Russian steppe

Agriculture in the Russian Empire throughout the 19thth centuries represented a major world force yet it lagged behind other developed countries. Russia was amongst the largest exporters of agricultural produce, especially wheatwhile the Free Economic Society made continuing efforts to improve farming techniques.

Muzhik is plain traditional word that means just "man" mature male humanand in more civil language it can mean "plain man". The black-earth belt or chernozem stretched in a broad band north-east from the Romanian border to include Ukraine, Central Agricultural Region, Middle Volga, south-west Urals and south-western Siberia. In the non-black earth grain-deficit areas, with their poor soils, the peasants turned to cottage industry and increasingly factory industryas well as livestock breeding and the cultivation of vegetables and industrial crops, to make up their livelihoods.

Rye and oats were the traditional grains. Before the Emancipation of the serfs in wheat was mainly grown on the demesnes of the landlords of the grain-surplus areas, and mainly for export abroad. But during the 20th century wheat progressively replaced rye as the principal grain crop. Their cultivation spread steadily during the late 19th and earlier 20th centuries, and they were increasingly grown as part of improved crop rotations see below.

Flax and potatoes were grown in the west, north-west, Central Industrial Region and the Urals; sugar-beet in northern Ukraine and Central Agricultural region; sunflower in south-eastern Russia and southern Ukraine; cotton in central Asia and Transcaucasia.

By most vegetables and industrial crops were grown by the peasants. By this time sugar-beet was the only culture to be grown mainly on large estates and this too largely fell into peasant hands as a result of the Revolution. Before the mechanization of agriculture potatoes needed 64 man-days of labour a year per desyatin 1 desyatin is about 1.

This compared with only 30 and 23 man-days a year for winter and spring grain respectively. Throughout the 19th century the Russian wheat crop developed into a significant export commodity, with trading and shipping mainly in the hands of members of the Greek Diaspora from the Baltic SeaTaganrogand Odessa.

Traders and shippers, such as the Vagliano and Ralli Brothershelped to finance the international trade, with the Baltic Exchange of London developed the market for the Russian wheat crop, while hedging of Russian wheat through futures contracts helped establish the new American futures exchangesespecially during times of uncertainty. ByRussian wheat constituted At the same time, agricultural efficiency was lower in comparison with other developed countries e.

The growth observed in the beginning of the 20th century was driven mainly by the extensive development of agriculture stimulated by the Stolypin reformwhile the mechanization and agrarian culture remained relatively low. Further development was arrested by the dramatic historical events of the period: revolts, World War I and the Russian Revolution.

In most of Slavonic Russia the peasants practised the open field system. The fields lay beyond the village's houses and gardens. Here the peasants grew the extensive cereal cultures and, to a limited but increasing extent, row and industrial crops too.

The crops were protected from livestock by temporary fencing. After the harvest the peasants opened the land to let their animals graze on the stubble which provided manure for the soil as well. In addition to the arable land, there was some permanent pasture-land, waste [unutilized land] and, in non-steppe areas, woodland as well. Each household held its arable land as a number of strips scattered throughout the fields.

The strips were periodically redistributed by the mir plural miry so as to maintain equality among the households see Repartition. They were also narrow. The number of strips for each household varied from region to region.

In the centre and north there could be as many as 40 or Large numbers of narrow strips were the consequence of a strict egalitarianism in sharing out land of differing qualities.

The Steppe

Sometimes strips were too narrow for a harrow to travel along.The prairie of North America especially the shortgrass and mixed prairie is an example of a steppe, though it is not usually called such. A steppe may be semi-arid or covered with grass or with shrubs or with both, depending on the season and latitude. The term " steppe climate " denotes the climate encountered in regions too dry to support a forest but not dry enough to be a desert.

Steppe soils are typically of the chernozem type. Steppes are usually characterized by a semi-arid or continental climate. Besides this huge difference between summer and winter, the differences between day and night are also very great. Precipitation level alone does not define a steppe climate; potential evapotranspiration also plays a role. Steppe can be classified by climate: [2]. It can also be classified by vegetation type, e. The Eurasian Grass-Steppe of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands had a role in the spread of the horse, the wheeland the Indo-European languages.

The Indo-European expansion and diverse invasions of horse archer civilizations of the steppe eventually led to the rise of Mycenaean Greece by amalgamation of Indo-Europeans with the autochthonous pre-Greek population and also its destruction during the Dorian invasion in the Late Bronze Age collapsefollowed by the demise of the Achaeansthe spread of the Sea Peoplesand eventually the rise of Archaic and ultimately Classical Greece.

The inner parts of Anatolia in TurkeyCentral Anatolia and East Anatolia in particular and also some parts of Southeast Anatoliaas well as much of Armenia and Iran are largely dominated by cold steppe. Another large steppe area prairie is located in the central United Stateswestern Canada and northern part of Mexico. The shortgrass prairie steppe is the westernmost part of the Great Plains region.

In South Americacold steppe can be found in Patagonia and much of the high elevation regions east of the southern Andes. Relatively small steppe areas can be found in the interior of the South Island of New Zealand. In Europesome Mediterranean areas have a steppe-like vegetation, such as central Sicily in Italysouthern Portugalparts of Greece in the southern Athens area, [3] and central-eastern Spainespecially the southeastern coast around Murciaand places cut off from adequate moisture due to rain shadow effects such as Zaragoza.

In Asiaa subtropical steppe can be found in semi-arid lands that fringe the Thar Desert of the Indian subcontinent and the Badia of the Arabian peninsula. In Australia"subtropical steppe" can be found in a belt surrounding the most severe deserts of the continent and around the Musgrave Ranges.

In North America this environment is typical of transition areas between zones with a Mediterranean climate and true deserts, such as Reno, Nevadathe inner part of Californiaand much of western Texas and adjacent areas in Mexico. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the ecological zone type. For other uses, see Steppe disambiguation. This article needs additional citations for verification.

Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. In Shahgedanova, Maria ed. The Physical Geography of Northern Eurasia. Oxford regional environments. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 January There are many definitions of steppes.

For example, Allan provides fifty-four definitions of this term. Stamp and Clark define steppes as 'mid-latitude areas dominated by herbaceous vegetation and termed locally steppes, prairies, pampas, high veldts, downland, etc.The term "steppe" denotes grassland : a low-precipitation region with enough rain for grass, but not enough for trees see Climates and Biomes.

The rolling plains of the Steppe are occasionally pierced by mountains ; the most serious of these interruptions divides the region into the western Steppe which lies mainly in Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan and eastern Steppe which lies chiefly in Mongolia and China.

The eastern Steppe is drier and colder than its western counterpart; consequently, Steppe peoples historically tended to migrate westward. Eurasia can be divided into a number of standard major regions. Siberia the Asian part of Russia is a frigid land covered mainly in softwood forest, with tundra in the far north; prior to the Russian expansion, this region was populated by small nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers and reindeer herders.

Indeed, the Steppe gave rise to the largest nomadic tribes the world has ever seen. The traditional lifestyle of the Steppe is nomadic herding.

Eurasian Steppe

Grassland is ideal for such a lifestyle, as it provides a regenerating food supply for grazing animals. The vastness of the Steppe allowed tribes to maintain as many animals as they could manage, including sheep, goats, and cattle. On the other hand, the nomadic lifestyle of these tribes prevented civilization urban life from ever developing in the Steppe region prior to the modern age.

The most important animal for Steppe life was the horseused for both transportation and combat. Indeed, it was the Steppe tribes that achieved the domestication of the horse, as well as the innovation of riding horseback.

These advances diffused from the Steppe across the Old World. Prior to the age of gunpowder, cavalry was the world's supreme land-based military unit. The Steppe tribes thus held a great military advantage over settled cultures, in that they could easily maintain great herds of horses; settled peoples, on the other hand, were forced to incur the major expense of feeding horses with farmed grain.

Until the development of advanced gunpowder weapons, raids by Steppe tribes were a constant and serious danger to settlements across much of Eurasia. The primary form of traditional social organization on the Steppe is the tribe. When great numbers were needed, however e.

russian steppe

Tribal loyalties remained paramount, however, such that Steppe confederations were prone to civil war. Due to its military campaigns against neighbouring regions, the Steppe had a monumental impact on Eurasian history. The first of these campaigns was the great Indo-European expansion of ca.

One or two millennia prior to this expansion, the Indo-European language emerged in the western Steppe see Indo-European Languages.

russian steppe

Over time, Indo-European fractured into various new, descendant languages. Then, during the period ca.This lists the logos of programs or partners of NG Education which have provided or contributed the content on this page. Powered by. A steppe is a dry, grassy plain. Steppes occur in temperate climate s, which lie between the tropics and polar regions.

Temperate regions have distinct seasonal temperature changes, with cold winters and warm summers. Steppes are semi- aridmeaning they receive 25 to 50 centimeters inches of rain each year. This is enough rain to support short grass es, but not enough for tall grass es or trees to grow. Many kinds of grasses grow on steppes, but few grow taller than half a meter 20 inches.

Eurasian Steppe The largest temperate grassland in the world is the Eurasian steppeextend ing from Hungary to China. It reaches almost one-fifth of the way around the Earth. The Eurasian steppe is so well-known, the area is sometimes referred to as just The Steppe.

The Eurasian steppe has historically been one of the most important route s for travel and trade. The flat expanse provides an ideal route between Asia and Europe. Caravan s of horses, donkeys, and camels have traveled the Eurasian steppe for thousands of years. During the 13th century, Mongolian leader Genghis Khan conquer ed almost the entire Eurasian steppe.

With expert horsemen, Khan conquered territory from his home in what is now Mongolia, through China, Central Asia, and the land around the Caspian Sea. The equestrian culture that was so important to Genghis Khan is still important for most culture s native to the Eurasian steppe.

From the Mongolian tradition in the east to the Cossack traditions of western Russia, these cultures have relied on horses for travel, trade, and conquest on the vast steppe.

To this day, many festivals and community activities focus on horseback riding. The shortgrass prairie lies on the western edge of the Great Plains, in the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains.The Eurasian Steppealso called the Great Steppe or the steppesis the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. The Steppe route is a predecessor not only of the Silk Road which developed during antiquity and the Middle Agesbut also of the Eurasian Land Bridge in the modern era.

The Eurasian Steppe extends thousands of miles from near the mouth of the Danube almost to the Pacific Ocean. There is no clear southern boundary although the land becomes increasingly dry as one moves south. The steppe narrows at two points, dividing it into three major parts. On the east side of the former Sino-Soviet border mountains extend north almost to the forest zone with only limited grassland in Dzungaria.

Big mammals of the Eurasian steppe were the Przewalski's horsethe saiga antelopethe Mongolian gazellethe goitered gazellethe wild Bactrian camel and the onager. Furthermore, the Eurasian steppe is home to a great variety of bird species. Threatened bird species living there are for example the imperial eaglethe lesser kestrelthe great bustardthe pale-back pigeon and the white-throated bushchat. Przewalski horse. The primary domesticated animals raised were sheep and goats with fewer cattle than one might expect.

Camels were used in the drier areas for transport as far west as Astrakhan. There were some yaks along the edge of Tibet. The horse was used for transportation and warfare.

The horse was first domesticated on the Ponticā€”Caspian or Kazakh steppe sometime before BC, but it took a long time for mounted archery to develop and the process is not fully understood.

The stirrup does not seem to have been completely developed until AD see StirrupSaddleComposite bowDomestication of the horse and related articles. The World Wide Fund for Nature divides the Eurasian steppe's temperate grasslandssavannasand shrublands into a number of ecoregionsdistinguished by elevation, climate, rainfall, and other characteristics, and home to distinct animal and plant communities and species, and distinct habitat ecosystems.

For some purposes it is useful to treat Greater Iran as a separate region. All these regions are connected by the Eurasian Steppe route which was an active predecessor of the Silk Road. A minor branch went northwest along the great rivers and north of the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea.

When faced with a rich caravan the steppe nomads could either rob it, or tax it, or hire themselves out as guards.

History of the Steppe

Economically these three forms of taxation or parasitism amounted to the same thing. Trade was usually most vigorous when a strong empire controlled the steppe and reduced the number of petty chieftains preying on trade. The silk road first became significant and Chinese silk began reaching the Roman Empire about the time that the Emperor of Han pushed Chinese power west to the Tarim Basin.

The nomads would occasionally tolerate colonies of peasants on the steppe in the few areas where farming was possible. These were often captives who grew grain for their nomadic masters. Along the fringes there were areas that could be used for either plowland or grassland. These alternated between one and the other depending on the relative strength of the nomadic and agrarian heartlands. Over the last few hundred years, the Russian steppe and much of Inner Mongolia has been cultivated.

The fact that most of the Russian steppe is not irrigated implies that it was maintained as grasslands as a result of the military strength of the nomads. According to the most widely held hypothesis of the origin of the Indo-European languagesthe Kurgan hypothesistheir common ancestor is thought to have originated on the Pontic-Caspian steppe.

At the beginning of written history the entire steppe population west of Dzungaria spoke Iranian languages.

Ancient Peoples of the Russian Steppes

From about AD the Turkic languages replaced the Iranian languages first on the steppe, and later in the oases north of Iran. Additionally, Hungarian speakers, a branch of the Uralic language family, who previously lived in the steppe in what is now Southern Russia, settled in the Carpathian basin in year Mongolic languages are in Mongolia.

In Manchuria one finds Tungusic languages and some others.

russian steppe

Tengriism was introduced by Turko-Mongol nomads. Nestorianism and Manichaeism spread to the Tarim Basin and into China, but they never became established majority religions.The steppe crosses the Russian plain, south of the taiga, penetrating deep into Siberia. It comprises three main types, which run in roughly parallel bands from east to west: forest steppe in the north, through steppe, to semi -desert steppe in the south.

russian steppe

Within these belts, zones of temporary inundation on floodplains or in zones of internal drainage provide valuable hay land. The steppe was increasingly ploughed for crops during the twentieth century; initially crops were rotated with naturally regenerated grassland, but from mid-century cultivation was increasingly intensive. During the collective period, the emphasis was on industrial stock rearing, with housed cattle and high inputs; since decollectivization, intensive enterprises are closing for economic reasons, and systems have yet to stabilize.

If ploughed land is left undisturbed it will return naturally to steppe vegetation in six to fifteen years. Hay is very important for winter feed, and much is made from seasonally flooded meadows. Many marginal, semi-arid areas of the steppe have been put under crops, but are not economically viable; much of the cereals so produced are fed to livestock, but grain yields are very low and yield no more livestock products than would natural grassland, but at far higher cost.

Marginal cropland should return to grass. North of the Black and Caspian Seas, straddling both Don and Volga catchments, lies a stretch of steppe that saw some of the last horse-mounted nomadic tribes of Europe in action as late as the end of the fifteenth century. These were the Tatar of the Golden Horde. Then an equally heroic force, now of self-proclaimed free farmer-soldiers, whose mixed -farming with crop and livestock was community- and family-based, later called Cossacks, emerged to hold the newly acquired frontiers of Tsarist Russia.

Throughout history, the Russian steppe had been a natural boundary that deterred major civilizations or migrations from entering through its southern gateways. Not physical obstacles - in fact both Don and Volga are major navigable rivers and run from north to south - but the sheer size and emptiness of country that had to be traversed effectively separated the north from the south.

Although in search of new granaries, ancient Greek colonization did not extend much further than the coastal rims of the Black Sea. In a similar fashion, the empires of Rome and even nearby Byzantium made very few inroads into what would develop, at the start of this millennium, into the Russian heartland.

The only, yet major, exceptions were invasions by the Huns in the fourth and by the Mongols in the thirteenth century, but these emerged from the same long stretch of steppe, near its far eastern fringe. This vast Eurasian plain - with taiga in the north, forest in the middle and the steppe as its southern flank - stretches over 10 km from west to south east, from the Baltic Sea and crosses the Dnepr, Don and Volga rivers, deep into Siberia across the Urals, which convention has designated as the border between Europe and Asia Figure This chapter discusses the steppe; an overall description of Russian pastures and ruminant production systems is given in the Country Pasture Profile for the Russian Federation Blagoveshchenskii et al.

Truly virgin steppe has become a rarity, especially west of the Urals. The last major onslaught took place in the s, when huge campaigns to raise agricultural production led to 43 million hectares of steppe being sacrificed to the plough, seemingly for ever Maslov, It virtually meant the end of the virgin steppe in the Volga region, in Kazakhstan and western Siberia.

As part of the collateral damage, interest in and knowledge of the steppe as a natural resource became rare in the eyes of the authorities, and faded as the experts themselves passed from the scene. Should active extensification and steppe rehabilitation, of which there is little sign at present, appear at some stage again on the agendas, it will have to draw on the old literature records, such as are being recalled in this chapter. These records are of further importance as they developed independently from scientific and managerial thinking in the West, especially in the USA, where similar vegetation types seem to have given rise to quite different approaches, both in science and in management.

Recent literature from the Russian Federation on the subject is mostly related to satellite imagery and ecological modelling Gilmanov, Parton and Ojima, To avoid confusion, and because of the reliance here on older literature, the botanical names will be quoted as originally reported.

Consequently, we use Euagrypyron and Agropyron repens rather than Elytrigia repens. Current tendencies in Russian agriculture are that the large-style arable units of the former Kolkhozy and Sovkhozy collective production units are retained as the central and collective core, mainly for cereal production, with only a little livestock held centrally.

Livestock will be divorced further from the collective by the kolkhozniki themselves and become more family-based. Sooner or later, family herds will have to rely on family-run pastures, hayfields and by-products of their own arable operations. At present, communal and public grazing resource s are used by privately owned livestock. Is history repeating itself? Grazing rights shared out by or among the village community mir were typical of the pre-revolution era.

While the grazing land - and often the grazing itself - was communal, livestock were family-owned. Fenced-off grazing blocks and "ranches " were rare.

Although large landholdings in the more prosperous agricultural regions were the rule, landlords invariably had to cope with large resident communities of peasants and with their demands for cropland, pasture and hay for their cattle in return for labour.The generic title encompasses the varied ethnic groups who have at times inhabited the steppes of Central AsiaMongoliaand what is now Russia.

They domesticated the horse around BC, vastly increasing the possibilities of nomadic life, [2] [3] [4] and subsequently their economy and culture emphasised horse breedinghorse riding and nomadic pastoralism ; this usually involved trading with settled peoples around the steppe edges.

They developed the chariotwagoncavalry and horse archery and introduced innovations such as the bridlebit and stirrupand the very rapid rate at which innovations crossed the steppelands spread these widely, to be copied by settled peoples bordering the steppes. During the Iron AgeScythian cultures emerged among the Eurasian nomads, which was characterized by a distinct Scythian art.

Scythia was a loose state or federation covering most of the steppe that originated as early as 8th century BC, composed mainly of people speaking Iranian languagesand usually regarded as the first of the nomad empires. Europe was exposed to several waves of invasions by horse people, including the Cimmerians in the 8th century BCE, various peoples during the Migration periodthe Magyars in the Early Middle Agesthe Mongols and Seljuks in the High Middle Agesthe Kalmuks and the Kyrgyz and later the Kazakhs up to modern times.

The earliest example of an invasion by a horse people may have been by the Proto-Indo-Europeans themselves, following the domestication of the horse in the 4th millennium BCE see Kurgan hypothesis. The Cimmerians were the first invading equestrian steppe nomads that are known from historical sources. Historically, areas to the north of China including ManchuriaMongolia and Xinjiang were inhabited by nomadic tribes. Early periods in Chinese history involved conflict with the nomadic peoples to the west of the Wei valley.

Texts from the Zhou dynasty c. Subsequent studies noted that nomadic demand for graincerealstextiles and ironware exceeded China's demand for Steppe goods. Anatoly Khazanov identified this imbalance in production as the cause of instability in the Steppe nomadic cultures. Later scholars argued that peace along China's northern border largely depended on whether the nomads could obtain the essential grains and textiles they needed through peaceful means such as trade or intermarriage.

Several tribes organized to form the Xiongnua tribal confederation that gave the nomadic tribes the upper hand in their dealings with the settled agricultural Chinese people. Contemporary Tang sources noted the superiority of Turkic horses. Emperor Taizong wrote that the horses were "exceptionally superior to ordinary [horses]". The Xiajiasi Kyrgyz were a tributary tribe who controlled an area abundant in resources like goldtin and iron.

The Turks used the iron tribute paid by the Kyrgyz to make weapons, armor and saddle parts. Turks were nomadic hunters and would sometimes conceal military activities under the pretense of hunting. Their raids into China were organized by a khagan and success in these campaigns had a significant influence on a tribal leaders prestige. In the 6th c. The concept of "horse people" was of some importance in 19th century scholarship, in connection with the rediscovery of Germanic pagan culture by Romanticism see Viking revivalwhich idealised the Goths in particular as a heroic horse-people.

Tolkien 's Rohirrim may be seen as an idealised Germanic people influenced by these romantic notions.