The following is a short essay on the development of farming in Ancient Rome
The Romans were able to establish a very large empire. They employed a geometric system to lay out crop lands and also employed crop rotation. They were known to try and maximize land use which eventually lead to soil depletion. Like Greece, Italy has a large degree of mountainous terrain unfit for cultivation. The Romans during their reign imported much of their crops from subject countries to keep the empire feed. After Rome conquered Egypt, they were able to import enough wheat to give free grain to all of the one million Romans living in the capitol. (16F)
During the Roman time, much of the crops were raised on large estates know as latifundia (16F). The farms were staffed mostly by slaves from conquered countries. The estates often had a three levels. First there was the steward who ran the estate. Under him would be the field foreman and finally came the field workers. All of these were often slaves but each had different degrees of privilege and different amount of physical labor based on their level.
Most land around this area gets enough rainfall during the year to grow good crops. Water must be conserved though because it rains mostly in the winter so the water must be saved for the summer growing season. Most of the region is rolling hills so erosion is a large concern. Once forests are cleared the soil conservation needs to be in place each year to be sure the soil is not depleted. (2F)
The Romans realized that the soil would become depleted if it did not receive fertilization. They were one of the early civilizations to employ a type of mixed farming. They would use manure from their farm animals to help revitalize their soils. Yet the Romans did suffer from a decline in food production toward the end of their empire due to land overuse as noted by one author, "The fall of past civilizations, especially those of the Mediterranean region, was due in large part to bad management of the landscape." (pg. 58) (2F)