Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi, and other life forms for food, fiber, biofuel, medicinal and other products used to sustain and enhance human life. ~ Wikipedia
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 ~ Websters
Bees cultivate flowering plants and gather the nectar for a uniquely fermented product called honey that sustains their complex society. They even select for purity along microbial lines thus cultivating blossoms free of certain microbials: “Nectar inhabited by yeast did not deter bees from consuming the nectar, but bacteria-laden nectar caused bees to turn up their noses.” ~ Stanford Report, January 23, 2014
“…Bees carry an electrostatic charge whereby they attract other particles in addition to pollen, which become incorporated into their honey… Honey’s sugars are dehydrated, which prevents fermentation, with added enzymes to modify and transform their chemical composition and pH. Invertases and digestive acids hydrolyze sucrose to give the monosaccharides glucose and fructose. Invertase is one of these enzymes synthesized by the body of the insect. Honey bees transform saccharides into honey by a process of regurgitation, a number of times, until it is partially digested. The bees do the regurgitation and digestion as a group. After the last regurgitation, the aqueous solution is still high in water, so the process continues by evaporation of much of the water and enzymatic transformation. Honey is produced by bees as a food source. To produce about 500 g of honey, foraging honey bees have to travel the equivalent of three times around the world. In cold weather or when fresh food sources are scarce, bees use their stored honey as their source of energy…” ~ Wikipedia. We could call that agriculture, but instead we call it nature.
Certain varieties of Ants also living in complex society cultivate fungus as an appropriate base food for their civilization: “Leaf cutting ants grow the symbiotic fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus that they feed with leaf material.” ~ Max Plank Institute of Chemical Ecology. We could call that agriculture, but instead we call it nature.
Foraging ruminants amplify forage production and weed suppression by an innate herd instinct that created and sustained prairies. We could call that agriculture, but we don’t. We call it nature. Several indigenous peoples regenerated and sustained prairies to raise easily harvestable and dependable food and material sources coming from a symbiotic relationship with large ruminants. In a sense the Herds raised indigenous people to amplify their prairie management scheme and overall standard of living while indigenous peoples raised the herds to amplify their standard of living. We could call this agriculture, but we generally do not. It is nature, right?
To any species in perspective of self we are boss… we are special. For this reason, all the other schemes of nature are simply nature, while ours are agriculture. So be it. However, considering the propensity for human overstep—often called “footprint”—agriculture and society in 2015 needs to morph into a more functional and integrated form that creates not just a present and prosperous human civilization today, but a total natural prosperity and resource regeneration over the long haul. Agroecology is an integrated and locally specific symbiotic scheme that cultivates “nature” while amplifying our own standard of living and the dependable supply of clean water, food, fiber, and materials. Agroecology is the mindful integration of human culture into natural culture to add greater benefit to the whole than in our human absence.
If there is one term that represents hope of a future for humanity, it is agroecology.
Agroecology: the locally specific meshing of humanity in cultural and functional integration with natural prosperity of diverse ecology to amplify the holistic standard of living and future prosperity of humankind.