Wild grains were collected and eaten from at least 20,000 BC. Rice was domesticated in China by 6200 BC with earliest known cultivation from 5700 BC, followed by mung, soy and azuki beans. Pigs were domesticated in Mesopotamia around 11,000 BC, followed by sheep between 11,000 BC and 9000 BC. Cattle were domesticated from the wild aurochs in the areas of modern Turkey and Pakistan around 8500 BC. Sugarcane and some root vegetables were domesticated in New Guinea around 7000 BC. Sorghum was domesticated in the Sahel region of Africa by 5000 BC. In the Andes of South America, the potato was domesticated between 8000 BC and 5000 BC, along with beans, coca, llamas, alpacas, and guinea pigs. In Mesoamerica, wild teosinte was domesticated to maize by 4000 BC. Cotton was domesticated in Peru by 3600 BC. Camels were domesticated late, perhaps around 3000 BC. The Haber-Bosch process allowed the synthesis of ammonium nitrate fertilizer on an industrial scale, greatly increasing crop yields. Sheep were domesticated in Mesopotamia between 11,000 BC and 9000 BC. Cattle were domesticated from the wild aurochs in the areas of modern Turkey and Pakistan around 8500 BC. Camels were domesticated late, perhaps around 3000 BC.
At around the same time (9400 BC), parthenocarpic fig trees were domesticated. – c. 6000 BC) By 8000 BC, farming was entrenched on the banks of the Nile. About this time, agriculture was developed independently in the Far East, probably in China, with rice rather than wheat as the primary crop. Maize was domesticated from the wild grass teosinte in West Mexico by 6700 BC. The potato (8000 BC), tomato, pepper (4000 BC), squash (8000 BC) and several varieties of bean (8000 BC onwards) were domesticated in the New World. Agriculture was independently developed on the island of New Guinea. Banana cultivation of Musa acuminata, including hybridization, dates back to 5000 BC, and possibly to 8000 BC, in Papua New Guinea. Bees were kept for honey in the Middle East around 7000 BC. The horse was domesticated in the Pontic steppe around 4000 BC. In northern China, millet was domesticated by early Sino-Tibetan speakers at around 8,000 to 6,000 BC, becoming the main crop of the Yellow River basin by 5,500 BC. In the Sahel region of Africa, local rice and sorghum were domesticated by 5000 BC. In New Guinea, ancient Papuan peoples began practicing agriculture around 7000 BC, domesticating sugarcane and taro. Sumerian farmers grew the cereals barley and wheat, starting to live in villages from about 8000 BC. The first ploughs appear in pictographs from Uruk around 3000 BC; seed-ploughs that funneled seed into the ploughed furrow appear on seals around 2300 BC. Egyptians were among the first peoples to practice agriculture on a large scale, starting in the pre-dynastic period from the end of the Paleolithic into the Neolithic, between around 10,000 BC and 4000 BC. Their staple food crops were grains such as wheat and barley, alongside industrial crops such as flax and papyrus.
Jujube was domesticated in the Indian subcontinent by 9000 BC. Pastoral farming in India included threshing, planting crops in rows – Cotton was cultivated by the 5th–4th millennium BC. By the 5th millennium BC, agricultural communities became widespread in Kashmir. Irrigation was developed in the Indus Valley Civilization by around 4500 BC. Records from the Warring States, Qin dynasty, and Han dynasty provide a picture of early Chinese agriculture from the 5th century BC to 2nd century AD which included a nationwide granary system and widespread use of sericulture. The book also includes peripherally related content covering trade and culinary uses for crops. Other Mesoamerican crops include hundreds of varieties of locally domesticated squash and beans, while cocoa, also domesticated in the region, was a major crop. In the Andes region of South America, with civilizations including the Inca, the major crop was the potato, domesticated approximately 7,000–10,000 years ago. Cotton was domesticated in Peru by 3600 BC. The indigenous people of the Eastern U.S. domesticated numerous crops. Wild foods including wild rice and maple sugar were harvested. Muslim traders covered much of the Old World, and trade enabled the diffusion of many crops, plants and farming techniques across the region, as well as the adaptation of crops, plants and techniques from beyond the Islamic world. Intensive irrigation, crop rotation, and agricultural manuals were widely adopted. The Middle Ages saw further improvements in agriculture. At the same time, some farmers in Europe moved from a two field crop rotation to a three field crop rotation in which one field of three was left fallow every year. Crops included wheat, rye, barley and oats. Crop yields peaked in the 13th century, and stayed more or less steady until the 18th century. The system (wheat, turnips, barley and clover), opened up a fodder crop and grazing crop allowing livestock to be bred year-round. Mechanisation spread to other farm uses through the 19th century. It increased agriculture production around the world, especially from the late 1960s. Synthetic nitrogen, along with mined rock phosphate, pesticides and mechanization, have greatly increased crop yields in the early 20th century.
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