Agriculture words and meanings III


by Kim Cooper

In any sector of life we are in, we become familiar with words and phrases used in that sector that we take for granted but others might not fully understand. Agriculture is no exception, so let’s go over some general definitions as it relates to farming. Thank you to Farm and Food Care Ontario for their help with this.

Hectare - A metric measure of area equal to 10,000 square meters. One hectare = 2.47 acres.

Heifer - A young female bovine that has not yet had a calf.

Herbicide - Any pesticide used to destroy or inhibit plant growth; a weed killer.

Holstein - The black and white breed of dairy cows, most commonly seen on dairy farms in Canada.

Hybrid - Plants produced by crossing two or more inbred lines of plants that are genetically quite different.

Insecticide - A pesticide used to kill, deter, or control insects.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) - A system of managing pests (weeds, insects, disease, fungus, nematodes, rodents) that involves more than one control method – mechanical (e.g. tillage), cultural (e.g. using certified seed), biological (e.g. use of a pest’s natural enemies), or chemical (e.g. pesticides) – in a program that is both economically and environmentally sound. Prevention is the key to IPM and farmers work hard to identify which pests may cause problems in their fields, and which are harmless.

Irrigation - Applying water (or wastewater) to land areas to supply water to the plants.

Kid - A newborn goat.

Lamb - A sheep under one year of age.

Layer farm - This is where laying hens are housed. Hens lay eggs for 52 to 60 weeks. During this time they will produce about 300 eggs.

Laying hen - The term used to describe a hen after she starts laying eggs at 18-20 weeks of age.

Litter - A group of piglets born at one time from the same sow.

Manure - The original fertilizer. When used correctly, it builds organic matter, which helps hold water and nutrients in the soil. Manure contains three major nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and also adds valuable organic matter to the soil.

Marginal land - Land that is too hilly, wet, or contains soils that are fragile and of lower quality for crop production.

Market Hog - Either a barrow (neutered male pig) or gilt (female pig that hasn’t given birth) that is raised for meat production.

Mutton - Meat from mature sheep (not lambs).

N, P, K – Nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K); the three major nutrients in manure and commercial fertilizers.

Nutrient - Any chemical element or compound essential to the growth and development of an organism.

Nutrient Management - A plan designed specifically for an individual farm by each farmer that helps them determine how much manure they can use on their land. The plan tells them the right amount of fertilizer plants require in order to grow a healthy and plentiful crop in an environmentally-friendly way.

Next week, some more agricultural terms to fill your brain.

Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our agricultural website –

Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 45 years. He can be reached at:

You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’

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