Factors Affecting Agricultural Production and Landscapes

Unit 2


Some climates are good for agriculture and some climates are so extreme that they are only good for livestock farming.

  • Extreme cold: many plants cannot grow below 10ºC.

  • Excessive heat: most plants can’t survive in temperatures over 45ºC.

  • Humidity is important, but excessive precipitation could provoke the growth of weeds.


Agriculture is better suited to flat areas.

Mountainous areas are harder to cultivate and are difficult to access with machinery. The best agricultural activities for mountainous areas are livestock farming and forestry.

Soil and Vegetation

  • Soil is simply the portion of the earth’s surface consisting of disintegrated rock and humus, which is the dark organic material in soils.

  • Vegetation prevents erosion and the disappearance of soil and nutrients.

Human Factors

Population, technology, and society itself can influence agricultural production.


Due to the population explosion, the demand for agricultural products has increased dramatically. As a consequence, more land is needed for crops and for animals.

Some environmental problems

  • Deforestation

  • Danger of extinction for some species


Recent technological advances have helped to increase production and modify unfavorable natural conditions.

In traditional societies, the tools that are used are very simple (azada, hoz, arado, pozos, acequias).

In developed societies and in developed agricultural landscapes, we can find modern equipment such as tractors, harvesters, chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers, greenhouses.


The crops and foods that are produced are aimed at a specific society.

  • In the subsistence economy, the food that is produced is for the needs of the local people that live on the farm.

  • In the market economy, the food that is produced is for the markets. They usually specialize in one single product and try to produce high quantities.

Types of Agricultural Landscapes

Traditional Agricultural Landscapes

In general, a traditional landscape or subsistence landscape is characterized by its primitive technology, polyculture, low production, and high labor.

Itinerant or “slash and burn” agriculture.

We usually find irregular plots of land in the middle of equatorial and tropical rainforests.

First, you have to clear the forest, cut the trees and the bad weeds. Afterwards, the trees and the weeds are burnt, and the ashes fertilize the soil thanks to the rain. They plant crops for self-consumption.

The land is cultivated continuously and when it becomes exhausted the farmers move to another area and repeat all the process.

This system is only sustainable with a scarce population, as few people have at their disposal vast areas of tropical rainforest. We must also consider that after some years the farmers may return to the first plot of land that will be regenerated.

Dry Sedentary Agriculture

  • Location, crops, and others:

The most important fact about this system is that they are sedentary (obviously!). This fact is going to imply many other characteristics. As they don’t move, they will use natural manure and fallow so that the land doesn’t become infertile. Remember that we are talking about a traditional system, so they won’t use chemical fertilizers or irrigation systems.

The plots of land are small and near the houses. They produce for their subsistence (polyculture and subsistence) and they don’t use irrigation systems (remember that they are in dry climates and there is not much water). It is also extensive as they don’t invest and don’t try to obtain the maximum benefit from the land.

Monsoon Irrigation Agriculture

    • Location, crops, and others:

This agricultural landscape, although also traditional, is very different from the previous ones. They have high production, and it is intensive and monoculture.

The typical monsoon irrigation landscape is full of paddies.


The process is a little bit more complex. First, the rice is planted in a nursery and treated with manure. Meanwhile, the paddies are plowed, fertilized, and flooded (inundated). Then the plants are transplanted into the paddies and when they grow, the water is drained off and the rice is harvested and prepared for consumption.

It is intensive because they invest a lot of labor to obtain the maximum benefit. In this system, they can produce two or three harvests per year.

Developed Agricultural Landscapes

In this type of landscape, the farmers use advanced technology to produce for the market. Production is very high, but the labor is very low thanks to the use of machinery. The farmers specialize in one or two crops (monoculture).

The agriculture of new-world countries

  • Location, crops, and others:

This type of landscape is characterized by regular fields, with the use of the most advanced technology (machinery, fertilizers, pesticides, selection of seeds, GMOs…). Because of this, the production is very high, and the need for labor is very low. It’s a market economy, as they produce for the market and try to obtain the maximum benefit. It’s also monoculture and depending on the type of crop, process, and production, it can be intensive or extensive.

Plantation Agriculture

  • Location, crops, and others:

These plots of land are large; the technology is very advanced as the plantation belongs to multinational companies. Although there is a high level of technology, they also require high labor, as some tasks can’t be done by machines.

The multinationals that own the plantations have a market mentality and try to obtain the maximum benefit. They obtain cheap labor and cheap crops in developing countries and sell the manufactured products (tobacco, chocolate, at high prices in developed countries.

Other Types of Agricultural Landscapes

Some examples are Greenhouse Agriculture, Mediterranean irrigation agriculture, Organic Agriculture, Orchard Agriculture…

  • Extensive Livestock Farming: the livestock grazes in the open air. It doesn’t require much investment in stables, facilities, or labor. It is very typical in the prairies of North America, in Australia, and in the Pampas of Argentina.

  • Intensive Livestock Farming: livestock is sheltered in stables and fed with animal feed. It requires more investment in labor, stables, facilities, veterinary care, selection of breeds, animal feed, technology…

The farms are usually near the cities to reduce transport costs.

Unit 3


Mining is the process of locating, extracting, and refining the rocks and minerals that are in the ground.

Energy Production

Energy production is the process of transforming different types of fuel into forms of energy.

Intermediate Goods Industries

Intermediate goods industries make goods used by other industries. It is sold to industries that make finished products. The industry that produces large quantities of intermediate goods is known as heavy industry.

Consumer Goods

Goods ready for consumption. These industries are examples of light industry.

Cutting-edge Industries

Cutting-edge industries use advanced technology.

Most industries are run by businesses and corporations.