to make a living growing rice. Several years ago, Ghana was able to feed and export their surplus. Now, it imports rice. From where? Developed countries. Why? Because it's cheaper. Even if it costs the rice producer in the developed world much more to produce the rice, he doesn't have to make a profit from his crop. The government pays him to grow it, so he can sell it more cheaply to Ghana than the farmer in Ghana can. And that farmer in Ghana? He can't feed his family anymore."(Lyle Vanclief, Canadian Minister of Agriculture)
According to The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat and rice are sold below the cost of production, or dumped. Dumping rates are approximately forty percent for wheat, between twenty-five and thirty percent for corn (maize), approximately thirty percent for soybeans, fifty-seven percent for cotton, and approximately twenty percent for rice. For example, wheat is sold for forty percent below cost.
According to Oxfam, "If developed nations eliminated subsidy programs, the export value of agriculture in lesser developed nations would increase by 24 %, plus a further 5.5 % from tariff equilibrium. ... exporters can offer US surpluses for sale at prices around half the cost of production; destroying local agriculture and creating a captive market in the process."
Free trade advocates desire the elimination of all market distorting mechanisms (subsidies, tariffs, regulations) and argue that, as with free trade in all areas, this will result in aggregate benefit for all. This position is particularly popular in competitive agricultural exporting nations in both the developed and developing world, some of whom have banded together in the Cairns Group lobby. Canada's Department of Agriculture estimates that developing nations would benefit by about $4 billion annually if subsidies in the developed world were halved.
Many countries don't grow enough food to feed their own populations. These nations must buy food from other countries. Lower prices and free food save the lives of millions of starving people, despite the drop in food sales of the local farmers.
A developing nation could use new improved farming methods to grow more food, with the ultimate goal of feeding their nation without outside help. New greenhouse methods, hydroponics, fertilizers, R/O Water Processors, hybrid crops, fast-growing hybrid trees for quick shade, interior temperature control, greenhouse or tent insulation, autonomous building gardens, sun lamps, mylar, fans, and other cheap tech can be used to grow crops on previously unarable land, such as rocky, mountainous, desert, and even arctic lands. More food can be grown, reducing dependency on other countries for food.
Replacement crops can also make nations agriculturally independent. Sugar, for example, comes from sugar cane imported from Polynesia. Instead of buying the sugar from Polynesia, a nation can make sugar from sugar beets, maple sap, or sweetener from stevia plant, keeping the profits circulating within the nation's economy. Paper and clothes can be made of hemp instead of trees and cotton. Tropical foods won't grow in many places in Europe, but they will grow in insulated greenhouses or tents in Europe. Soybean plant cellulose can replace plastic (made from oil). Lemon oil can replace car oil for lubrication. Ethanol from farm waste or hempseed oil can replace gasoline. Rainforest medicine plants grown locally can replace many imported medicines. This is why Thomas Jefferson said that the best thing you can do for your country is to grow a new crop species. Alternates of cash crops, like sugar and oil replacements, allow the farmer to make more money on the real market, reducing the farmer's dependency on subsidies in both developed and developing nations.
The farmer population is approximately five percent of the total population in the E.U. and 1.7% in the U.S.
The total value of agricultural production amounted to 128 billion euros (1998). About forty-nine percent of this amount was accounted for by political measures: 37 billion euros due to direct payments and 43 billion euros from consumers due to the artificially high price. Eighty percent of European farmers receive a direct payment of 5,000 euros or less, while 2.2% receive a direct payment above 50,000 euros, totaling forty percent of all direct subsidies.
The average U.S. farmer receives $16,000 in annual subsidies. Two-thirds of farmers receive no direct payments. Of those that do, the average amount amongst the lowest paid eighty percent was $7000 from 1995-2003. (http://www.ewg.org/farm/findings.php) Subsidies are a mix of tax reductions, direct cash payments and below-market prices on water and other inputs. Some claim that these aggregate figures are misleading because large agribusinesses, rather than individual farmers, receive a significant share of total subsidy spending. The Freedom to Farm Act of 1996 reduced farm subsidies, providing fixed payments over a period and replacing price supports and subsidies. The Farm Bill (2002) contains direct and countercyclical payments designed to limit the effects of low prices and yields.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has extracted commitments from the Philippines government, making it lower import barriers to half their present levels over a span of six years, and allowing in drastically increased competition from the industrialised and heavily subsidised farming systems of North America and Europe. A recent Oxfam report estimated that average household incomes of maize farmers will be reduced by as much as 30% over the six years as cheap imports from the US drive down prices in the local markets. The report estimates that in the absence of trade restrictions, US subsidised maize could be marketed at less than half the price of maize grown on the Philippine island of Mindanao; and that the livelihoods of up to half a million Filipino maize farmers (out of the total 1.2 million) are under immediate threat.