agriculture: the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products
farming: the production of food and fiber derived from plants and animals. Farmers must understand economics, business, mathematics, and the science involved in getting their crops and animals to market. The science involved in agriculture includes the knowledge of ecosystems, soil, water, weather, chemistry, and plant and animal biology.
food: Made from the raw products taken from the farm. Some products, like corn, may be consumed in
their raw state or processed into an entirely different product like corn chips, soda, peanut butter,
detergents, or medicines. Other raw farm products require processing to make them more palatable and digestible before they can be eaten. Wheat, for example, is the most important grain in the United States. We would have to eat hundreds of raw wheat seeds to get the same
nutrition we can get more easily from processing the wheat into flour and then baking bread. Bread is a more palatable way to eat wheat. The food industry centers around the processing and distribution of food.
fabric: natural fibers are produced on the farm; the two most important fibers are wool and cotton. These fibers are made into thread or yarn and then knitted or woven into fabric or cloth, then finally made into gloves, socks, suits, coats, and other products including blankets, carpets, and curtains.
forestry: many forests are cultivated. Agriculturally, many private forests are grown to provide paper and other wood products.
flowers: Flower and nursery crop production are part of the “Green Industry,” which includes turfgrass. The primary use of these crops is for aesthetics or beauty.
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. The average American eats about 42 quarts.1
Bananas are most likely the first fruit ever to be grown on a farm.2
Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or 350 slices per second!3
Americans are eating 900% more broccoli than we did 20 years ago.4
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
Ask the students, "What kinds of things do you use every day?" (You should get answers like food, clothes, books, paper, computers, balls, water, TV, etc.)
Discuss with the students that the items we use every day are either grown or mined (with a few exceptions, like the sun!). If the item is grown specifically for people, it is a product of agriculture.
Ask the students "Where do we get the things we use every day?"Most students will say, “at the grocery store!” Some might say, “a factory.” Tell the students that the store is a distribution center where we buy things and that the factory is a place where “raw” ingredients, grown for us (wheat for bread) or provided by nature (petroleum for fuel or plastic), are put together to make a product that ends up in the store.
Ask your students, "What is agriculture?" Have the students offer their answers and use the information found in the Background Agricultural Connections and the Vocabulary sections of the lesson to define the word "agriculture." Help the students identify their connection to agriculture by recognizing that food, fabric, flowers, and forestry (wood) comes from agriculture.
Print and cut out the Farm Web Graphics. The 30, four-inch color images can be laminated for this activity. You may also purchase the My Farm Web Kit.
This activity may be conducted inside or outside; either way, you’ll need about 10 square feet of floor space. The students will place a picture and then the connecting yarn.
Activity 1: Concept Picture Web
Ask the students, "Where does agriculture begin?" (On a farm.)
Guide the students to understand that agriculture begins on a farm and there all kinds of farms. Cattle ranches for beef and leather; dairy farms for milk and all the products made from milk; orchards that grow apples to make juice and apple pies; pig farms for pepperoni, bacon, and ham; grain farms that grow corn for fuel or corn syrup for soda, and wheat for bread; cotton farms for blue jeans; and tree farms for paper and landscaping. In fact, there is a different kind of farm for nearly every type of product. Farms specialize in what they grow based upon their location (climate and soil), and farmers choose only a few crops because the type of equipment used to plant and harvest each crop is very specific and expensive.
Inform students they are now going to create a “farm web” to help them understand agriculture and where the items they use every day come from.
Have students move to the area where they will build the farm web.
Place the farm picture in the center of the floor. Mix up the remaining pictures and either put them in a pile or pass a picture to each student.
Ask the students, “Which pictures will go closest to the farm picture?” (The pictures of plants or animals that are grown or raised on a farm go closest.)
Students with products made from ingredients produced on a farm should place their pictures onto the web after the farm-raised item is placed.
As each picture is placed, ask the students to use a linking phrase such as dairy cows make milk (the word make is the linking word) to describe how their items connect to the web. Discuss each new connection as the pictures are placed.
When all the pictures have been correctly placed, review the linking phrases and ask students if they think other pictures could be added to the web.
As a conclusion to the activity, read aloud one or more of the recommended books and ask students where the products mentioned in the books would fit into their farm web.
Activity 2: Concept Word Web
Extend the first activity by further defining agriculture using the 5-Fs of agriculture (see Vocabulary).
To make sure students understand concept maps and the content, ask students to create a concept web with words on paper or on a whiteboard.
Divide the students into five groups. Give each group a sheet of chart paper or disperse them along the whiteboard (draw a large rectangle, the size of the chart paper, on the whiteboard for each group); write one of the 5-F words (farm, food, fabric, forestry, flowers) in the center of each paper or rectangle. For a large class, make two more groups and add the words “fuel” and “fish.”
Ask students to create a concept map around their group’s word by thinking about products they can associate with the word. Give them about 5 minutes. Next, ask them to create linking phrases.
Ask each group to share and explain their concept web with the class. (Paper maps should be posted on the wall.)
Conclude the instruction by announcing that the students have visually created a definition of agriculture.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
There are many career opportunities in agriculture.
Many of the items we use everyday originate on a farm.
Agricultural products provide for our daily needs—food, clothing, and shelter.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Leave the concept maps up on the board or on the wall, and encourage other groups to help add to each other’s maps. It’s important to add words showing the relationship between linked concepts if a step or stage is missing.
In addition to the products students thought about with the 5-Fs, ask students to try to identify careers with the new word links they have created. For example, if they have listed the word yogurt as a food, they should now link the word to milk processing plant worker, and then to dairy farmers, and then to dairy computer programmers, and milk-hauling truckers, etc. Again, give the students 5 minutes to see if they can get 20 new career links. Or, make it a contest to see which group can link and list the greatest number of careers. After careers have been identified and written on the concept web, ask students to note the natural resources used to produce each product such as fuel (oil), water, soil, etc.
Read Issue 1 of Ag Todaytitled Agriculture is Everywhere! This reader can be printed or accessed digitally. It describes the connections humans make daily with agriculture from business and science to the practices of growing and selling row crops and animals to be used for food, fiber, and fuel.
Discover that there are many jobs in agriculture (T5.3-5.b)
Explain the value of agriculture and how it is important in daily life. (T5.3-5.d)
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table (T3.3-5.b)
Identify careers in food, nutrition, and health (T3.3-5.f)
Agriculture and the Environment
Identify the major ecosystems and agro-ecosystems in their community or region (e.g., hardwood forests, conifers, grasslands, deserts) with agro-ecosystems (e.g., grazing areas and crop growing regions) (T1.3-5.d)