Define the term agricultural productivity and describe how it varies between different parts of the world.
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Agriculture Essay Define the term agricultural productivity and describe how it varies between different parts of the world. Agricultural productivity is the term given to the output of agriculture in terms of the inputs such as the capital and labour. Therefore as a fairly general comment, this could be defined as the efficiency of the farm. This varies in different parts of the world, and this can be put down mainly to the amount of capital the farm owner has. Although there are other factors involved a lot of them are dependent on the amount of capital available. For example in MEDCs such as the UK a lot of farms are owned by wealthy people who can afford to buy machinery. This enables the farm to run more efficiently as the processes on the farm can be completed at a quicker rate and therefore the labour efficiency becomes better as one person can perform more work in one day than if no machinery was available. This in turn then saves the employee money as less staff have to be hired so therefore the wage bill is lower. On the other hand in many LEDCs many farms are used to provide food for the family of the owner, and not primarily to create a profit (although this may occur during a good harvest).
This would be because each plant needs a certain amount of water to grow to its full potential, therefore if there is a limited amount of water the farmer has the choice of planting lots of plants and none of them reaching their full potential or he could plant less plants so they could all reach their potential. As well as precipitation the relief of an area plays an important part in what can be grown. The steeper a slope the less that can be grown. This means that terracing is often used to provide flat areas of land on what would otherwise be sloped land. this provides greater productivity for that area of land as more plants can be grown and the land is easier to work. This method however is found more in LEDCs than MEDCs on intensive farms as machinery cannot easily be used. Also the addition of fertiliser could aid the growth of plants and therefore productivity. This could help due to the fact that plants require many nutrients to help their growth and these could be provided by the fertilisers. This is useful wherever plants are grown as no soil contains perfect concentrations of all of the nutrients required.
The use of machinery greatly increases the speed at which things can be done, and although this does not increase productivity on an area of land, it means that more land can be farmed in the same space of time which therefore would increase the productivity. Many of the methods mentioned above are expensive and are used in extensive farming. In LEDCs however they may not be able o afford to do many of the things mentioned above. A way around this problem is to farm the land intensively, and this means that more crops can be grown in a smaller space as they have more attention from the farmer. This would cause the productivity to be greater because the yield per area would be greater on an intensive farm than it would be on an extensive farm. One problem with this is that although the productivity per area would be higher the productivity per labourer would be lower. Many methods of increasing productivity are used around the world, and some work better than others. However it is not possible to say that one is better than the other as it depends on the factors effecting a particular area of land and this alters tremendously around the world. Therefore before any method is applied the farmer must assess what is required, and which one would suit his farm best to increase agricultural productivity. Mark Johnston 01/05/2007 1
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