Environmental Factors Cultural Factors Economic Factors
Physical Factors Affecting Farming
Critical for plant growth because each plant or crop type requires a minimum growing temperature.
In temperate latitudes this is 6°C. Below this members of the grass family, including cereals, cannot grow.
Growing Season – the number of days between the last frost of spring and first frost of autumn.
Growing season varies by crop; Cotton needs 200, Spring Wheat needs 90.
Precipitation / Water Supply The Mean annual rainfall for an area determines whether farming is likely to be based upon tree crops, grass, cereals or irrigation. Few crops can grow when there is less than 250mm a year. Seasonal distribution is more significant than annual total. Long steady periods of rain allow the water to soak into the soil. Short heavy downpours lead to surface runoff and soil erosion.
Altitude Growth is controlled by decrease in temperature at height. In Britain few grasses (including hay) can produce commercial yields above 300m. In warmer latitudes wheat can ripen at 3000m.
Wind Wind increases evapotranspiration rate. This allows the soil to dry out and to become vulnerable to erosion. Some winds are beneficial to agriculture, e.g. Chinook. Melts snow on the prairies, lengthening the growing season.
Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting Farming
Land Tenure Who owns the land? Farmers may be owner-occupiers, tenants, landless labourers or state employees on the land which they farm. Cash Tenancy Share Cropping
Inheritance Laws and Farm Size
Economic Factors Affecting Farming
Transport Types of transport available, time taken, and the cost of moving raw materials. For perishable commodities (e.g. Milk) an efficient transport network is an necessity. For bulky goods (e.g. Potatoes) transport costs must be lower for outputs to be profitable. Items should be grown as close to market as possible.
Markets Role of the market is closely linked with transport. Market demand depends on size and affluence of the market population. It also depends on religious and cultural beliefs.
Technology Technological developments such as new strains of seed, cross-breeding of animals, improved machinery and irrigation may extend the areas of optimal conditions and the limits of production (Green Revolution). Lack of capital may mean that countries are unable to take advantage of these developments.
Governments In centrally planned governments it is the state not the individual that makes the farming decision. EU quotas and subsidies can affect crop choice.
To what extent do you agree with the assertion that Economic Factors are more important that Physical Factors in food production.