Agriculture and Food Production

  • Created by: geog_nut
  • Created on: 15-10-19 13:11

Types of Agriculture

  • Arable farming grows crops, eg wheat and barley
  • Pastoral farming is raising animals, eg cows and sheep
  • Mixed farming is both arable and pastoral

Agriculture can be intensive or extensive:

  • Intensive agriculture uses small areas of land with lots of expensive inputs, eg market gardening
  • Extensive agriculture uses large areas of land with fewer inputs needed, eg hill sheep farming
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Factors affecting agriculture

Physical and human factors affecting farming

Physical - Climate, relief (shape of the land), soil, aspect (direction land is facing) and drainage/rock type

Human - distance to the market, labour supply, machinery/technology, grants and subsidies and market price.


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Farming Systems

Every type of farming as a system. This is inputs, processes and outputs. See diagram below

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Food Shortages - Causes

Natural/physical factors:

  • Drought and unreliable rainfall - crop yields are reduced dramatically
  • Tropical hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons - can devastate farm land and crops
  • Floods 
  • Pests and disease - prey on crops e.g. locusts

Human factors

  • Soil erosion and loss of soil fertility - land has been cleared for agriculture. Over use of the land for crops or livestock causes soil fertility to be lost and erosion of the land from wind.
  • Rural poverty - lack of money to invest in irrigation, or buy expensive fertilisers. 
  • War - Farmers have to leave their homes and so impossible for crops to grow and rear animals.
  • Increasing population - demand for food is increasing however land is still losing fertility and so crop yields are still low.
  • Volatile global food prices - prices fluctuate dramatically. 
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Food Shortages - Impacts

  • Starvation
  • Not enough food to keep peopel healthy - malnutrition
  • People are less able to resist diseases and can suffer from protein and vitamin deficiency
  • They can't work due to illness and so cannot afford food or medicine
  • Farmers can't grow crops due to illness and so less food
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Food Shortages - Solutions

  • Short term food aid - delivered directly to those people affected.
  • Long term food aid - given to the government of an LIC to sell in local markets.

Appropriate Technology

  • Small earth dams - to provide basic irrigation
  • Inter-cropping - use more than one crop so the soil does not lose its fertility
  • Layer cropping - Several types and sizes of crops are grown
  • Improve food storage
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Green Revolution

The Green Revolution development HYV (High yield varieties) of seeds e.g. rice, maize and wheat.

These crops were:

  • resistant to drought
  • high yielding (produced more crop)
  • had a shorter growing season - allowing more crops to be grown in a year in some areas
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Green Revolution - Positive results

  • Farm incomes increased, increasing standard ot living
  • Increased yields
  • Stopped food shortages in some areas
  • Increased employment on farms
  • Paid for machinery, fertilisers etc
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Green Revolution - Negative Results

  • The seeds (High yielding varieties) needed more expensive inputs e.g. fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides
  • The mechanisation (use of machines) on the farms has increased unmeployment overtime.
  • Poorer farmers are forced to leave the rural areas to go to the cities
  • Rich farmers became richer and poor farmers remained poor.
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Irrigation - an artificial application of water to the soil

Types of irrigation 

  • Surface - sprinklers
  • Drip 
  • Subsurface drip - buried in the ground
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Irrigation - Problems with Salination

Overuse and poor irrigation practises have led to increased salt content in the soil, reducing the productivity of the land. 

It is caused by water soaking through the soil level adding to the ground water below. This causes the water table to rise, bringing dissolved salts to the surface. As the irrigated area dries, the salt remains. 

This is harmful to plants/crops. 

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