Agriculture is derived from Latin words Ager and Cultura. Ager means land or field and Cultura means cultivation. Therefore the term agriculture means cultivation of land, i.e., the science and art of producing crops and livestock for economic purposes. It is also referred as the science of producing crops and livestock from the natural resources of the earth. The primary aim of agriculture is to cause the land to produce more abundantly, and at the same time, to protect it from deterioration and misuse. It is synonymous with farming-the production of food, fodder and other industrial materials.
Definitions Agriculture is defined in the Agriculture Act 1947, as including ‘horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping, the use of land as grazing land, meadow land, osier land, market gardens and nursery grounds, and the use of land for woodlands where that use ancillary to the farming of land for Agricultural purposes”. It is also defined as ‘purposeful work through which elements in nature are harnessed to produce plants and animals to meet the human needs. It is a biological production process, which depends on the growth and development of selected plants and animals within the local environment.
Agriculture as art, science and business of crop production Agriculture is defined as the art, the science and the business of producing crops and the livestock for economic purposes. As an art, it embraces knowledge of the way to perform the operations of the farm in a skillful manner. The skill is categorized as; Physical skill: It involves the ability and capacity to carry out the operation in an efficient way for e.g., handling of farm implements, animals etc., sowing of seeds, fertilizer and pesticides application etc.
Mental skill: The farmer is able to take a decision based on experience, such as (i) time and method of ploughing, («) selection of crop and cropping system to suit soil and climate, (Hi) adopting improved farm practices etc. As a science :
It utilizes all modern technologies developed on scientific principles such as crop improvement/breeding, crop production, crop protection, economics etc., to maximize the yield and profit. For example, new crops and varieties developed by hybridization, transgenic crop varieties resistant to pests and diseases, hybrids in each crop, high fertilizer responsive varieties, water management, herbicides to control weeds, use of bio-control agents to combat pest and diseases etc.
As the business : As long as agriculture is the way of life of the rural population, production is ultimately bound to consumption. But agriculture as a business aims at maximum net return through the management of land, labour, water and capital, employing the knowledge of various sciences for production of food, feed, fibre and fuel. In recent years, agriculture is commercialized to run as a business through mechanization.