the technology of farming, the system of practices followed in crop growing. The object of agricultural technique is to assure high crop yield with minimal investment of labor and capital per unit of realized product. This object is accompanied by the introduction of scientific achievements and the results of advanced experience (taking into account the local economic and soil-climatic conditions) into agricultural practice, through the application of chemistry to farming and through the combined mechanization and automation of production processes. Agricultural engineering includes tillage, fertilization, preparation of seeds for sowing, sowing, planting, care of sowings, control of plant diseases and pests, harvesting, snow retention, soil leveling, watering, and so on.
The level of agricultural engineering is determined by the degree of development of the productive forces of society and by the character of production relationships. In primitive communal, slaveholding, and feudal societies, agricultural engineering was itself primitive, being based on manual labor and the very simplest tools. With the development of capitalism (at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries), a steady accumulation of improved methods in agricultural engineering took place, first in Western Europe and then in North America. In the case of Russia, the principles of rational agrotechnique were formulated in the 19th century, being associated with the names of V. V. Dokuchaev and P. A. Kostychev, who took the concept of soil fertility as a basis for the agricultural engineering complex. Also of very great significance were the works of K. A. Timiriazev. Great contributions were made to the development of scientific agrotechnique by M. G. Pavlov, A. V. Sovetov, I. A. Stebut, D. N. Prianishnikov, and many other Russian scientists. Certain educational institutions, experimental establishments, and leading farms worked to improve agricultural engineering. However, agriculture as a whole remained backward and unproductive in tsarist Russia. Massive introduction of advanced methods was prevented by the primitive technology of the time and by impoverishment of the peasants, who suffered from land starvation and from frequent crop failures.
Following the Great October Socialist Revolution, favorable conditions for the advancement of agriculture, in particular agricultural technique, appeared in Russia. The reconstruction of the agricultural economy, the organization of kolkhozes and sovkhozes, and the development of heavy industry and chemical production—all these created conditions for the agricultural use of modern machinery and tools, electric power, automation, mineral fertilizers, chemicals for use against plant diseases and pests, and new, more modern and economical methods in agricultural engineering. In the USSR a network of scientific establishments and an enormous army of progressive kolkhoz and sovkhoz workers are engaged in study of the theoretical principles and the development of agricultural technique.
Modern agricultural technique is based on the achievements of natural science, agronomy, and the technical sciences. Progress in plant physiology has had a great influence in improving the general quality of farming and has led to better methods in agricultural technique as well as improvement in existing ones. Research in plant nutrition has served as a basis for rational use of organic and mineral fertilizers. Studies of the water conditions of plants and of the soil have made possible a scientific justification of tillage methods and means of irrigation. The theoretical positions of soil science have made possible the development of agricultural complexes directed toward increasing the effective fertility of the soil. Finally, the theory of agricultural machines has served as a basis for creation of national (Soviet) machine designs offering improvement of agrotechnique in cropping.
The outstanding aspect of correct agricultural technique is its adaptability to local soil-climatic and economic conditions and to the biological features of the crops being raised. The theoretical basis of the composite use of agricultural technique methods to secure high yields is the equivalence and noninterchangeability of the factors of plant life—light, heat, air, moisture, and nutrients. For example, an insufficiency of water in the soil cannot be counterbalanced by a surplus of fertilizer; nor can nitrogen be replaced by phosphorus. However, by intensifying the action of one factor, we can realize a greater effect from the others. Thus, given sufficient soil moisture, plants utilize fertilizer more efficiently, and the intensity of photosynthesis is raised. In order to realize a high yield from this or that crop, it is necessary to assure it of vitally necessary factors in definite proportions, and this in turn requires the use of a whole complex (that is, a system) of agricultural procedures. Differentiation in agricultural technique is instituted in response to the soil-climatic peculiarities of a given region and a given farm; in various zones, the leading role will be played by a vital factor which is weak under natural conditions. For example, in the moisture-deficient black-earth zone of the USSR, where water is of fundamental significance for yield, principal attention is directed to agricultural measures which will promote preservation and accumulation of moisture. Outside the black-earth belt, in well-watered but impoverished soddy-podzolic soils, agricultural engineering aims first of all at enriching the soil with plant nutritional elements; in this case primary significance attaches to soil development, achieved through lowering the plowing layer, liming, and applying organic and mineral fertilizers. Agricultural technique is differentiated also on the basis of crop, variety, and even strain; and it depends, further, on the purpose for which the crop is intended (corn for green fodder or for silage, sugar beets for industry or for steckling beet, sunflowers for seeds or for silage, flax for fiber or for seeds, and so on).
Achievement of high efficiency in the complex of agricultural technique measures is possible only with use of correct crop rotation. Agricultural technique must be applied with due allowance for the productive characteristics of each field, the biological features of previous plant life, and the consequences of the measures taken. For instance, tillage, fertilization, and antiweed measures absolutely require that allowance be made for crops harvested earlier; in both autumn and spring, tillage after a grain harvest differs from tillage after a harvest of intertilled crops. Therefore, crop rotation in combination with competent agricultural engineering and correct fertilization is a guarantee of high yield, increased labor productivity, and reduced expenditures per unit of agricultural production.
REFERENCESDokuchaev, V. V. Nashi stepi prezhde i teper’. Moscow, 1954.
Timiriazev, K. A. “Zemledelie i fiziologiia rastenii.” Izbr. soch., vol. 1. Moscow, 1957.
Prianishnikov, D. N. “Ob udobrenii polei i sevooborotakh.”Izbr. stat’i. Moscow, 1962.
Ratsional’noe ispol’zovanie zemli (collection of articles). Moscow, 1962.
Tulaikov, N. M. Izbr. proizvedenia. Moscow, 1963.
Doiarenko, A. G. Izbr. soch. Moscow, 1963.
S. I. SAVEL’EV and K. G. SHUL’MEISTER