Agriculture is the practice and the art of cultivating the land to produce food, but also materials for other industries, such as clothing.
Agriculture, as one of the first human activities, is classified as a primary activity in economic language, a category which includes all activities related to the environment, along with hunting, fishing, forestry, and resource extraction. Among them, agriculture has been crucial in the history of man for the transition from nomadism to sedentarism. Its centrality in social life is detected by the presence of myths, beliefs, cults associated with agricultural times and agricultural practices.
Agriculture is also fundamental for the emergence of new social dynamics. In fact, humans have increasingly differentiated the products they cultivate to meet a growing population demand for food. The differentiation creates the conditions for the establishment of local identities, linked to food and to agricultural and production practices. Differentiation also creates the conditions for contiguous territories to exchange their products, expanding the possibilities of consumption for each population. Furthermore, the differentiation of cultivations contributes to the creation of increasingly vast exchange networks. The progressive development and innovation of infrastructure networks, roads, nautical routes, trains, highway networks and airplanes all contribute to facilitating more and more exchange between different places and populations, which over time are becoming more and more distant from each other. The ease of exchange of goods also increasingly determines the separation between places of production and places of consumption. In Roman towns and villages, or in medieval cities, agricultural production surrounds the walls and is part of the social scene. The acceleration of technological innovations, especially throughout the 20th century, distances agricultural production more and more from the tables of consumption. From the point of view of eating behaviours, these processes on the one hand have enabled a new mix of practices, foods and eating habits. On the other hand, the risks associated with intensive food production on a global scale have increasingly led consumers to re-evaluate local products and local production in a new way. Therefore, agriculture is considered in its ability to answer today's challenges: climate change and sudden hydrogeological events, inequalities, food security.
"Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It emphasises the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfil any specific function within the system." (FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, 1999)
Organic farming products are not always certified. In some cases, as in Italy, the bureaucratic and fiscal obligations of certification are excessive for small and very small farms. Products can circulate in informal markets, or in AfNs (Alternative Food Networks) that promote this type of production.
Biodynamical agriculture is a production system based on the theories of Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925), which refer to a holistic, mystical and spiritual vision of the contact between man and nature. For this reason, it is considered a pseudo-scientific method. However, it employs practices of the past, prohibiting the use of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides. For this reason, it is a practice assimilated to organic production. Despite this, not all countries recognize and certify this method: in Italy, biodynamical production is not assimilated and certified as biological. In Spain, however, production from biodynamical agriculture is recognized and certified.
Biological Agriculture is an integrated production system. It combines traditional production practices with technological tools, with the greatest possible respect for the environment. In biological production, combined with current certifications, a certain established margin for the use of chemicals is therefore allowed.