4 Key Innovations in Food Production

Agriculture first arose around 13,000 years ago. As humans gradually gained control of the land and were able to grow more crops and raise more animals for food, the human population increased around the world. The following are four of the most important innovations in food production.


Irrigation, the process of directing water to crops, began about 8,000 years ago when Egyptians took advantage of the Nile River’s regular flood cycles. Modern irrigation includes a process known as drip irrigation where water drips from pipes directly onto plants. This method eliminates waste and allows the plans to receive the right amount of water directed straight to the roots.

Synthetic Fertilizer

Evidence suggests that manure was used as fertilizer beginning around 8,000 years ago. Modern synthetic fertilizers provide crops with key nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus. Although organic farming is growing, synthetic fertilizers are still widespread.

Transportation and Preservation Methods

Humans have been moving and storing food for nearly as long as we have been growing it. Ice has long been used to keep perishable food cold, but in the 1930s, mechanically cooling gained popularity. Refrigerated trucks now allow food to be shipped across the country while modern kitchen appliances keep meat, dairy and produce fresh for longer periods.

Large-Scale Processing Equipment

Not only can humans grow, move and store food, we also have the technology to transform ingredients into delicious recipes ready for widespread distribution. Food processing plants with conveyor belts and other machines allow companies to mass-produce food products. The ribbon mixer, for example, allows processing plants to blend ingredients into a homogeneous mixture with a pleasing texture and appearance.

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The above innovations have allowed human populations to control the food supply for millennia. From small communities growing and storing the annual harvest to modern corporations addressing food crises around the world, technological innovations allow more and more food to be produced.