Biodiversity, Food and Farming for a Healthy Planet

How do farmers grow food around the world?

If you visited a farm in every country, you would notice a lot of variation. You might see a cocoa plantation in Ghana, a wine vineyard in Italy, rice paddies in China, a wheat field in the United States or a cattle ranch in Brazil.

Farmers living in different areas have different climates, landscapes, microorganisms, plants and animals so they must adapt their growing practices to local conditions. However, all farmers rely on ecosystem services.

To grow crops, it helps if farmers understand local growing conditions (such as knowing when the rainy season starts, which crops grow well together, what nutrients the crop needs and are these nutrients present in the soil). After deciding what to grow, farmers often till the land by loosening the soil and mixing in fertilizers, which are nutrient rich. Then, they sow seeds or plant seedlings. When the crops are growing, farmers must water (or rely on rainfall), weed and kill crop pests. Once the crops are mature, the farmer will harvest them.

Farmers need resources to grow food. They need many different types of resources. Farmers need natural resources, such as land, air, nutrients, water and sunlight. Farmers themselves need energy so they can work the land. Farmers need human-made tools to work the land. Some resources can be bought at the local market. So farmers also need money to buy resources that are not available on their land.