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How important are physical factors in the creation of agricultural land use patterns?

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Introduction

Agriculture Essay How important are physical factors in the creation of agricultural land use patterns? Although technology has allowed farmers to grow crops in situations that they previously would not have been able to, the physical environment has a very important part to play on what is grown and how land is used on a farm. To determine how important they are to the creation of agricultural land use patterns it is necessary to investigate how they effect agricultural land use patterns. It is also necessary to investigate what other factors effect the land use so that they can be weighed up together and the extent to which the physical factors effect it can be assessed. Firstly I shall look at the physical factors which are likely to have an effect on farming and for each of these factors I will suggest how they effect the farm and the crops which are grown there. Crops require specific conditions to grow to their potential. These conditions can be summed up into three categories: * Relief * Climate * Soil I shall investigate each of these factors individually before considering the other factors which effect land use patterns. Relief The relief includes the altitude, aspect and slope which the crops are grown on. All crops will be effected by these factors. This is because all crops are effected by the temperature and therefore because as temperature drops as you go up in altitude (approximately 6oC every 1000m up) ...read more.

Middle

Extreme examples of this are cacti and water reeds. If you tried to grow either of these in the wrong amount of water you would not be able to. For this reason farmers choose which crops they are going to grow carefully depending on the type of climate which their farm is in. This factor however does not effect the land use as greatly as some of the other factors because the farmer can partly control the amount of water which his land has by using irrigation and drainage systems. The wind is also important to the farmer in determining what he can use his land for. This is because plants can be damaged by strong winds. This is another reason that exposed slopes are not used for arable farming. However one thing that farmers can do to combat the wind on a farm is to introduce wind breakers to help protect their crops. The amount of sunlight is possibly the most important factor for a farmer to consider because without sunlight plants cannot photosynthesise which means that they will not be able to grow. The amount of sunlight depends on a few things. The main one is the latitude of the farm. The tilt of the earth alters the amount of sunlight that different parts of the world get at different times of the year. Also other physical landforms can cast shadows when otherwise there would not be. For example a mountain would cast a shadow over the land behind it, this would make the average temperature of that land lower than it would otherwise be. ...read more.

Conclusion

Having discussed the physical factors it is necessary to mention some of the more important other factors so that a comparison can be made. Many of these other factors are human controlled factors, some of which I have already mentioned. Human factors include things such as management of the farm, machinery, policies and markets. The farm management is mainly down to the farmer. He will control what he uses the land for, what he puts on the land (pesticides, fertilisers etc) and how he farms the land. What the land is used for will mainly be down to the type of land he has and many of the factors which I considered above. What he puts on the land in terms of fertilisers will depend on what is being grown, which in turn depends on the type of land. How he farms the land (extensive/ intensive and machinery used) will depend on what the land is used for and also the relief. Therefore in conclusion to this question I believe that the physical factors are very important to the creation of agricultural land use patterns. This is primarily due to farming being based around what the farmer already has to use (the physical factors) and any of the human influences are used to compliment or counter the physical factors. Therefore everything the farmer does is influenced either directly or indirectly by the physical environment he has to work with. This means that the physical factors acting upon a farm are the most important factor in determining agricultural land use patterns. Mark Johnston 01/05/2007 1 ...read more.

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