The foundation and growth of human civilization can be traced back to the development of agriculture. As agriculture spread and thrived, so did civilizations around the world. Learn more about agriculture with the following resources.

The History of Agriculture

This site is an interactive timeline that explores the history of agriculture over the last 3 million years. The timeline includes the pre-agricultural times and civilizations, the development of agriculture around the world, and the Industrial Revolution and its effect on agriculture.

Story of Farming
This article provides an in-depth look at the history of agriculture over the last 10,000 years. The site is interactive and allows visitors to explore farm tools, agricultural societies, and /images of various farm implements.

Growing a Nation
This site looks more specifically at the history of American agriculture after the arrival of Europeans. The site can be explored either by category or by time period.

This article discusses, specifically, the Agricultural Revolution in England between the years 1500 and 1850. It deals with common misconceptions about this time period and explains the need for the revolution. It also provides a bibliography of additional resources on the same topic.

History of Horticulture
Purdue University provides an impressive and comprehensive 42-part lecture series on the history of agriculture. The series is available for free in video and text format or as a PowerPoint presentation. All aspects of agricultural history are referenced.

Types of Agriculture

There are many different forms of agriculture. Some farmers cultivate food crops such as wheat or soybeans, while others grow cash crops such as tobacco or cotton. A few of the more unusual forms of agriculture are listed below.

Aquaculture is the practice of raising aquatic life for the purpose of sale. The Oceanic Institute has compiled a more comprehensive explanation, as well as a brief history of the business and an outline of how aquaculture is practiced today.

Apiculture, also known as beekeeping, is the practice of raising bees in order to harvest their products, such as honey and beeswax—or for the services they can provide, such as pollination. The National Sustainable Agriculture Project provides a thorough introduction to this type of agriculture.

Forestry, sometimes called tree farming, is the practice of tending and harvesting timber for a variety of commercial purposes. The uses of timber include the production of lumber, furniture, and paper products. The American Tree Farm System has an excellent explanation of the responsibilities and challenges facing tree farmers. It also has resources for those interested in getting started in the industry.

Sericulture is the cultivation of silkworms to produce silk. This form of agriculture has been developing for thousands of years and has a rich history, which is related at

The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University sponsors a 4-H Club website with a section that offers virtual tours of a variety of farm types, such as poultry, dairy, horse, and wheat farms. These tours provide in-depth information about each industry.

Agricultural Equipment

Early Farm Tools
This site offers a nice selection of information and /images on a variety of historical farm tools, including those that were hand-held and those that were larger, but still manually operated.

Ancient and Medieval Farming
This article, written for kids, provides an easy-to-understand explanation of ancient agriculture. It includes /images of many of the types of equipment used by early farmers.

The variety of agricultural equipment used today is staggering. The National Farm Machinery Show has a yearly demonstration that displays the future of farming equipment.

The Importance of Agriculture and Food Safety

In this article, the European Food Information Council discusses the importance of agriculture, its safety risks, and the safety measures that govern food production.

The Importance of Agriculture to the UK
This article by UK Agriculture highlights how agriculture has influenced the United Kingdom in the past, and explains how it is practiced safely today.

Environmental Cost of Shipping Groceries
This New York Times article discusses how transporting agricultural products around the world impacts the environment.
This website shares information on current U.S. laws relating to food, as well as news of safety alerts. It provides several channels for reader participation, including pages for readers who want to ask questions, comment on articles, and report food safety concerns.

Food Safety and Inspection Service
This government agency is tasked with ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply. Its website offers detailed information on its efforts, as well as resources for consumers.

Agricultural Trade

The National Agricultural Law Center
This website provides information about bills, court decisions, and federal laws and regulations relating to agriculture.

United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
This is the website of the committee tasked with creating the farm bills that directly affect the way agriculture develops in America.

World Trade Organization and Globalization Help Facilitate Growth
This article from Amber Waves explains how the World Trade Organization has encouraged growth in global agricultural trade.

Imported Foods
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers an extensive list of resources about importing food. This information covers food supply, regulations, and various rules and procedures. The agency also runs a similar information site about exporting food products.

Exploring the history of agriculture is a powerful way to learn more about human societies, both past and present. In the past, the efficiency of a civilization's food production system largely determined whether that society thrived or declined. It is clear that effective agriculture will be equally important to future generations.

About the Author

Adrian Ludwig is a senior account executive at Crest Capital, where he captures incremental online sales typically lost by standard vendor finance programs. Adrian works in nearly every industry vertical, providing leases and loans for equipment, vehicles, and software. Check out his most popular piece: The Difference Between Good Debt and Bad Debt.