The Oxford Encyclopedia of Agriculture and the Environment

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Agriculture and the Environment

Agriculture is arguably the strongest environmental impact our species has had since Pleistocene times. This encyclopedia thus focuses on historical and contemporary relationships between agriculture, the environment, and how we understand that interaction. Past and current practices of agriculture worldwide, and the environmental consequences of agriculture within different societies, evoke a range of articles in five categories as noted below. From soil science and land conversion practices, to irrigation, sowing and the harvesting of primary crops from a variety of traditions and approaches, we explore how agriculture has changed earth’s environment. Articles on contemporary issues are included, such as the relative merits of GMO crops, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and the role of agriculture in climate change. Throughout, topical contributions are integrated into an over-arching perspective on the human footprint through terrestrial food production. All of the articles appear online as part of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science.

To read the Oxford Encyclopedia of Agriculture and the Environment articles online, see the Agriculture and the Environment section of ORE Environmental Science.

Editorial Board

Editor in Chief, Richard Hazlett, Pomona College and University of Hawai'i at Hilo

Associate Editors

Peter Bogucki, Princeton University

Marc Los Huertos, Pomona College

Attila Nemes, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research

Giuseppe Provenzano, University of Palermo


Mark Dourojeanni, Professor Emeritus (Retired), former Dean, Faculty of Forestry, National University of Agriculture, PeruTOPICS


History of Agriculture

Soil Nature, Abuse, and Stewardship

Irrigation, Nutrient Management, and Nutrient Issues

Selected Crops, Livestock, and Environmental Impacts of Their Production

The Big Picture and Toward a New Global Agriculture


Rye (Gregory L. Willoughby, )
Cotton and other Fiber Crops (Gregory L. Willoughby, , )
Agricultural Innovation and Dispersal in Eastern North America (Kandace D. Hollenbach, Stephen B. Carmody)
Agricultural Methanogenesis (Alexander N. Hristov)
Ancient and Traditional Agriculture in South America: Tropical Lowlands (Glenn H. Shepard Jr., Gilton Mendes dos Santos, Claide de Paula Moraes, Helena Pinto Lima, Eduardo Góes Neves, Charles R. Clement)
Crop Rotations, Fallowing, and Associated Environmental Benefits (Muhammad Farooq, Faisal Nadeem, Ahmad Nawaz)
Food Waste and Biomass Recovery (Wun Jern Ng, Vinay Kumar Tyagi, Keke Xiao)
Indigenous Polynesian Agriculture in Hawai'i (Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, Peter Vitousek)
Nomadism (Philip Carl Salzman)
Organic Farming (Theodore J. K. Radovich)
Pros and Cons of GMO Crop Farming (Rene Van Acker, M. Motior Rahman)
Soil Resources, the Delivery of Ecosystem Services and Value (David A. Robinson, Bridget Emmett, Paula Harrison, Laurence Jones, Martine van der Ploeg, Francis Parry Roberts, Fiona Seaton, Katrina Sharps, Amy Thomas, Jannes Stolte)
Soil Salinization (Pichu Rengasamy)
Soil Tilth and Management (Lars J. Munkholm)
Subsurface (Tile) Agricultural Drainage (Gary R. Sands, Nathan Utt)
Surface Irrigation (Luis S. Pereira)
The Qanat System of Iran and the Maghreb (Ahmad Abbasnejad, Behnam Abbasnejad)
The Science of Agroecology (Juha Helenius, Alexander Wezel, Charles A. Francis)
Tomatoes: A Model Crop of Solanaceous Plants (Raheel Anwar, Tahira Fatima)