"Agriculture" is the cultivation of land for effective crop growth and raising of livestock. Farmers engage directly in agriculture by preparing soil, planting crops, harvesting those crops and preparing them for transportation. They also bale hay, grow pastures and buy seed to raise livestock.
The word "agriculture" was coined in the 15th-century, but the process of cultivating the land to grow food has been in existence for much longer. Early farmers developed crops and livestock mainly to feed their families and local people. In contrast, modern agriculture, especially in the United States, is dominated by big business. Farming families do consume some of what they produce, but much of it is sold, whether in local markets or through national and global distribution channels.
While farming production dominates much of the topic of agriculture, agronomy is also an important element. Agronomy is a field of science that studies soil conditions and crop production. Agronomists conduct natural and lab-based research to evaluate how different crops grow under certain conditions. Agronomists work in academia, for private corporations and for public agencies that provide grants. The research they develop and publish helps push agriculture forward. Machines, seed, pesticides and irrigation systems are all core elements of agriculture that advance based on scientific research.