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Glossary of Agricultural Terms and Definitions

Below is a glossary of agricultural terms and definitions developed to help website visitors understand with the technical, scientific or otherwise unfamiliar terms, acronyms and definitions used here. Since we are the pioneer and leader of the managed agricultural production (MAP) model, a few terms may not be readily found elsewhere. Like all other parts of this website and all our publications, this list of terms and definitions will grow as our clients' needs become more sophisticated.


      Acre:  The unit most commonly used to measure farm and ranch land in the United States . An acre is 43,560 square feet, or 0.4048 hectares. To convert acres to hectares, multiply acres by .4048. (Example: 100 acres X .4048 = 40.48 hectares.)
      Aerobic:  Requiring oxygen.
      Agronomy:  Scientific discipline related to the production of agricultural crops. Universities aren't uniform in their organization of plant sciences into departments. For example, at some schools, scientists who work on corn would be found in the agronomy department. At other schools they would be found in the horticulture department.
      Anaerobic: Not requiring oxygen.
      Aquaculture:   also known as fish or shellfish farming-refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean.
      Biotechnology:  Generally, the use of recombinant DNA to take genes from one organism and insert them into the DNA of another organism. Although the term, first coined in 1917, originally described large-scale production of pigs fed on sugar beets, the term has evolved to describe genetic engineering. Usage isn't uniform, but scientists commonly use the terms genetic engineering, bioengineering, genetic modification, genetic engineering and biotechnology interchangeably. The technology is used in plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria.
      Bushel:  A dry measure commonly used as a measure of crops. In the United States a bushel equals 4 pecks, or 2150.42 cubic inches. In the United States , the bushel is the common measure of wheat and some other crops. A bushel of apples is 42 pounds.
      Carbohydrate:  Generic name for sugars; e.g., fructose, sucrose.
      Cereal grains:  Plants of the grass family that produce grain (seeds) that provide human food. They include wheat, rice, barley, oats, corn (maize), rye and triticale.
      Containerization:  Shipping method in which standardized containers are packed in the field, sealed and transported by truck and/or train to ships. They aren't opened until they reach their receiver.
      Controlled atmosphere, (CA):  Controlled atmosphere storage. This technology controls gases in the atmosphere of cold storage facilities in a way that greatly prolongs the life of fruit, such as apples.
      Cover crop:  A crop grown to protect soil from erosion or nutrient leaching, rather than for production of food or fiber.
      Customs duty:  The amount of money that a person or firm has to pay to the government when importing (import duty) or exporting a good (export duty).
      Drip irrigation:  A system for irrigating crops by delivering water to the root zone through small, plastic pipes equipped with emitters. This technology conserves water and eliminates soil erosion from irrigation water runoff. Also called trickle irrigation.
      Energy crops:  These are crops which are grown for energy, rather than for food or fibre. They include oilseeds crops (e.g. oilseed rape, soya, sunflower), cereals (e.g. wheat, barley, maize, rye), sugar beet, sugarcane and perennial crops (e.g. miscanthus, short rotation coppice, eucalyptus).
      Extensification:  Extensification refers to extensive farming methods which are generally characterized by a low level of inputs and outputs, and which are usually relatively labor-intensive.
      Fallow:  Idle crop land. The most common reasons in modern agriculture are to conserve moisture for future use and for weed control. In extremely dry areas, for instance, wheat is grown every other year. Fields lie fallow.
      Feed grains:  Grain grown to be fed to animals. Examples include corn, and sorghum. Most barley is grown for this purpose. But barley also is grown to make malt or beer, in which case it is classified as a small grain.
      Field crops:  Originally defined as any crop grown on a larger scale than in gardens. Modern usage may vary, but generally refers to small grains, hay and cotton.
      Flood irrigation:  A type of irrigation in which fields are flooded with water.
      Food safety:  This term refers to the extent to which food is safe to eat. The term is sometimes confused with food security which refers to the extent to which food is available - i.e. whether it is physically available and can be bought at a price that people can afford.
      Food security:  Situation in which people or populations at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy life.
      Forage:  Plants, other than grain, grown for animal feed.
      Furrow:  A narrow grove made in the ground by a plow. Furrows serve different purposes, one of which is to contain a rill of water for surface irrigation.
       Requiring oxygen.
      Genetic engineering:  Human-directed alteration of genetic code through any of a variety of biotechnical means.
      Genetically modified organism (GMO):  The term genetically modified organism is any organism, with the exception of the human being, in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or by natural recombination.
      Germination:  The process within a seed that leads to visible penetration of the seed coat by the radicle. It begins with water uptake and involves formation and activation of enzymes that convert starch, fats and protein in the endosperm and/or cotyledons into smaller chemical components that are transported to sites of embryo growth.
      Good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC):  This concept includes the following: the protection of soil against erosion, the maintenance of soil organic matter and soil structure, and the safe-guarding of landscape features.
      Hectare:  The most commonly used measure of agricultural lands in the metric system. A hectare equals 10,000 square meters (or 2.471 acres). Hectare is the measure used in most of the world outside the United States . To convert hectares to acres, multiply times 2.471. (Example: 100 hectares X 2.471 = 247.10 acres.)
      Hybrid:  Offspring produced by combining genetically different parents. Hybrid corn is the classic example, in which two varieties are cross pollinated to produce a third, which has more favored qualities. Don't confuse hybridization with biotechnology, genetic engineering, etc. Hybridization has created plants that are higher yielding, more resistant to disease and that produce more desirable food or fiber.
      Import quota:  An import quota is the maximum quantity of a good that a country's importers may import at zero or reduced duty.
      Integrated Pest Management, (IPM):  IPM is defined as socially acceptable, environmentally responsible and economically practical crop protection from pests. Emphasis is on substituting biological controls such as natural predators for chemical controls of pests and diseases that attack plants grown for food or fiber. IPM doesn't necessarily eliminate the need for chemicals, but where it cannot eliminate them, it functions to reduce the amount of chemical required to control pests and diseases.
      Legume:  A member of the pea family. Also the fruit or pod of this family of plants. This family includes many plants grown for food or livestock forage. Leguminous plants commonly grown by U.S. farmers include forage crops such as alfalfa and clover, and food crops such as beans and peas.
      Managed Agricultural Production (MAP):  An novel agricultural production model in which an individual or institution directly produces its own food and agricultural supplies remotely on the premises of an agricultural production service provider like Epicob Agriculture. The MAP model of agricultural production was first introduced and is being commercialized by Epicob Agriculture, and differs from contract production in that the individual or institutional client has full control of how the production occurs, as if the premises were their own.
      Metric ton:  2,204.6 pounds. For many commodities this is the standard measure for international trade. It is commonly used in FAS reports. However, domestic shipments usually are reported in short tons.
      National Agricultural Advisory Services:  The agency of the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries responsible for extension services in Uganda.
      Organic farming:  Organic production is an overall system of farm management and food production that combines best environmental practices, a high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources, the application of high animal welfare standards and a production method in line with the preference of certain consumers for products produced using natural substances and processes.
      Permanent crops:  The term permanent crops means non-rotational crops other than permanent grassland and permanent pastures which occupy the land for five years or more and which yield repeated harvests, including nurseries and short rotation coppice.
      pH:   potential Hydrogen ions. Acidity or alkalinity of the soil is measured by pH. Basically it measures the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil. Acid soils are most common in moist climates, alkaline soils are most common in dry climates. A soil with a pH of 7 is considered neutral. A soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is considered acidic, a pH rating above 7 indicates alkalinity.
      Plant pathology:  Plant pathology: The scientific discipline dealing with diseases of plants. Plant pathologists may be associated with departments of plant pathology, agronomy, crop sciences or botany.
      Producer:  A farmer, rancher or orchardist. The term usually is preceded by an adjective that describes the nature of the operation, such as potato producer.
      Pulse:  A food legume; also the seed of a food legume.
      Ranch:  Narrowly defined as an establishment for raising livestock on range. However, common usage in the American West also applies the term to a large farm devoted mainly to raising a single crop or kind of animal. In this use, it is proper to refer to an apple ranch, a wheat ranch, etc. The term ranch would only be properly applied to large-scale operations.
      Row crops:  Crops planted in rows far enough apart to be mechanically cultivated during their early growing period. Common examples are carrots, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and commercially grown flowers.
      Sustainable agriculture:  There is no commonly agreed upon definition of sustainable agriculture. The concept has been, and continues to be, surrounded by controversy. At Washington State University the term is used to describe agricultural management practices that are profitable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable. Broadly speaking, the movement to promote this type of agriculture arose from the negative effects of changes in agriculture that were brought about by vast and rapid technological changes introduced with the application of mechanization and chemicals to farming and ranching.

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Epicob Agriculture is an agricultural production service. We grow crops and raise livestock on our clients' behalf. Therefore, please note that the funds you invest with us are NOT a deposit that's available on-demand, a purchase of equity or debt. Although comprehensive agricultural insurance is available for field crops and livestock in our custody, your deposits are not insured by Bank of Uganda or any other financial institution. As with all other investments, your portfolio with us may gain or lose value as commodity and/or input prices fluctuate, or as a result of adverse weather events that are outside our direct control. Please review our literature or interact with our Customer Services Group via live chat, phone or email for more information on how agricultural production and investing works.