Neolithic farming techniques varied depending on the area, but they often involved small fields of mixed crops. Early farmers developed plows to work the soil and irrigation systems to water the plants.
Farming developed spontaneously throughout the world during the Neolithic period. Early farmers in the Middle East often focused on cereal grains, which were easy to store and had good nutritional value. In North America, some people cultivated sunflowers, while in the Andes they began growing potatoes, and Central Americans grew squash.
In wetter areas, some early farmers learned to build raised beds around lakes and marshes. Neolithic farmers in China developed some of the first rice paddies. In forested areas, there is evidence of slash-and-burn farming techniques. Fig trees were also cultivated by early humans, as evidenced by archaeological discoveries of seedless figs in the Jordan Valley. Archaeologists believe that the development of agriculture was a gradual process, with short-term or seasonal cultivation developing into more permanent settlements based around farming.
Neolithic farmers also developed animal farming techniques. While hunter-gatherer societies followed herds of wild animals around, farmers began capturing them and breeding them. This led to the domestication of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, and it allowed the people to eat meat while living in towns and cities. This in turn led to the development of agriculture on a larger scale and the practice of storing produce.