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HINDU FESTIVALS

Such operations use small land areas or are housed en- tirely inside buildings. Many animal units can be man- aged with small amounts of labor. The result is animal farms where all the best health controls are available and applied to keep herds and flocks healthy.

Computer technology has increased the amount and way data is collected. Dairies know the daily and annual milk output for every cow in the herd; hog farmers know the weight gain and feed conversion efficiency of every sire used in their breeding operation; cattle feedlot man- agers know the weight gain and the carcass quality of every animal; and poultry producers know the feed-to- meat ratio of their broilers and the egg production of each laying hen.

The ease of obtaining data by computer and the ready availability of well designed equipment and build- ings has decreased labor and enabled increases in size of animal operations. Increases in the economic efficiency of producing meat and eggs have reduced the cost of products at the grocery store. While many small animal operations exist, most production is from larger opera- tions. Biotechnology’s promise for animal agriculture is comparable for crop production and will lead to many new products.

Animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats still graze land too rolling, too dry, or otherwise not suited for crop production. Such cow-calf and sheep operations harvest the biomass that would otherwise be uneconomical to harvest and supply feedlots with animals. Land well suited for crop production—flat, with adequate rainfall or avail- able irrigation—has reduced animal grazing during the past twenty to fifty years.

Summary

Crop and animal agriculture has changed more in the past century than it has since farming began many mil- lennia ago. Modern-day crop production practices, often called precision agriculture (PA), benefited from all ear- lier revolutions in crop production. Precision agriculture technology developed because of ubiquitous and inex- pensive computational power, software (GIS), and satel- lite location systems (GPS). Precision agriculture equipment enables variable-rate fertilizer, herbicide, plant population, and yield assessment. Wide adoption of PA equipment will occur as it becomes economical. Technology has moved crop production from a high la- bor and low capital intensive to a low labor and high cap- ital intensive industry. Typical Midwest Corn Belt farms have gone from less than 160 acres to more than 500 acres. The labor necessary to produce a bushel of corn decreased from more than thirty minutes in 1930 to a fraction of a minute in 2002. Availability of high pow- ered well designed equipment; well-adapted hybrids and varieties; precise weed, insect, and disease control; im- proved plant and animal genetics; and improved animal health have all contributed to the revolution in plant pro- duction we have discussed. Biotechnology and computer

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revolutions enable us to manage large operations and de- sign crops and animals that will be more nutritious in the future. Consumers are the major beneficiary of these de- velopments since food purchases now requires less than 10 percent of average income.

See also Agriculture, Origins of; Agriculture since the Industrial Revolution; Agronomy; Crop Improve- ment; Food Production, History of; Food Supply and the Global Food Market; Food Supply, Food Short- ages; Green Revolution; Herbicides; Horticulture; Livestock Production; Pesticides.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Conway, Gordon. The Doubly Green Revolution: Food for All in

the Twenty-first Century. Ithaca, N.Y.: Comstock Publish- ing, 1997.

Lal, Rattan. “Viewpoint: A Modest Proposal for the Year 2001: We Can Control Greenhouse Gases and Feed the World . . .with Proper Soil Management.” Journal of Soil and Wa- ter Conservation 55, no. 4 (2000): 429–433.

Manning, Richard. Food’s Frontier: The Next Green Revolution.

New York: North Point Press, 2000.

Runge, E. C. A., and Frank M. Hons. “Precision Agriculture: Development of a Hierarchy of Variables Influencing Crop

Yields.” In Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference

on Precision Agriculture, edited by P. C. Robert, R. H. Rust, and W. E. Larson, part A, pp. 143–158. St. Paul, Minn., July, 1998.

E. C. A. Runge

HINDU FESTIVALS. India is a land of bewilder- ing diversity, a unique and colorful mosaic of people of various faiths. There is a festival for every reason and for every season. Many festivals celebrate various harvests, commemorate great historical figures and events, or ex- press devotion to the deities. Every celebration centers around the rituals of prayer and seeking of blessings, and involves the decoration of homes, wearing of new clothes, music, dancing, and feasting. Festivals are an expression of the spirit of celebration. They are observed with en- thusiasm and gaiety and are occasions when the greater family and friends come together. They also present women with an opportunity to socialize. Many of these festivals are associated with special foods.

Among the most important Hindu festivals are Makar Sankranti, Shivratri, Holi, Onam, Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussehra, and Diwali. They are celebrated throughout the country in various forms.

Makar Sankranti

Also referred to as Lohri in the North and as Pongal in parts of the South, Makar Sankranti is a celebration of the “ascent” of the sun to the North. The festival marks the coldest day of the winter (14 January), after which the biting cold begins to taper off. In the North, the fes- tival is marked by the lighting of bonfires, into which

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