If you think of farming and imagine “American Gothic,” a famous paining of a dour farmer and his wife, you haven’t been exposed to the technology-heavy modern farm. These days, farms are digital masterpieces etched in the landscape, in which computer models analyze crop yields, specify fertilizer application and predict profits and losses. And at the end of the season, GPS and laser-guided combines harvest plants with amazing precision and speed. Do you think you know enough about these process to ace our farming quiz?
Modern farming is a year-round endeavor. In the winter, farmers figure out which parts of their fields need improvements in terms of erosion and nutrition. In the spring, when the soil warms, they prepare their fields for seeds, which themselves are often high-tech inventions with incredible gene alterations that make them hardier and more likely to produce high yields.
Once the nitrogen has settled and the tassels are long gone, it’s time for the harvest. This (often frantic) process means pulling crops from fields before winter snows turn the fields to muck.
Pull on your boots, snap on your coveralls, and get your hands dirty with this farming quiz now!
Many farmers drill the soil a bit to open the top layer. This makes it easier to plant new seeds, which are then placed at the optimimum depth for best possible growth.
Square miles would be a useless term for farmers with irregular plots of land. Acres, on the other hand, is a universally understood unit of property holdings.
Farmers take many measures, like terracing, to reduce erosion, which is frequently caused by water runoff and wind. Erosion can ruin fields and reduce a land's potential for crops.
For many years, researchers have been tweaking the genes of plants to improve certain good traits to help them grow better and increase crop yields. But GMOs have gotten a bad rap in some quarters, as people worry that they may cause more harm than benefit.
You don't need your PhD in agronomy to know that "acid" refers to a soil's pH levels. Below 7.0, a soil is regarded as having an acid reaction.
Various types of fungi may attack large swaths of crops. But modern fungicides can help to keep these damaging organisms at bay.
Not all chickens are great for egg production. Those that consistently produce eggs, though, are called layers.
Farmers use screw-like augers to move grain through tubes. Augers are simple but vital tools, and when they fail or become jammed, they may cause time-consuming work delays.
Combines are incredibly useful for farmers. They combine threshers and harvesters, making the fall harvest much more efficient than in olden times.
Broilers are young chickens. They can be either male or female, but they're always around 7 weeks old.
In many places of the world, farming isn't a job, it's a means for survival. Subsistence farming means the farmer is growing just enough food to feed his or her own family.
Feedlots are (often enormous) feeding areas where farmers fatten cattle for market. It's an easy way to quickly bring a product to market, but some nutrition and environmental concerns do arise in these facilties, in part due to the close quarters and large amounts of animal waste that must be disposed of.
Cover crops might be species such as buckwheat that are planted between rows of primary crops. They help to protect the soil from erosion and often improve soil quality, too.
Dry cows are those that aren't producing milk. Various life cycle processes -- or even high stress -- can cause a cow to go dry.
Crop rotation means planting different crops in the same field in successive years. Changing the crops tend to improve soil quality.
Farmers stuff plant material into large, airtight bags to create a fermentation process. This silage is eventually used as animal feed.
In many places, the practice of no-till farming is becoming more acceptable. It leaves crop stalks in the fields, a fact that drastically reduces erosion and protects the soil.
Farmers like to make the most of their land. In a double crop season, they might plant wheat early, harvest it, and then plant soybeans for harvest in autumn.
Riparian rights are water rights. In dry regions -- or those crushed by drought -- riparian rights can mean the difference between a farm that survives and one that goes bankrupt.
Dry land farming means there's no irrigation system in place. The crops will survive (or fail) on natural precipitation alone.
The beef industry has been pushing the "Angus" type of beef for years. Angus beef has been very popular with consumers all over the country.
Farmers sometimes plant more than one type of crop in the same field. This can greatly reduce erosion and the plants will benefit each other in terms of nutrients.
Gravitation water is water that either seeps through the soil or merely runs off on the surface. In either case, it doesn't offer much moisture for crops in the area.
Viticulture is the foundation of the grape industry. Without it, no bagged grapes or bottled wines would be possible
Bushels are how farmers measure their yields of corn, wheat, etc. One bushel of these products is equal to about 8 gallons of liquid.
Hydroponics refers to systems that grow plants in nutrient-laced water. The concept is particularly useful in areas where growing conditions aren't ideal for outdoor fields.
Combines are adapatable machines. Swap out the head and you can use them to harvest many types of crops.
When too many farmers tap into groundwater for irrigation, they are overdrafting the supply. In some places, overdrafting can have terrible consquences for farmers and their families.
Corn, rice and wheat are just three examples of cereal grains. These grains all have an inedible outer coating, called chaff, that must be removed before the grains are used as food.
To make silage, farmers pack grassy crops (or even grass) into a nearly airtight area. The material begins to ferment, and after about two weeks it can be used as animal feed for ruminants.
Some farmers trust native microorganisms to properly ferment the silage. Others add specific bacteria to the mix in order to make the silage a better quality product.
Pivot irrigation refers to large sprinklers that spray their life-giving fluids all over a dry field. In some places, farming isn't possible without pivots.
Bacillus thuringiensis is often found in native soils. Farmers acquire Bt in large quanties and then spray in on their fields, as it is a good pest deterrent in some climates.
Silage fermentation results in liquids that aren't good for the environment. Furthermore, if those liquids aren't captured, they can contaminate groundwater.
Sustainable agriculture maximizes the health of the overall environment. Its practices embrace long-term farming that benefits every part of the farming process, from start to finish.