Growing our Food
People have been growing crops since the beginning of time. As people travelled from one continent to another, they took seeds with them so that they could grow food. The early settlers knew that they needed to be able to grow their own food if they wanted to survive.
Today, farmers know much more about growing crops than they did then. There is a lot of science and technology used in farming today. Growing grain the farmer needs to know:
1. What kind of crops are best suited to the climate and soil conditions where they live
2. How to prepare the land to create the best growing conditions
3. How to grow, harvest and store the crops
4. How to control weeds, crop diseases and pests
5. How to get the crop to market at the best price
Three quarters of the worlds population rely on grain products as an important food source. Grains are considered to be the oldest kind of crop. Most grains are essentially grasses and are grown for their seeds. Some of the most common you probably already know such as corn, wheat, rice, barley, oats and rye. Grains are usually used for human consumption, but are also used to feed animals. More recently, crops such as corn have been used for the production of ethanol.
Farmers today depend more and more on science and technology to produce as much as possible from their land. They study the soil to be sure it is right for the crops they plan to grow. A farmer tests his soil and uses chemicals and minerals to fix a problem or to add things that might be missing from it.
All crops need water to grow. A good farmer grows crops that use the water that is naturally available. Crops might use a combination of rainfall and irrigation. A farmer wouldn’t grow a crop that needs a lot of water in a place where it never rains. He wouldn’t plant a crop that needs to be drier on land that is prone to flooding or doesn’t drain rainwater well.
Farmers also have to watch for pests and diseases that affect the size or the quality of the crop. The farmer has to know what is ruining the crop and what to do about it. This might mean putting just the right pesticide on it, or grow a variety that is resistant to certain diseases. Farmers use scientists and agricultural experts to help them figure these things out.
Sometimes birds and or mice will eat the seeds or plants either while it is in the field growing or while it is in storage after harvest. It is estimated that as much as ten percent of the worlds crops of grain are eaten by pests while in storage !!
Have you ever seen a scarecrow in a field and wondered what it was for?