Agriculture is the science of raising crops and livestock for food. It is an old discipline with the word coming from the Latin agar meaning field and cultura meaning cultivation. Agriculture is an applied science using all of the physical sciences as well as some areas of engineering. In addition to it being concerned with plant and animal production, it includes the machinery and materials needed to produce, process, manufacture, and market all of the plant and animal products.
In the area of plant production there are specialized subdivisions, including:
- Agronomy—the study of field crops.
- Floriculture—the production, marketing, and sale of bedding plants, cut flowers, potted plants, foliage plants, flower arrangements, and home gardening.
- Forestry—all aspects of maintaining forests.
- Horticulture—the science of growing flowers, vegetables, and fruits.
- Landscape Architecture—the study of the use of plants in garden architecture.
- Plant Breeding—the development of better plants.
Animal husbandry pertains to the raising of domestic animals and includes their care, breeding, and feeding. Originally veterinary medicine was used only for the medical care of domesticated animals. It is now much more comprehensive and includes the health of all livestock, including poultry, wild birds, pets, wildlife, furbearing animals, zoo animals, aquatic mammals, and fish. It is also concerned with the some 200 diseases of animals that can be transmitted to humans. The animal industry is large and highly technical and includes the raising of poultry, cattle, swine, goats, sheep, fur-bearing animals, fish, shellfish, and the wide array of domestic pets.
Until recently, the literature for the agricultural areas was spread among many reports published by a myriad of institutes. Most of this literature is now accessible through the Bibliography of Agriculture Index. Medicus and Biological Abstracts are also key sources of information. Handbooks and manuals are common, especially in areas of environmental concern, such as using pesticides and herbicides.