Can You Answer All of These Questions a Farmer Should Know?
By: Patrick Hyde
Image: Sompong Rattanakunchon / Moment / Getty Images
About This Quiz
Farming is the bedrock that allowed the first civilizations to thrive a flourish. The transition from hunter-gatherer societies to settled societies came about with the advent of animal husbandry and agriculture. The transition, known as the Neolithic Revolution, first occurred in Mesopotamia around 12,500 years ago. The way that humans cultivated the land and raised animals continued to increase in complexity and diversity, with massive operations allowing empires like the Romans and Chinese to rule over large swathes of land and maintain formidable standing armies. Further advancements would fuel growing commercial agriculture and support a ballooning population that, today, needs to meet the needs of over 7.5 billion people.
This is no easy feat. While you're strolling through the stands of fresh lettuce and berries at your local farmer's market, the life of a farmer may appear quaint and idyllic. But it requires an immense amount of know-how to get the crops from Sunshine Valley Family Farm to the street of your neighborhood. Do you know what to do when an unseasonable rain hits your mold-vulnerable crops? What tools do you need when erecting a new fence? How do you take care for chickens when they're sick? This quiz runs the gamut on some of the basic technical terminology and techniques it takes to run a farm today. So hike up your overalls and dive in to see if you are a true aggie.
If you attended an agricultural school, what subject would you study to learn about soil management?
Agronomy is the essential discipline that covers, among other subjects, soil science and crop management. Agronomy is responsible for increasing crop yields and quality and a cornerstone of agriculture programs.
Not all crops are grown equal. Which crop has the highest total global plantings by area?
Wheat is a staple in diets around the world, being the crucial block in bread, spirits, pasta and pizza. The low-yielding crop covers much of the northern hemisphere in waving amber fields. Corn, rice and soybeans round out the other top-planted crops.
Insects can be a farmer's best friend or worst foe. What bug is crucial to crop pollination?
There's been a lot of buzz about disappearing bees, and for good reason: Bees contribute about $20 billion to the United States agriculture business each year by pollinating plants. When a farmer wants to plant a new crop, they will often bring beehives to help start the crops.
Nothing captures romantic life on a farm like walking through an orchard at harvest season. What fruit does not grow on trees?
While stone fruits like cherries and citrus fruits like grapefruit grow on trees, cantaloupes grow on the ground. Heavy melons are better suited to growing on the ground on vines in fertile soil, where they do not have to contend with gravity prior to ripening.
What is a seed variety called that is traditional rather than commercial?
Today, most crops are planted from a small group of commercial mass-produced seeds. In order to maintain genetic variety, some farmers plant heirloom crops, which is the term referring to an old version of a fruit or vegetable.
Someone advocates that you plant trees or bamboo alongside your crops. What is the name of this land-use method?
That person is advocating for agroforestry, a land-use strategy that combines perennial woody plants like trees and shrubs and crops on the same plot of land. Advantages include more fertile soil and cleaner groundwater.
The company Monsanto released a herbicide called Roundup in 1976. What is the active chemical in the product?
Agribusiness giant Monsanto revolutionized farming in 1976 with the release of a glyphosate-based herbicide named Roundup. They sold seeds that were immune to the herbicide and dominated the market. Today, the possible dangers of the product are hotly debated.
About how much milk does an average dairy cow produce in one day's work?
After a cow gives birth to a calf it begins producing milk. Then they are milked a few times a day to produce around 7 gallons of milk each day. Cows need to eat 100 pounds of food each day in order to be able to produce this much milk.
You need to cut hay into a windrow before it can be bailed. What equipment do you use?
You would use a swarther, also known as a windrower, to cut down hay in a way that it dries faster before it can be bailed. These machines have sickles and can be pulled by a tractor or driven with their own engine.
Which famous agriculturist invented the horse-drawn hoe and seed-drill, allowing for seeds to be planted in straight lines?
Jethro Tull was a major figure in the British Agriculture Revolution, changing the way people thought about soil fertility and creating machines that allowed for crops to be planted quicker and more efficiently.
Increased soil salinity is sure to make any farmer worry. Which of the following is NOT a cause?
The process of soil salinity occurs when salt is brought to the top of the soil, causing crop damage and soil erosion. Runoff from road salt and irrigation are large causes, while natural conditions such as mineral weathering also contribute.
Aphids are swarming over your crops! Which species should you introduce to rid your plants of these tiny pests?
Cute little ladybugs are also an excellent defense against aphids. Farmers try and attract or introduce ladybugs, who can eat up to 5,000 aphids in a lifetime. Ladybug larvae will also eat hostile insects, making these tiny beetles useful allies throughout their entire lifespan.
Why would someone want to use the no-till farming method?
It is the only way to grow soybeans.
To prevent soil erosion
No-till farming has a host of benefits, including decreased soil-erosion, increased fertility and saving money on tilling equipment. Tilling is the practice of agitating the land to prepare for a new crop, typically when the farmer wants to change what is being planted in a field.
You need bees buzzing around your farm to pollinate a new crop. What should you plant to attract them?
Not only does lavender smell amazing and a purple splash of beauty to a farm, it is an excellent source of pollen that attracts bees to your area. Lavender rows can be planted in between other crops to create a buzzing ecosystem.
In addition to a hothouse, what other apparatus allows you to germinate seeds in a protected environment?
A cold frame acts as a smaller version of a greenhouse, consisting of a box with a glass frame. The device allows sunlight in while preventing heat from escaping at night, creating a safe condition for seedbeds to germinate.
We all see "organic" labels at the grocery store, but what does it mean in relation to agriculture?
Food that is growing without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers
In order for food to be labeled organic, it must not come in contact with chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides and cannot be treated with industrial finishers. This can cause problems when chemicals blow from a non-organic farm to an organic one.
Food that is not grown from GMO seeds
Food that hasn't been treated by the chemical Roundup
Food that meets a nutrient threshold greater than normal produce
Surprisingly, the egg-laying process begins when light hits a photosensitive gland near a female chicken's eyes. This kicks off a day-long cycle where the chicken will eventually lay an egg through muscular contraction.
A group of pigs is trotting across the farm. What term is referred to this herd?
Piglets are born in litters while a group of adult pigs is referred to as a sounder. Due to their excellent sense of smell, the sounder of pigs is likely searching the ground for food with their big noses.
The harvest is upon us! What crop will not turn up with the rest?
Search a farmer's market to in the heat of summer to find an abundance of tomatoes, cherries and watermelons, depending on where you live. Citrus fruits like oranges and limes are harvested during the winter.
You decide to grow wine grapes on your farm. How do you train the vines to grow in a desired way?
A trellis system is necessary to train the wild grape vines to grow in a manner that produces the highest quality fruit and makes it easiest to harvest. Other fruits can benefit from a trellis system as well.
What part of the horse should you avoid when picking their hooves so not to hurt it?
The frog is a triangular part of the horse's hoof inside located on the underside. The soft area is used as a shock absorber when the horse is walking but is very sensitive and must be protected otherwise.
Farmers use fertilizers to help plants grow by providing additional nutrients. Which of the following is not a common chemical in agricultural fertilizer?
While organic farmers opt for natural fertilizers such as manure, chemical fertilizers can be very effective at increasing crop yields. The first three chemicals on the list are found in most fertilizers while Oxybenzone is found in sunscreen.
What hitch is commonly used to connect to farming equipment like crawler tractors?
The clevis pin is found on every farm because it is used to attach a variety of equipment in a strong and sturdy manner. The system is three pieces, including the horseshoe-shaped clevis, a pin and a tang.
Hemp is one of the fastest-growing crop plantings in the world. What is a popular usage for the crop?
The industrial hemp industry is on the ascent after the United States passed a bill that allowed farmers to plant the crop without fear of retribution. The billion-dollar industry is fueled by the plant's versatile nature. Popular hemp products include textiles, compostable plastic and fuel.
A farmer who grows legumes might plant which of the following crops?
Legumes are a family of edible seed in which the seed is produced inside of the pod. The most popularly planted legume is soybeans, but some of the other seeds belonging to this family include lentils, lima beans and peas.
Fruit farmers pay close attention to the ratio of sugar to acid when deciding when to harvest. What is the term for a fruit's sugar content?
Scientist Adolf Brix created a formula to measure the sugar content in a liquid solution so that farmers and vintners would have a better of the optimum time to harvest fruit. One degree of Brix represents 1 part sugar in 100 grams of the liquid solution.
A farmer has many options when it comes to buying a tractor. Which of the following companies is a leading tractor manufacturer?
Founded in 1837, John Deere is synonymous with farming in North America. The company's green and yellow tractors are a ubiquitous sight across the continent, although Deere also produces a wide array of farming equipment.
Farming isn't only done on land. What would be a crop of an aquaculture farmer raising mollusks?
Oysters are a mollusk that has been farmed since Roman times for food and pearls. After the farmer spawns oysters, they have a variety of methods to raise the oyster into maturation. One method involves placing the spawned oysters onto firm surfaces where they are left to mature.