Agricultural productivity

Agricultural productivity

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Agricultural productivity is measured as the ratio of agricultural output
Output
Output is the term denoting either an exit or changes which exit a system and which activate/modify a process. It is an abstract concept, used in the modeling, system design and system exploitation.-In control theory:...

s to agricultural
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 inputs. While individual products are usually measured by weight, their varying densities make measuring overall agricultural output difficult. Therefore, output is usually measured as the market value
Market value
Market value is the price at which an asset would trade in a competitive auction setting. Market value is often used interchangeably with open market value, fair value or fair market value, although these terms have distinct definitions in different standards, and may differ in some...

 of final output, which excludes intermediate products such as corn feed
Feed
Feed may refer to:In animal foodstuffs:* Compound feed, feedstuffs that are blended from various raw materials and additives* Fodder , any foodstuff that is used specifically to feed domesticated livestockIn computing:...

 used in the meat industry. This output value may be compared to many different types of inputs such as labour and land (yield). These are called partial measures of productivity. Agricultural productivity may also be measured by what is termed total factor productivity
Total factor productivity
In economics, total-factor productivity is a variable which accounts for effects in total output not caused by inputs. If all inputs are accounted for, then total factor productivity can be taken as a measure of an economy’s long-term technological change or technological dynamism.If all inputs...

 (TFP). This method of calculating agricultural productivity compares an index of agricultural inputs to an index of outputs. This measure of agricultural productivity was established to remedy the shortcomings of the partial measures of productivity; notably that it is often hard to identify the factors cause them to change. Changes in TFP are usually attributed to technological improvements.

Sources of agricultural productivity


Some sources of agricultural productivity are:
  • Mechanization
  • High yield varieties, which were the basis of the Green revolution
    Green Revolution
    Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production around the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s....

  • Fertilizer
    Fertilizer
    Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

    s: Primary plant nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and secondary nutrients nutrients such as sulfur, zinc, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium and molybdenum on deficient soil
  • Liming of acid soils to raise pH
    PH
    In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

     and to provide calcium and magnesium
  • Irrigation
    Irrigation
    Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

  • Herbicide
    Herbicide
    Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers, are pesticides used to kill unwanted plants. Selective herbicides kill specific targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often synthetic "imitations" of plant...

    s
  • Pesticide
    Pesticide
    Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

    s
  • Increased plant density
  • Animal feed
    Animal feed
    Animal feed may refer to:*Compound feed, commercial pelleted food produced in a feed mill and fed to domestic livestock*Fodder, food given to domestic livestock, including plants cut and carried to them*Forage, growing plants eaten by domestic livestock....

     made more digestible by processing
  • Keeping animals indoors in cold weather


See: Productivity improving technologies (historical)
Productivity improving technologies (historical)
Productivity improving technologies date back to antiquity, with rather slow progress until the late Middle Ages. Technological progress was aided by literacy and the diffusion of knowledge that accelerated after the spinning wheel spread to Western Europe in the 13th century...

 Section: 4: Mechanized agriculture, Section 7: Scientific agriculture

Importance of agricultural productivity


The productivity of a region's farm
Farm
A farm is an area of land, or, for aquaculture, lake, river or sea, including various structures, devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food , fibres and, increasingly, fuel. It is the basic production facility in food production. Farms may be owned and operated by a single...

s is important for many reasons. Aside from providing more food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

, increasing the productivity of farms affects the region's prospects for growth and competitiveness on the agricultural market, income distribution
Income distribution
In economics, income distribution is how a nation’s total economy is distributed amongst its population.Income distribution has always been a central concern of economic theory and economic policy...

 and savings, and labour migration. An increase in a region's agricultural productivity implies a more efficient
Efficient
Efficient may refer to:* Efficiency, the extent to which time or effort is well used for the intended task or purpose* Efficient , a Thoroughbred racehorse...

 distribution of scarce resources. As farmers adopt new techniques and differences in productivity arise, the more productive farmers benefit from an increase in their welfare while farmers who are not productive enough will exit the market to seek success elsewhere.

As a region's farms become more productive, its comparative advantage
Comparative advantage
In economics, the law of comparative advantage says that two countries will both gain from trade if, in the absence of trade, they have different relative costs for producing the same goods...

 in agricultural products increases, which means that it can produce these products at a lower opportunity cost
Opportunity cost
Opportunity cost is the cost of any activity measured in terms of the value of the best alternative that is not chosen . It is the sacrifice related to the second best choice available to someone, or group, who has picked among several mutually exclusive choices. The opportunity cost is also the...

 than can other regions. Therefore, the region becomes more competitive on the world
World
World is a common name for the whole of human civilization, specifically human experience, history, or the human condition in general, worldwide, i.e. anywhere on Earth....

 market, which means that it can attract more consumer
Consumer
Consumer is a broad label for any individuals or households that use goods generated within the economy. The concept of a consumer occurs in different contexts, so that the usage and significance of the term may vary.-Economics and marketing:...

s since they are able to buy more of the products offered for the same amount of money.

Increases in agricultural productivity lead also to agricultural growth and can help to alleviate poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 in poor and developing countries, where agriculture often employs the greatest portion of the population. As farms become more productive, the wages earned by those who work in agriculture increase. At the same time, food prices decrease and food supplies become more stable. Labourers therefore have more money to spend on food as well as other products. This also leads to agricultural growth. People see that there is a greater opportunity earn their living by farming and are attracted to agriculture either as owners of farms themselves or as labourers.

However, it is not only the people employed in agriculture who benefit from increases in agricultural productivity. Those employed in other sectors also enjoy lower food prices and a more stable food supply. Their wages may also increase.

Agricultural productivity is becoming increasingly important as the world population
World population
The world population is the total number of living humans on the planet Earth. As of today, it is estimated to be  billion by the United States Census Bureau...

 continues to grow. India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, one of the world's most populous countries, has taken steps in the past decades to increase its land productivity. Forty years ago, North India
North India
North India, known natively as Uttar Bhārat or Shumālī Hindustān , is a loosely defined region in the northern part of India. The exact meaning of the term varies by usage...

 produced only wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, but with the advent of the earlier maturing high-yielding wheats and rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

s, the wheat could be harvested in time to plant rice. This wheat/rice combination is now widely used throughout the Punjab
Punjab (India)
Punjab ) is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the...

, Haryana
Haryana
Haryana is a state in India. Historically, it has been a part of the Kuru region in North India. The name Haryana is found mentioned in the 12th century AD by the apabhramsha writer Vibudh Shridhar . It is bordered by Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and by Rajasthan to the west and south...

, and parts of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

. The wheat yield of three tons and rice yield of two tons combine for five tons of grain per hectare
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

, helping to feed India's 1.1 billion people.

Agricultural productivity and sustainable development


Increase in agricultural productivity are often linked with questions about sustainability and sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

. Changes in agricultural practices necessarily bring changes in demands on resources. This means that as regions implement measures to increase the productivity of their farm land, they must also find ways to ensure that future generations will also have the resources they will need to live and thrive.

U.S. Agriculture productivity


Between 1950 and 2000, during the so called "second agricultural revolution of modern times", U.S. agricultural productivity rose fast, especially due to the development of new technologies. For example, the average amount of milk produced per cow increased from 5,314 pounds to 18,201 pounds per year (+242%), the average yield of corn rose from 39 bushels to 153 bushels per acre (+292%), and each farmer in 2000 produced on average 12 times as much farm output per hour worked as a farmer did in 1950.

Productive farms



For many farmer
Farmer
A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, who raises living organisms for food or raw materials, generally including livestock husbandry and growing crops, such as produce and grain...

s (especially in non-industrial countries) agricultural productivity may mean much more. A productive farm is one that provides most of the resources necessary for the farmer's family to live, such as food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

, fuel
Fuel
Fuel is any material that stores energy that can later be extracted to perform mechanical work in a controlled manner. Most fuels used by humans undergo combustion, a redox reaction in which a combustible substance releases energy after it ignites and reacts with the oxygen in the air...

, fiber
Fiber
Fiber is a class of materials that are continuous filaments or are in discrete elongated pieces, similar to lengths of thread.They are very important in the biology of both plants and animals, for holding tissues together....

, healing plant
Herbalism
Herbalism is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, herblore, and phytotherapy...

s, etc. It is a farm which ensures food security
Food security
Food security refers to the availability of food and one's access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. According to the World Resources Institute, global per capita food production has been increasing substantially for the past...

 as well as a way to sustain the well-being of a community. This implies that a productive farm is also one which is able to ensure proper management of natural resources
Natural Resources
Natural Resources is a soul album released by Motown girl group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1970 on the Gordy label. The album is significant for the Vietnam War ballad "I Should Be Proud" and the slow jam, "Love Guess Who"...

, such as biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

, soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

, water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

, etc. For most farmers, a productive farm would also produce more goods than required for the community in order to allow trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

.

Diversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 in agricultural production is one key to productivity, as it enables risk management
Risk management
Risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of opportunities...

 and preserves potentials for adaptation
Adaptation
An adaptation in biology is a trait with a current functional role in the life history of an organism that is maintained and evolved by means of natural selection. An adaptation refers to both the current state of being adapted and to the dynamic evolutionary process that leads to the adaptation....

 and change. Monoculture
Monoculture
Monoculture is the agricultural practice of producing or growing one single crop over a wide area. It is also known as a way of farming practice of growing large stands of a single species. It is widely used in modern industrial agriculture and its implementation has allowed for large harvests from...

 is an example of such a nondiverse production system
Production system
A production system is a computer program typically used to provide some form of artificial intelligence, which consists primarily of a set of rules about behavior. These rules, termed productions, are a basic representation found useful in automated planning, expert systems and action selection...

. In a monocultural system a farmer may produce only crop
Crop
Crop may refer to:* Crop, a plant grown and harvested for agricultural use* Crop , part of the alimentary tract of some animals* Crop , a modified whip used in horseback riding or disciplining humans...

s, but no livestock, or only livestock and no crop.

The benefits of raising livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

, among others, are that it provides multiple goods, such as food, wool, hides, and transportation. It also has an important value in term of social relationships (such as gifts in wedding
Wedding
A wedding is the ceremony in which two people are united in marriage or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes...

s). In case of famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

, when crops are not sufficient to ensure food safety
Food safety
Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards....

, livestock can be used as food. Livestock may also provide manure
Manure
Manure is organic matter used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are trapped by bacteria in the soil...

, which can be used to fertilize
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

 cultivated soils, which increases soil productivity. On the other hand, in an agricultural system based only on raising livestock, food has to be bought to other farmers, and waste
Waste
Waste is unwanted or useless materials. In biology, waste is any of the many unwanted substances or toxins that are expelled from living organisms, metabolic waste; such as urea, sweat or feces. Litter is waste which has been disposed of improperly...

s produced cannot be easily disposed of.
Production has many functions, and diversity is the foundation of such production. To ignore the complex functions provided by a farm is thought by many to turn agricultural production into a commodity
Commodity
In economics, a commodity is the generic term for any marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs. Economic commodities comprise goods and services....

.

See also

  • Biodiversity
    Biodiversity
    Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

  • Green Revolution
    Green Revolution
    Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production around the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s....

  • Mechanized agriculture
  • Productivity
    Productivity
    Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of production. Productivity is a ratio of what is produced to what is required to produce it. Usually this ratio is in the form of an average, expressing the total output divided by the total input...

  • Productivity improving technologies (historical)
    Productivity improving technologies (historical)
    Productivity improving technologies date back to antiquity, with rather slow progress until the late Middle Ages. Technological progress was aided by literacy and the diffusion of knowledge that accelerated after the spinning wheel spread to Western Europe in the 13th century...

    Section 4: Mechanized agriculture, Section 6: Scientific agriculture

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