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Lecture 1

AGRO 1001 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Stone Age, Deciduous, Vicia

Course Code
AGRO 1001
kathryn fontenot

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AGRO 1001
Agriculture: the science or practice of farming including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops
and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products
Agronomy: the science of soil management and crop production
Such as: large scale production, lower value crops on a per acre basis, machine
Wheat, rice, corn, etc.
The science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental
Small scale production, high value crops on a per acre basis
(strawberry farm)
Hand harvested
Things planted just to be beautiful (no practical purpose)
Farming began during the Neolithic period (new stone age)
The period of human culture that began around 10,000-14,000 years ago in the Middle East
and later in other parts of the world. Characterized by the beginning of farming, the
domestication of animals, the development of crafts such as pottery and weaving, and the
making of polished stone tools.
Before this, mostly nomads and hunters –> farmers
Pottery beginning means they first started storing products
The Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia (Modern-day Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia)
Tigris and Euphrates river – needed for crops and animals
Oldest evidence of farming occurring (also china, Asia, Africa, just not as old)
First domesticated crops were all edible seeds
Wheat, barley, peas, lentils, chickpeas, bitter vetch, and flax.
All were readily storable, easy to grow and grew quickly
Why fruit? Sugar cane couldn't be grown in that zone, so figs and other fruits provided sweetness to
Figs were important because of sweetness, they were fermentable (used for medicine and
also to make alcohol), and could easily be propagated
Figs are inside out flowers – they are an accessory fruit, just like a strawberry
The tiny hard parts of strawberries are figs are the achenes
How did moving toward an agricultural based society affect earth & impact crops:
"Slash & Burn"
cut down trees
Burn land
Open areas attract wildlife
Open areas are fertile at first, but then become unfertile, and slash & burn
process begins again
Only fertile for short period? leaves that fall off trees add
nutrients back to the ground (natural matter and microbes)
which keeps it fertile, like modern day rainforest. So when you
take down trees, the land quickly becomes unfertile
Domestication of Crops:

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AGRO 1001
Natural selection: the process whereby organisms better adapted to their
environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. (somewhat like
natural genetic modification)
Hybrid: combining genes from two similar species (now people are doing this)
Increased harvest period
Disease insect resistance
Hard & Repetitive Labor:
Bones show what type of labor humans were doing during
certain periods
Chronic Disease
Population explosions – wanted more people to do
More dependance on a single crop/potentially less nutritious diet
Evidence of shorter lifespan
Evidence of higher childhood mortality
"Affluent Foragers"
Sufficient foraging so you can lead a sedentary lifestyle and
eventually a farming lifestyle
Possibly one of the first established cities
Crop storage
Accumulation of wealth
Equality to inequality
Jealousy: Slavery, domestic abuse (bc the family unit was not constantly living
together), war
What allowed agriculture to happen?
End of Ice Age – warmer climates
The need to move as populations in sedentary lifestyles became too much for
"affluent foraging"
Paleolithic period
Ice age hunters
Mesolithic period
Weather would kill crops so they weren't able to truly farm until
the Neolithic period when the earth was warmer
More stable weather
We Move Forward
Domestic crops/animals
Trade crops/animals
Top 10 plants that have shaped the world:
1. Black Pepper
Demand for this flavoring set in motion the great voyages of discovery
Used for food preservation

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AGRO 1001
Worth more than gold at one point
2. Sugarcane
New form of sweeteners ("fruit that brings forth honey without bees")
Used in very low quantities originally (teaspoon or pinch)
3. Corn
New world crop
Fresh or dried
Cornstarch, corn syrup, corn sugars, grits, etc.
Corn is in almost every food product we eat
4. Rubber
Rubber comes from the latex in the plants
Forever changed transportation
Used to waterproof
5. Cotton
Clothes made out of plants for the first time
Only linen & cotton
Caused slavery bc so many people were needed to produce it– shaped the world
6. Opium Poppy
Source of morphine and heroin
Pain relief, old medicine
First plant based drug (before that alcohol was used)
7. Tobacco
Used for religious purposes, to calm the nerves, given to soldiers
Highly addictive chemicals
8. Potato
Versatile & nutritious
Widespread blight lead to massive starvation and emigration to America
9. Coffee
Roasted beans yield a beverage long at the center of urban social life, from the London
coffeehouses of the 18th century, to the Parisian cafés of the 20th, to the Starbucks craze
of the 21st century
10. Cacao
Source of chocolate
"Theobroma" = Food of the gods
Slavery still surrounds production of this crop
Center of Origin: geographical area where a group of organisms, either domesticated or wild, first developed
distinctive properties
Nikolia Vavilov: Russian plant Botanist / Explorer
In 1920 had the idea plants have a center of origin
Reasoning: the region where the plant originated would have the most diversity bc of the wild varieties
Believed crops naturally pollinated themselves and natural selection
Studied wheat
Established large genetic collections of plant materials
Why are centers of origin important:
plant breeding
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