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Contrasting agricultural food production systems - commercial, subsistence, intensive, extensive, arable, livestock, mixed farming Think about it!
Modern farms operate very much as a system and have marked inputs, processes and outputs.  The inputs can be divided into physical and human factors, which vary widely from country to country and place to place
Factors affecting farming
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Farms as systems
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Types of farming system
Physical factors Human factors
Temperature - this is critical for plant growth as all crops have a minimum temperature in which they will grow and a minimum growing season.  In Britain, wheat and Barley will only grow when the average temperature is above 6C.  This ties in closely with growing season, the amount of time between the last frost of spring and the first in autumn.  Within the Tropics there is an almost continuous growing season, and the length diminishes as you move North and South in Latitude.
Rainfall amount - few crops can grow where there is less than 250mm of rainfall a year ( Koppen's classification of a desert) and grasses will predominate above these figure.  Trees and fruits require greater amounts. 
Rainfall variability - when rainfall comes is another critical factor in determining the types of crops grown.  The Mediterranean has a huge summer drought which can limit growth, but reasonable yearly totals of precipitation. The type of precipitation is important - snow an hail can actually damage crops.
Gradient - Steep gradients tend to encourage pastoral farming as machinery can only really work on slopes under 11. In South East Asia Terracing has been used to overcome this problem where population densities are high and pressure on lowlands is high.
Wind - Strong winds can damage plants and increase evapotranspiration rates.  The Mistral brings cold winds to the South of France which can affect the Mediterranean crops which grow there.
Soils - farming depends upon the depth, stoniness, texture, water retention capacity, pH and mineral content of soils.
Capital - Money to rent or buy materials and machinery can have a massive impact upon farming systems.
Land tenure - who owns the land is a critical factor in what is grown and why. In Communist China in 1958 farming was run along the lines of Peoples communes, where a whole community farmed the land collectively and shared the produce.  They were also responsible for research, organising housing and services and irrigation/flood control. This changed to household responsibility in 1979 where families run farms along private means as businesses.  This has led to increases in productivity and standards of living.
Inheritance laws - who inherits land once a landowner dies is a critical factor affecting farming.  In many countries land is passed on to several siblings and this leads to the fragmentation of land into smaller, less efficient and less profitable plots.
Farm size - This is critical, as larger farms tend to be more efficient as they can take advantage of economies of scale.  In MEDCs large commercial farms are run along these lines.
Technology - investment in technology can make different forms of crop or pastoral farming possible in areas where they previously were not.  The Green Revolution has transformed agriculture in certain parts of the world and is tied in with technological innovation.
State influence - can control prices (e.g. in the UK we used to have the Milk Board), investment and what is grown (e.g. The CAP)
 

These factors are also affected by varying levels of state interference, they role of the market and demand, and transport innovations.  The processes that occur can have a huge influence on the productivity of the farming, and many of the processes can have feedback loops into the inputs that are either positive or negative.  For example, if Oxen are used in low tech farming their dung can be used as  a positive feedback as fertiliser.  However, in intensive farming the use of pesticides can kill all pests which could negatively affect other parts of farm ecosystems.

The Types of Farming

Intensive - A high amount of INPUTS are put into these systems so that outputs are maximised.  In  Poorer nations this has traditionally been Labour Intensive, where huge amounts of man power are put into the system to maximise output. In richer nations this tends to be Capital Intensive, where huge amounts of money for resources and technology are put into the systems to maximise outputs.

Extensive - This farming uses large areas of land with low inputs and outputs per unit area of land.

Commercial - This type of farming is where produce is reared or grown for sale.  This ranges from small family farms to huge TNC backed farming corporations.

Subsistence - This is where the food grown is largely for the consumption by the people growing it, with little or no surplus for sale

Arable - the growth of crops such as Barley, Wheat, Rice, cotton.

Pastoral - The rearing of animals for their milk, eggs, skins, meat etc.

Mixed - a combination of growing crops and keeping animals.

 

Examples

Research farming in India and the British isles to cover a range of different farming types.  For each type complete a table found here and add its location to the base maps found below.

 
India   The British Isles
Map of India
Rice farming in India case study
India's green revolution
India's Commercial farming ventures - includes Pepsico case study.
Crofting in Scotland
Aviaries mixed farm
East Bog Farm and Bradley Farm - Pastoral hill farming
Marwood House - Horticulture
Lynford House farm - a massive Arable farm
 
Review - complete the Diamond Ranking exercise for each of the farms you researched for India and the British Isles.  Print screen the end result each time and paste them under your chart.  
 


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