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Ag and Farm Terminology!

James, a 4-Her from New Hampshire utilized our website for a research project. In his search, he also found a list of agriculture terms and thought it might be a good addition to our list of accumulated recourses. James, we appreciate you! Below are definitions for common agriculture and farm terminology. It was a great idea to add these to our site, we mention a lot of them in our resources and now we will have a list to reference back to!

Acre: The standard unit of measurement for farmland. One acre is 43,560 square feet or 0.405 hectares. This is approx. the length of a football field.

Agribusiness: This encompasses the entire chain of commercial farming, from sufficient production to earning a profit up to investments and modernization of equipment to reduce costs and increase profit margins. Agribusiness is really anything related to the business of farming.

Agriculture: The practice of raising and cultivating livestock and plants. Without the development of agriculture over the millennia, society as we know it could not exist.

Agronomy: Agronomy is the science of growing and raising crops on a farm.

Aquaculture: Aquaculture is farming but in water. Aquaculture can involve raising fish in ponds or even plants grown in flooded fields or ponds.

Barn: The typical barn is a large, two-story, roofed structure used for housing animals and feed. Modern barns come in a variety of sizes and styles depending on the farmer’s needs and the type of animal they will be used for.

Bovine: Anything bovine is related to cattle or the raising of cattle.

Bushel: A bushel is the standard unit of measurement for crops. A modern dry bushel measurement is 64 pints. However, any single bundle or measurement of a dry crop or product can informally be referred to as a bushel as well.

Co-Op: A co-op, or farmer cooperative, is a group of farms and farmers working together for the mutual benefit of all members. Farming co-ops offer many benefits to members, including greater purchasing power, wider product distribution, and greater negotiating power.

Combine: Combines are large, tractor-like vehicles used for harvesting grain.

Commodity: A commodity is a crop that is traded in markets and on futures exchanges. Examples include corn, oranges, rice, and wheat.

Compost: Compost is decomposed organic matter, usually made from accumulated food scraps and other matter. Compost provides nutrients for plants and helps enrich the soil.

Contour Farming: This practice involves planting seeds at a perpendicular angle to the slope of the land to decrease soil erosion.

Cover Crop: A cover crop’s purpose is to improve and protect the soil between the plantings of the regular crop.

Crop: This can be anything grown, cultivated, and harvested on a farm. Crops can be used for animal feed or sold for profit.

Crop Rotation: The practice of planting different crops in successive seasons prevents draining the soil of vital nutrients.

Erosion: The relocation of soil by wind or water; erosion is a major problem faced by large-scale farmers. The infamous Dust Bowl of the Great Depression was caused in part by soil erosion stemming from poor farming techniques.

Ethanol: Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel derived from a number of organic sources, primarily corn.

Feed: There are three types of animal feed on a farm: roughage, concentrates, and mixes. Each type of animal will require its own specialized feed in line with its dietary needs.

Fertilizer: Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic substance or chemical applied to the soil to help provide nutrients to crops.

Fodder: Stalks, leaves, and other detritus left behind after harvest that can be used for animal feed. Fodder is an example of roughage.

Fungicide: A fungicide is a chemical used to treat fungi-infested plants and seeds. The chemical may be organic or inorganic.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO): GMO crops are those in which the plant’s DNA has been scientifically altered to produce certain characteristics, like greater fruit yield, better color, or resistance to pests.

Herbicide: A chemical applied to undesirable plants, such as weeds, to kill them. The chemical may be organic or inorganic.

Irrigation: Irrigation is providing water to fields and crops through sprinklers, hoses, or other means.

Organic: Organic crops are grown without synthetic chemicals.

Pesticide: This is a chemical that kills insects harmful to plants. The chemical may be organic or inorganic.

Silage: Silage is feed stored in an airtight silo. The feed is typically grass or other fodder material that can be used as food for the winter.

Silo: Shaped almost like a rocket on a launch pad, a silo is a large, cylindrical building for holding animal feed.

Thinning: Thinning is the process of uprooting and removing weaker plants in order to direct more sunlight and natural resources toward healthier plants.

Tillage: Tilling the soil means tearing, loosening up, and aerating the ground before planting.

***Terms and definitions came from Jeffery Nadrich with the Nadrich and Cohen website.


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