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Agriculture Terms & Definitions

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agriculture terms

This glossary contains general definitions of agriculture terms related to agricultural ecosystem, production, the environment, sustainable development, organisms or species, the harvested parts, or the harvest in a more refined state.

These agricultural terms were chosen to increase awareness of major agricultural aspects for the nonspecialist and were drawn from various social and natural science disciplines, including ecology, biology, epidemiology, chemistry, sociology, economics, anthropology, philosophy, and public health.

Agriculture Terms and Their Definitions

There are many terms related to different aspects of agriculture that may not be known to those who have not been involved in farming or have very little knowledge. Below, we have defined some common terms and acronyms that are used in agriculture:


Acid Soil: A soil with an acid reaction, a pH less than 7.0.


Acre: A parcel of land, containing 4,840 square yards or 43,560 square feet.

Agriculture: The utilization of biological processes on farms to produce food and other products useful and necessary to man. Both a “way of life” and a “means of life” for the people involved in this industry.

Agribusiness: a way of farming that combines agriculture and business and usually involves large amounts of land, animals, and expensive technology.

Agricultural Buildings: From the barn to the farm, agricultural buildings constitute any structures associated with farming or agriculture. Buildings that provide housing for livestock, shelter for plants, or even a structure such as a dam are all considered agricultural buildings.


Agriculture Extension Service: Cooperative (Federal, State, and County) agency doing research and education for rural and urban producer and consumer groups, located in each county with specialist personnel for each particular area.


Agricultural Erosion & Sedimentation Control Plan (Ag. E&S Plan): A site-specific plan identifying Best Management Practices to minimize accelerated erosion from agricultural runoff of plowing and tilling activities (Including No-Till) and Animal Heavy Use Areas.


Agricultural Establishments: An agricultural establishment is defined as a “human establishment for the purpose of agriculture.” These establishments can include agricultural cooperatives, farms, orchards, and even wineries.


Agroecosystem: It includes the terms “agro,” which refers to agriculture, and “ecosystem,” which is defined as a community of interacting organisms.  So put them together and what you get is a community of plants and animals. Agroecosystems can be found in everything from farmlands to rangelands.

Agroforestry: On a basic level, agroforestry is defined as “trees on farms.” In actuality, agroforestry involves trees and shrubs being combined with crops and livestock to make for a more productive, healthy, and sustainable-use land system.

Agronomy: The science of crop production and soil management.

Alfalfa: A valuable leguminous crop for forage or hay used in livestock.

Animal Concentration Area (ACA): Barnyards, feedlots, loafing areas, exercise lots or other similar animal confinement areas that will not maintain a growing crop, or where deposited manure nitrogen is in excess of crop needs.

  • This excludes areas managed as pastures or other cropland
  • This excludes pasture access ways if they do not cause a direct flow of nutrients to surface water.

Animal Equivalent Unit (AEU): One thousand pounds of live weight of livestock or poultry animals, on an annualized basis, regardless of the actual number of individual animals in the unit.

Animal Equivalent Unit per Acre (AEU per acre): An animal equivalent unit per acre of cropland or acre of land suitable for the application of animal manure.

Animal Heavy Use Area (AHUA): Barnyard, feedlot, loafing area, exercise lot, or other similar areas on an agricultural operation where, because of the concentration of animals, it is not possible to establish and maintain the vegetative cover of a density capable of minimizing accelerated erosion and sedimentation by usual planting methods.

Animal Unit: A unit of measurement of livestock, the equivalent of one mature cow weighing 1,000 lbs. The measure is used in making comparisons of feed consumption. Five mature ewes also are considered an animal unit.

Annual: A plant that completes its life cycle from seed to plant, flower, and new seed in 1 year or less.

Apiary: Colonies of bees in hives and other beekeeping equipment for the production of honey.

Arable land

Arable land: Basically farmland. Broadly, it can refer to any land capable of growing crops; in a narrower definition, especially for the purpose of agricultural statistics, it is land currently being used for crops (even if temporarily fallow).

Artificial Insemination: The mechanical injection of male semen into the womb of the female with a special syringe-like apparatus. The process begins with the collection of semen from the male. This method is used extensively in dairy husbandry.

Auger: Spiral device on a shaft used to move grain through a tube.

Avian: Pertaining to poultry and/or fowl.

Read More: 20 Branches of Agriculture and Related Fields | Detailed


Balance Ration: A ration that furnishes all the necessary nutrients in the proportions and amounts needed by the animal for normal functioning and growth.

Baseline Compliance: Generally considered to be when a farm or livestock operation is in compliance with Pennsylvania’s Erosion and Manure regulations for agriculture.

Best Management Practice (BMP): A practice or combination of practices determined to be practical and effective at managing nutrients and sediment to protect surface water and groundwater while taking into account the applicable nutrient requirements for crop utilization.

Biofumigation: The biofumigation method relies on biocidal properties in natural fumigants to eliminate soil-borne pests. These fumigants can come from organisms such as glucosinate-containing plants. Abiofumigant can also be a plant that contains inhibitory chemicals.

Biopesticides: Biopesticides, like agroecosystems, encompass two terms: “bio,” which refers to biological, and “pesticides,” Which refers to substances that eliminate insects and other pests. Biopesticides refer to multiple types of pest management control, including but not limited to, predatory, parasitic, or chemical.

Biomass Crops

Biomass Crops: Biomass is biological material that comes from living organisms, usually from plants or plant-derived materials. Biomass crops are the plants that are put toward the production of this biomass. Plants grown for this purpose include miscanthus, switchgrass, corn, poplar, willow, sorghum, sugarcane, or bamboo.

Bloating: Abnormal swelling of the abdomen of livestock, caused by an excessive gas formation which can result in death.

Boar: A breeding male hog, any age.

Breed: A group of animals descended from common ancestry and possessing certain inherited characteristics which distinguish it from any other group. When matings within the breed are made, these characteristics are transmitted to the offspring in a uniform and predictable manner.

Breeds of Beef Cattle:

  • English Origin: Aberdeen Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn
  • European Origin: Charolais, Chianina, Gelbvieh, Limousin, Maine Anjou, Simmental
  • Asian Origin: Brahma.
  • United States Developed: Brangus, Beefmaster, Santa Gertrudis, Red Angus.

Broadcasting: Random scattering of seeds over the surface of the ground. If the seed is to be covered, this is done as a separate operation, usually with a spike-tooth harrow.

Broiler: A chicken of either sex about 7 weeks of age.

Bushel: A unit of dry measure (1 cubic foot) for grain, fruit, etc., equivalent to 8 gallons of liquid. Weight varies with the density/bulk of the commodity. Example: Oats weighs 32 lbs. Per bu.; barley, 46 lbs. Per bu.; and corn, 56 lbs, Per bu.

Read More: Career Opportunities In Agriculture Science


Calf: Young (up to yearling or sexual maturity) animal of the bovine species.

Catch Crop: A catch crop is a very fast-growing plant. In fact, a catch crop, such as radish, can be grown in 25–30 days. Catch crops are planted between rows of main crops that are cultivated long-term, resulting in a kind of succession planting.

Cash Crop: Any crop that is sold off the farm to yield ready cash.

Certified Seed

Certified Seed: Seed grown from pure stock which meets the standards of certifying agency (usually a state government agency). Certification is based on germination, freedom from weeds and disease, and trueness to variety.

Cellulose: Component of plant cell walls that is not digestible by most animals.

Census of Agriculture: The Census of Agriculture measures the number of farms, crop acreage and production, livestock numbers and production, farm expenses and facilities, farm tenure, the value of farm products sold, farm size, type of farm, and demographics of those working in agriculture. The census is sent out every five years.

Cob: The large round mass of an ear of corn where kernels grow.

Complete Fertilizer: A fertilizer containing the three macronutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium) in sufficient amounts to sustain plant growth.

Compost: Organic residues, or a mixture of organic residues and soil which have been piled, moistened, and allowed to undergo biological decomposition. Mineral fertilizers are sometimes added.

Commodity: An agricultural good.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO): A farm where large numbers of livestock or poultry are housed inside buildings or in confined feedlots.

Concentrated Animal Operation (CAO): Agricultural Operations with eight or more Animal Equivalent Units, where the animal density exceeds two Animal Equivalent Units per acre on an annualized basis.

Conservation Plan: A plan that identifies conservation practices and includes site-specific Best Management Practices, which minimize the potential for accelerated erosion and sedimentation, for agricultural plowing or tilling activities (Including No-Till) and Animal Heavy Use Areas.

Conservation Plan: Plans and practices meant to retain soil health.

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP): Voluntary program through U.S. Department of Agriculture that offers rent payments to farmers who use practices to save soil, which in turn provides wildlife habitat and can improve water quality.

Confinement: Livestock kept in “dry-lot” for maximum year-round production. Facilities may be partial or complete solid floored and enclosed/covered.

Controlled Lighting: Artificial lighting of poultry housing. Increasing or decreasing the number of hours of light during the day will control sexual maturity, fertility, and molt.

Contour Farming: Planting at right angles to the natural slope to cut soil erosion.

Contract Feeder: Those who raise livestock, hogs for example, which are owned by someone else, often a corporation.

Cooperative: An organization formed for the purpose of production and marketing of goods or products owned collectively by members who share in the benefits. Most common examples in agriculture are canneries and creameries.

Corn Ears: The part of a corn plant containing the corn cob, husk, and kernels.

Corn Husk: The leaf-like layer on the outside of corn ears, also known as a “shuck”.

Crop Rotation: More or less regular recurrent succession of different crops on the same land for the purpose of maintaining good yields.

Cultivate: To improve the land by plowing and fertilizing.

Crops: A crop is defined as a plant that’s grown in significant quantities. Crops can range from wheat to soybeans to cotton. In fact, a crop can be any plant that’s harvested as food, used for livestock fodder, or applied to any other economic purpose.

CWT: Hundredweight or 100 pounds.

Read More: Early Animal Agriculture And The Neolithic Revolution


Dead Wood: Deadwood plays a vital role in agriculture by providing recycled nutrients to the forest in which trees have fallen, acting as natural fertilization. Deadwood usually consists of dead branches or completely dead standing trees resulting from logging or natural processes.

Dead Hedge: Often used in habitat conservation or restoration ecology, a dead hedge is essentially a barrier created from dead, fallen, or cut branches, saplings, and foliage. Dead hedges are useful for the protection of small animals, such as birds, and they can also be used in biological pest control programs.

Degree Day: A degree day is a measurement used to plan crop planting and the management of pests and pest control timing. Degree days can also be found in the weekly and monthly figure range for energy monitoring and targeting schemes.

Domesticate: To tame and breed for human use.

Double Crop

Domesticated Plants and Animals: Domesticated plants are any plants that are cultivated or tamed for domestic use. Usually, the purpose of this domestication is for food, raw materials, or healing. Domestication of animals is generally used for the same purpose. For instance, beekeeping yields honey, while pigs contribute heart valve replacements for humans.

Double Crop: Two different crops grown in the same area in one growing season.

Drainage: The removal of excess surface water or excess water from within the soil by means of surface or sub-surface drains.

Drilling: The process of opening the soil to receive the seed, planting the seed, and covering it in a single operation.

Dry Cow: A cow that is not producing milk, the period before the next calving and lactation.

Dry Land Farming: The practice of crop production without irrigation.

Read More: Facts About Agriculture | Historical Facts


Earthing Up: Earthing up can also be referred to as hilling or ridging. It’s defined as the technique in agriculture and horticulture that promotes further growth of a plant that would otherwise be finished growing naturally. Earthing up involves piling soil up along the base of a plant that has already broken through the ground to help continue growth.

Earsh: Earsh is an old English word mainly used in the South and West of England to describe a stubble field. Grain crops such as wheat, barley, or rye are harvested and a short earsh or stock is left behind.

Ecology: The study of the environment and how living things interact with it.

Ecosystem: A community of living and non-living things that interact by exchanging matter and energy.

Environment: Physical surroundings; all that is around you.

Enzymes: Proteins that start a chemical reaction.

Erosion: The wearing away of the land surface, usually by running water or wind.

Excrete: To get rid of waste, such as manure.

Expense: Cost or charge of the money.

Extension Agency: An outreach arm of an agricultural university that provides educational programs on farming and does research.


Farm Bureau: A non-governmental political agency that works for farmers’ rights.

Feed Lots:

  1. Dry Lot Feeding: Feeding process wherein cattle are confined in a small area and fed carefully mixed, high-concentrate feed to fatten them.
  2. Farm Feed Lot: Where cattle feeding is complementary with other farming enterprises. Commercial Where cattle are fed for others on a custom basis.
  3. Feed Lot: Purchased, labor is hired.

Fertilizer: Organic or inorganic nutrients that are added to the soil to help the growth of crops.

Fertilization: The union of pollen with an egg to form an embryo.

FFA: Future Farmers of America: an organization for high school students studying vocational agriculture.

4-H: Club for boys and girls sponsored by the Agricultural Extension Service to foster better agriculture and homemaking. The 4-H’s stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. Members are 9 to 19 years of age.

Field Capacity: The moisture content of the soil in the field as measured two or three days after a thorough wetting of a well-drained soil by rain or irrigation water.

Forage: Vegetable matter, fresh or preserved, which is gathered and fed to animals as roughage (e.g., alfalfa hay, corn silage, or other hay crops).

Forested Riparian Buffer: A permanent area of dense woody perennial vegetation, which includes trees and shrubs, established parallel to a stream, river, creek, lake, wetland, or sinkhole. The purpose of which is to provide habitat, and minimize the amount of nutrients and sediment that enter the water resources through filtration.

Read More: Types of Crops | Classification and Basics of Agriculture


Gelding: A male horse that has been castrated before having reached sexual maturity.


  • Angora Breed: Kept for meat and mohair products and grazing brushy areas of the range.
  • Dairy Breeds: Kept for milk products primarily, also meat. American Lamoncha, French Alpine, Nubian, Saanen, and Toggenburg.
  • Buck: Male Goat.
  • Chevon: Meat from young goats.
  • Doe: female goat.
  • Kid: Young, immature goat, either sex.
  • Kidding: Parturition of the pregnant female goat.

Grade: An animal of common or mixed breeding; an animal that is not purebred. Such an animal is ineligible for registration though it usually exhibits some purebred characteristics.

  1. Quality Grades for Beef-based on conformation, finish, and quality:
  • US Prime US Commercial
  • US Choice US Utility
  • US Good US Cutter
  • US Standard US Canner
  1. Yield Grades for Beef- based on the expected yield (curability) of trimmed, boneless major retail cuts:
  • YG 1 (best) YG 4
  • YG 2 YG 5 (poorest)
  • YG 3
  1. Quality Grades for lamb are US Prime, US Choice, US Good, US Utility, and US Cull.
  • Yield Grades for lamb are the same as for beef.
  1. Yield Grades for lamb are the same as for beef.
  2. USDA Grades for slaughter hogs and pork carcasses combine Quality and Yield into one designated grade.
  • These are US 1, US 2, US 3, US 4, and Utility.

Grade A Dairy: A dairy that produces market milk (for human drinking purposes) under state-approved sanitation conditions according to state-controlled pooling laws. Milking barn and milk-handling equipment must meet certain state regulations.

Grade B Dairy: A dairy that produces milk for use in making cheese, ice cream, and condensed and powdered milk. Sanitation requirements are not as strict as for Grade A production. The milk cannot be sold for fresh market consumption.

Grass: A type of plant with jointed stems, slender flat leaves, and spike-like flowers such as corn and wheat.

Gravitational Water: Water that either runs off or percolates through the soil. Not available for use by plants.

Green Manure: Any crop or plant grown and plowed under to improve the soil, by addition of organic matter and the subsequent release of plant nutrients, especially nitrogen.


Harrowing: Seems to be more like cutting or scraping the soil, and is used for multiple purposes including, I believe, preparing the seedbed.


Harvest: To gather a crop when it is finished growing.

Heifer: Young (less than 3 years) female of the cattle species that has not borne a calf.

Herbivore: Animals that eat plant origin feeds only.

Horizontal Integration: The combining of two or more similar functions under one decision-making body. A farmer who acquires and manages another farm as a separate unit and a canner that builds or acquires a cannery in another area are examples of horizontal integration.

Humus: The well decomposed, relatively stable portion of the organic matter in the soil.

Hybrid: An offspring of two animals or plants that are of different breeds, varieties or species.

Hydroponics: Growing of plants in water containing the essential growth elements. This process is being used in “glass” houses for intensive “off-season” production of vegetables.


Income: A gain in money usually as a result of business or labor.

Incubation: A process of holding eggs under controlled conditions of heat and moisture permitting the fertile eggs to hatch. Chicks require 21 days and turkeys 28 days to hatch.

Inputs: The amount of energy and money put into a farm in order to make a product.

Integration: Control by a single organization of all or some of the various stages of production.

Intensive grazing: The practice of rotating livestock between pastures to reduce overgrazing.

Insecticide: A type of pesticide that kills insects.

Read More: List of Agriculture Institutes and Academic Programs in Pakistan


Kernel: The seed of a grain plant.


Lactation Period: The length of time a female gives milk following the birth of offspring-usually with reference to dairy cows and milk goats.

Land Classification: The classification of units of land for the purpose of grouping soil of similar characteristics, in some cases showing their relative suitability for some specific use.

Layer: A female chicken producing eggs regularly. A good layer should produce between 19 and 20 dozen eggs in 12 months.

Leaching: The process of removal of soluble materials by the passage of water through the soil.

Legumes: A type of plant which has nodules formed by bacteria on its roots. The bacteria that compose these nodules take nitrogen from the air and pass it on to the plant for the plant to use.

Some legumes are alfalfa, soybeans, sweet clover, and peanuts.

Litter: A group of offspring born at the same time by one sow.

Livestock: Any domestic animal produced or kept primarily for farm, ranch, or market purposes, including beef and dairy cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, and horses.


Manure: Generally, the refuse from stables and barnyards including both animal excreta and straw or other litter.

Manure Management Plan: A site-specific plan that is written in accordance with the Manure Management Manual for any operation that generates OR spreads livestock or poultry manure.

Manure Application

Manure Application Setback: A Best Management Practice that applies manure application on cropland at a specified distance from streams, lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks, wetlands, or sinkholes to protect water quality.

Mare: Mature female horse.

Marginal Land: Land almost too unproductive to be farmed profitably.

Mastitis: A disease of the cow’s udder resulting from infection by microorganisms. The infection may be caused by improper milking procedures.

Monoculture: Planting the same crop in a field year after year with no crop rotation.

Milk (average composition): Milk contains on the average, the following: Fat-3.9%; Albumin- .7%; Casin-2.5%; Lactose-5.1%; Mineral matter-.7%; and Water-87.1%.

Read More: Advantages And Disadvantages Of Regenerative Agriculture


Nematode: Soil worms of microscopic size. These organisms may attack the root or other structures of plants and cause extensive damage.

Nitrogen Cycle: The sequence of transformations undergone by nitrogen in its movement from the free atmosphere into and through soils, into the plants, and eventually back. These biochemical reactions are largely involved in the growth and metabolism of plants and microorganisms.

Nutrient: A chemical element or compound that is essential for normal body metabolism, growth, and production. Includes carbohydrates fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Nutrient Management Plan (NMP): A written site-specific plan which meets the requirements of Act 38 to protect water quality and minimize nutrient loss from agricultural sources.

Nutrient Balance Sheet (NBS): A crop management Best Management Practice developed to protect surface and groundwater quality by providing the calculations for determining the appropriate rate, method, and timing of manure that can be applied to cropland, hayland, and pasture, to meet the purposes of a Nutrient Management Plan.


Odor Management Plan (OMP): A site-specific plan to control building and manure storage odors for those operations that are a Concentrated Animal Operation under Act 38.

Offspring: The progeny of parents.

Omnivore: Animals that eat both animal and plant origin feeds.

Organic Fertilizer: Any fertilizer material containing plant nutrients in combination with carbon.

Organic Farming: Producing foods without the use of laboratory-made fertilizers, growth substances, or pesticides.

Organic Matter: The dead plants, animals, and manure converted by earthworms and bacteria into humus


Pasture and meadow: Both fields where grass and similar plants are grown to feed livestock.

Pasteurization: A process of treatment of milk through heat that kills all harmful bacteria, without changing its physical or chemical composition.

Permanent Wilting Point: That point at which a plant is dried so badly that even though put into a humid atmosphere and watered, it will no longer recover.

Pest: Any organism injuring plants or plant products.

Pesticide: A substance that kills any pest, including insects, fungi, and weeds.

pH: A scale of measurement by which the acidity or alkalinity of soil or water is rated. A pH of 6 to 7.5 is considered “ideal” for most agricultural crops. Each plant (specie-type), however, has its own “ideal” pH range.

1 to 6 — 7 — 8 to 14

Acid Range — Neutral — Alkali Range

Photosynthesis: The process by which green plants use light energy from the sun to produce sugar from water and the air.

Phosphorous Index (P-Index): The field evaluation method specifically used for a Nutrient Management Plan which combines sources and phosphorous transport to identify areas that have a high vulnerability or risk of phosphorous loss to surface waters. This evaluation method provides direction on Best Management Practices to address the land application of phosphorous-containing nutrient sources to protect water quality.

Pig: A young swine weighing less than 120 pounds.

Plowing: Specifically refers to taking the top layer of the soil and turning it over, flipping it upside down.

Pollen: The male germ cells.


Pollination: The transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma.

Pomology: the science or study of growing fruit.

Poult: A young turkey.

Poultry: Domestic birds raised for eggs and meat.

Precooling: The process in which loads of fruit or vegetables are rapidly cooled prior to loading for shipment.

Productive Soil: A soil in which the chemical, physical, and biological conditions are favorable for the economic production of the crops suited to a particular area.

Pullet: A female chicken less than 1-year-old.

Read More: What Is Regenerative Agriculture? How It Works And Climate Connection


Rendering plant: A place where lard, tallow, and oil are extracted from animal parts.

Rhizobium: Bacteria living in nodules on the roots of leguminous plants that are capable of removing nitrogen from the air and soil “fixing” it into forms that plants utilize for growth.

Rhizome: A subterranean stem, usually rooting at the nodes and rising at the apex; a rootstock.

Riparian Buffer: A permanent strip of dense perennial vegetation established parallel to a stream, river, creek, lake, wetland, or sinkhole. The purpose of which is to provide habitat, and minimize the number of nutrients and sediment enter the water resources by filtering and utilizing them.

Roaster: A young meat bird, 12 to 16 weeks old weighing 4 to 6 pounds, used for pan roasting.

Roasting Pig: A milk-fat pig weighing from 60 to 100 pounds.

Rotation: The changing of the specific fields used for one crop year to year.

Row Dividers: The large points on the end of a combine used to pick up corn.

Rooster: A mature male chicken.

Roughage: Feeds high in fiber, low in total digestible nutrients as hay and silage; the complete forage plant, including the stalk, stem, leaf, and (if mature) the seed.

Ruminants: Animals having a stomach with four compartments (rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum). Their digestive process is more complex, therefore than that of animals having a true stomach. Some commonly known ruminants are cattle, sheep, and goats; an example of a true stomach animal is the pig.


Saturate: To fill all of the openings among soil particles with liquid.

Sheet Erosion: The gradual, uniform removal by the water of the earth’s surface, without the formation of hills or gullies.

Silage: Prepared by chopping green forage (grass, legumes, field corn, etc.) Into an airtight chamber, where it is compressed to exclude air and undergoes an acid fermentation that retards spoilage. Contains about 65 percent moisture; 3 lbs. Of silage is equal to 1 lb. Of hay nutritionally.

Slaughterhouse: A place where animals marketed for meat arc killed humanely.

Sodbuster: Part of the Food Security Act of 1985 designed to discourage cropping on highly erodible land.

Soil Conservation

Soil Conservation: Careful preservation or protection of soil.

Soil Horizon: A layer of soil material approximately parallel to the land surface which differs from adjacent genetically related layers in color, structure, texture, or consistency. It also differs in biological and chemical characteristics.

Soil Map: A map designed to show the distribution of soil types or other soil-mapping units in relation to the prominent physical and cultural features of the earth’s surface.

Soil-Moisture Tensiometer: An instrument that measures the tension with which water is held by the soil. The instrument can be used for estimating when to irrigate land and for detecting drainage problems.

Soil Reaction: The degree of acidity or alkalinity of soil is usually expressed in terms of pH value.

Soil Series: A grouping of soils that have developed from a particular kind of parent material and which are similar in all characteristics except texture of the surface layer. The soil series is one of the principal units of soil classification.

Soil Structure: Refers to bonding together of soil particles and the resulting configuration of solids and voids.

Soil Survey: The systematic examination, description, classification, and mapping of soils in an area.

Soil Texture: Refers to the coarseness or fineness of soil. It is determined by the relative proportion of various sized particles (sand, silt, and clay) in soil.

Soil Type: A finer subdivision of a soil series. It includes all soils of a series that are similar in all characteristics, including the texture of the surface layer.

Species: One kind of plant.

Sow: Mature female hog.

Stormwater: Runoff from the surface of the land resulting from rain, snow, or ice melt.

Strip Cropping: Growing crops in long narrow strips across a sope approximately on a line of contour, alternating dense-growing intertilled crops. This is sometimes done with crops grown under government acreage allotments in order to increase yields per acre since the intertilled area is not included in the allotment. It is also done in some dryland areas to conserve moisture and reduce the hazards of wind erosion.

Subsoiling: Breaking of compact subsoils without inverting them. This is done with a special narrow cultivator shovel or chisel, which is pulled through the soil at a depth from 12 to 24 inches and at spacings from 2 to 5 feet.

Summer Fallow: Land plowed up (usually in spring) and left unseeded through the summer. This is done to let the land air out and rest until fall when it is worked up and planted to a crop of grain. May also be done to break down organic matter or kill weeds.

Sustainable Agriculture: Systems that seek to grow crops and livestock while protecting the environment and using resources efficiently.

Read More: The Agricultural Revolution: Start of Unprecedented Increase In Agriculture


Terminal Market: A metropolitan market that handles all agricultural commodities. The San Francisco Wholesale Produce and Fruit Market is an example.

Tilling: The most general term refers to any mechanical agitation of the soil. Plowing and harrowing are types of tilling.

Top Dressing: Lime, fertilizer, or manure applied after the seedbed is ready, or after the plants are up.

Topsoil: The layer of soil used for cultivation, which usually contains more organic matter than underlying materials.

Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN): The sum of all nutrients in a feed that is digested by the animal.

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL): A pollutant’s maximum allowable amount for any water body that is determined to be not meeting minimum water quality standards, also known as impaired. This sets the maximum average daily limit for the pollutant from which the water body is impaired, such as nutrients or sediment. The TMDL takes the form of a written document, and then a Watershed Implementation Plan can be developed to restore the water body.

Total Mixed Ration: A feed combination of hay, corn, barley, field grasses, cotton seed, and bakery or grocery by-products

Transportation: The loss of water vapor from the leaves and stems of living plants to the atmosphere.


UNCED: United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

UNDP: United Nations Development Programme.

UNEP: United Nations Environment Programme.

Unequal Exchange: A pattern describing trade relations between two or more countries when one country benefits more than another.

Uneven development: The tendency for some areas of a country or region to prosper, while other areas stagnate.

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development: The Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992.

United Nations Development Programme: A program with the stated purpose of enhancing development worldwide.

United Nations Environment Programme: A program conceived at the 1972 Stockholm Conference with the purpose of raising environmental consciousness on a global level.

Urbanization: The process by which an increasing share of the population of a country lives in cities.

USDA: United States Department of Agriculture, a Federal agency involved in all phases of agriculture.

Read More: What Is Regenerative Agriculture? How It Works And Climate Connection


Value Added: A means of increasing the value of agricultural commodities by improvements (e.g., breeding wheat with high protein content) or processing (e.g., grinding wheat into flour).

Variety: A group of individuals within a species that differs from the rest of the species.

Vegetarian: A person who does not eat meat.

Vertical Farming

Vertical Farming: The practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers, usually indoors as a type of controlled-environment agriculture and by incorporating soilless farming techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics.

Vertical Integration: The combining of two or more successive steps in the production, processing, and distributing processes under a single decision-making body. A canner that produces some of his own raw product, a group of farmers which acquires a cannery or a cotton gin, or a feed company that owns the poultry are all examples of vertical integration.

Viticulture: The science and practice of vine growing: grape growing.

Volunteer: Any plant, especially a feral crop plant or crop descendant, that grows in an agricultural field or garden unintentionally, rather than by deliberate planting by a farmer or gardener. Volunteers often grow from seeds that have been dispersed by the wind or animals or inadvertently mixed into compost. Unlike weeds, volunteers are not necessarily unwanted, and may even be encouraged to grow, especially if they show desirable characteristics that can be selected to produce new cultivars.


Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP): A detailed plan to restore a water body that is currently impaired to meet its water quality standards. This plan looks at the entire watershed that drains to the water body to determine the appropriate actions to reach the goal.

Water Rights (Riparian Rights): The rights of a person owning land containing or bordering on a watercourse or other body of water in or to its banks, bed, or waters.

Water pollution: Degradation of the natural quality of water.

Water Table: The upper limit of the part of the soil or underlying rock material that is wholly saturated with water. In some places, an upper or perched water table may be separated from a lower one by a dry zone.

Weed: Any unwanted plant, especially those that crowd out more desirable plants

Windbreak: A strip of trees or shrubs serving to reduce the force of the wind; any protective shelter from the wind.

Winter Manure Spreading

Winter Manure Spreading: Manure spreading between December 15 and February 28, or any time the ground is frozen at least 4 inches deep or is snow-covered.

Work ethic: Qualities of character believed to be promoted by work

World Bank: The popular name for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which was established in 1947. It encourages private (rather than public) investment.

World Commission on Environment and Development: Committee chaired by Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and also known as the Brundtland Commission. The Commission’s report, Our Common Future (1987), popularized the notion of sustainable development.

World economic system: A capitalist world economy consisting of a three-tiered hierarchy of countries, including a periphery, semiperiphery, and a core. Centrality in the economic system is determined by control of economic and political resources.

World Environment Day: June 5 of each year; designated by the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment as a day to focus on environmental problems.

World Resources Institute: Policy research center set up in 1982 to address environmental issues on a global level.


Xeriscaping: The practice of gardening or landscaping so as to reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation. Xeriscaping requires the selection of plants whose natural requirements are appropriate to the local climate, with a particular emphasis on water conservation, and focuses on designing and maintaining the land in such a way as to avoid losing water to evaporation and run-off.


Yield: The amount of a crop produced in a given time or from a given place


Zero discharge: The complete prevention of pollutants from entering ecosystems.

Zero population growth: A lack of population growth caused by a balance among births, deaths, and migration.

Zero Population Growth: An organization founded in 1968 to inform people about problems associated with global population growth.

Zoonotic Diseases: Diseases that can be spread from animals to humans.

ZPG: Zero population growth.

Source: Mifflinccd, Machine Finder, Roots of Progress, Kenyon, Business Journalism, Adapted from the USDA.

See More: Book Of Terms

Read More: Norman Borlaug: Father Of Green Revolution And Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Read More: Changing World Through Green Revolution: An Historical Overview And Impact

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