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How have farming techniques developed over the years

Food. A singular word that’ll invoke fond childhood memories and mouth-watering cravings to anyone who hears it. From staple ingredients to products steeped in family history, there’s a story behind all types of food. Their journey from the farm to the table hasn’t happened overnight. Centuries of work in the development of agricultural, horticultural, and aquacultural processes have created the modern food production landscape of today. Modern technology has also enhanced those conducting the work with increases in productivity and improved efficiencies. This has also shaped distribution and processing methods that have impacted how consumers receive the fruits of the farmer's labour.

Farming Equipment

As commercial farming has increased, technology has provided solutions to many of the growing pains experienced within the farming industry, particularly for those in the agricultural sector. With large areas of land needed for crop cultivation, and the manual labour required, technology has made farming more efficient and more productive. Tractors, combines, and harvesters significantly reduced the time required to harvest crops, increasing the viability of commercial farming. Traditional horse (pulling) power was replaced with the horsepower of an engine.

Modern technology has also enhanced the size of food-producing land and significantly reduced the costs of labour, which can cost from between 25% to 75% of a crop's value. Developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have proved to have a significant impact in reducing labour costs throughout the agricultural industry. Autonomous tractors are carrying out instructions with little to no human intervention, and predictive analytics are being used to predict crop yields using algorithms and data.


Throughout human history, there have been over 30,000 edible plant species discovered. Yet only about 6,000-7,000 of these plant species are cultivated for consumption, with only approximately 170 grown on a commercial scale. Why? Many indigenous crops like Kumara and Jackfruit are typically low yielding, come from small geographical areas or are poorly researched, thus limiting their commercial viability. However, crops like the soybean and sugar-beet have become widespread thanks to the increase in discovered uses. Soybeans are now being used widely as milk and meat substitutes in vegan and vegetarian diets. Whilst sugar-beets have emerged as an alternative to cane sugar.

Technological developments have also played their part in crop developments. Continued research into breeding has also led to new genetic variations of crops and cattle better suited to adapt to the changing climates in various regions of the world. It's also led to the development of both drought and pest resistant crops that have increased the survivability and longevity of crops. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have also been developed as ways of increasing crop yields and in some cases have led to animals, like salmon, being engineered to grow larger and mature faster.

Farming Techniques

A lot of today's farming techniques are a result of centuries worth of continued development and exploration. Some aren't necessarily new discoveries but have become more widely adopted in regions outside the origins of the technique. For example, the practice of turning hills into farmlands by constructing ridged platforms, known as terracing, has been around for thousands of years in Peru and the Philippines. However, countries like Colombia and Brazil have only recently adopted this technique. Other techniques like dry farming and the use of irrigation have also been around for centuries, however as the climate continues to change, new ways of using these old techniques continue to be discovered.

Even though staple commercial crops may be grown more widely around the world, they'll never just be the same. The unique and diverse nature of each region has added to the rich history of the farming industry. Food isn't just food. There's a story behind it all. One that celebrates the labour of love that goes into every step of the journey from the farm to the table. This theme will be explored in our next piece, with an in-depth look at how technology has enhanced the work of those on the farms.

Published Date:

March 4, 2022

Read Time:

4 minutes


Team Tidy