Agriculture, one of the oldest human occupations, is practised all over the world, using techniques ranging from the profoundly traditional to the most scientifically advanced. Without it we would starve. Yet how many of us understand what is happening in the fields that we see as we drive through the countryside? How often do we think about the origins of the food in our trolley?
In this Very Short Introduction Paul Brassley and Richard Soffe explain what farmers do and why they do it. Beginning with the most basic resource, the soil, they show why it is important, and how farmers can increase its productivity, before turning to the plants and animals that grow on it, and tracing the connections between their biology and the various ways in which farmers work with them. The authors conclude by looking at some of the controversial issues facing contemporary agriculture: its sustainability; its impact on wildlife and landscape; issues of animal welfare; and the affect of climate change and the development of genetically modified organisms on farmers.
"When YouGov-Cambridge conducted a poll in 2012 they found that 82 per cent of people have a special place in their hearts for agriculture. However the poll also revealed that only 28 per cent of people feel they know much about the sector. So congratulations to the Oxford University Press for supplying a book that explains it all."
– Mark Metcalf, Unite Landworker
Soils and crops
Feeding the food industry
Inputs into agriculture
Modern and traditional farming
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Dr. Paul Brassley studied agriculture and agricultural economics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and agricultural history at Oxford University. He worked on a variety of farms from Scotland to Devon before teaching agricultural economics and policy at the former Seale-Hayne College in Devon for over thirty years. He has researched various aspects of agricultural history from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, most recently at the University of Exeter. He is co-editor of War, Agriculture and Food: Rural Europe from the 1930s to the 1950s (Routledge, 2012), along with Y. Segers and L. Van Molle.
Richard Soffe, studied Agriculture and subsequently lectured Farm Management at Seale-Hayne College, University of Plymouth. He was awarded a Masters Degree in Management and Marketing from Cranfield University. He was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Agricultural Societies and is currently the Director of the Rural Business School at Duchy (Cornwall) College. He is the editor of The Agricultural Notebook, 20th edition (2003) and The Countryside Notebook (2005)