Farming is the cultivation of food crops, livestock, poultry and inedible crops such as cotton, tobacco and flax. We can say that the farming is the process of producing food and fiber from the land.
Farming is one of the man’s oldest occupations. Man probably first began to raise crops and animals about 10,000 years ago. Today, farming is the largest and most important of all occupations. It is estimated that three out of every four persons throughout the world live on farms. Presently, there are about 3 million farms in the US, of which 95% sell more than $2,500 worth of farm products annually.
In many regions of the world, farmers still use primitive tools and methods, some of which have not changed since the stone ages e.g., hand rack and bull cart etc. In more technologically advanced areas new scientific tools and techniques are constantly being developed.
Farming is of critical importance as the major source of food for people in all nations. More than 90% of the total world supply of food comes from farms including ranches; the rest comes from fishing and hunting.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF FARMING
Because the world population is growing still at near the fastest rate in history and the aggregate net population growth is increasing year by year, there is critical need for development of farming and for efficient use of the resources devoted to agricultural or farming use.
It may be assumed that the food problems of the world are manageable if appropriate attention is given to development of farming and to the services required for the marketing and for supply of inputs to farms and if rates of population-increase are eventually brought under control.
Sustained growth of farming requires that improved technology be developed for all major phases or factors of production. This includes development and adaptation of new varieties of crops, improvements in fertilizer production and distribution, appropriate use of chemicals for plant and animal protection, more efficient water management and improved methods of plant and animal culture. The development of farming as a central means of solving the world’s hunger, malnutrition and poverty problems is one of the most critical needs of this generation.
TYPES OF FARMING
SHIFTING CULTIVATION OR PRIMITIVE SUBSISTENCE FARMING
Shifting Cultivation is one of the most primitive (ancient) types of agriculture or farming practised in Southeast Asia, Central Africa and tropical America. Shifting cultivation is the first endeavor of people to control static resources, i.e., the bounty of the land. It manifests only rudimentary (basic) technical management of the land, and limited amount of time, effort and capital are devoted to this activity. Unlike other economic activities, shifting cultivation is still practised widely in the modern world.
Its chief characteristic is that the new land is cleared usually from forest, cultivated for one to three years and then abandon. A new plot of land is then cleared and again abandoned after a few years. It is in this way that the shifting cultivation goes on from forest to forest and plot to plot.
The selection of land is done by experienced persons, since every land is not suited for shifting cultivation. A virgin forest with less or little undergrowth is the first choice. In an untouched forestland, fertility is ensured and little undergrowth makes the clearance of forest an easy job. Clearing starts after the rainy season. Tall trees are felled and then burnt down with other trees and bushes. Burning results in an accumulation of ashes, which add potash to the soil. Clearing is done by a group of persons or a tribe. Cleared land is then divided among various families, which start sowing. Usually they dig holes and put into them the seeds of various crops, which are mixed together. Occasionally, ridges are made on which seeds are sown. This is done immediately before rains, so that the seeds may germinate with the first rain. Various crops become ready for harvesting at different periods and are harvested accordingly.
Rice in Asia, millet in Africa, and maize in America are the important crops. Other crops are beans, peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, yams, cotton etc. Some root crops are also grown. The crops have to be protected against birds, rats, ants and other small animals.
Implements that they use are very crude and include digging sticks, spades, hoes, picks etc. All the work is done by human muscles. No farm animals are used. Chickens, ducks and fowls are kept.
After a few years, ranging from 1 to 3, the land gets exhausted. The soils are washed away and the plot has to be abandoned. The fields so abandoned are cultivated again, after 4 to 5 years or even after longer periods.
Today there are three broad regions where shifting cultivation can be found. The largest and most populous is in Central Africa. Straddling (having ½ on each side) the equator, nearly half of the continent lies in this zone.
The second major region lies in Southeast Asia and the adjacent offshore islands, from Sumatra eastward through Borneo, Papua New Guinea, the New Hebrides (now called Vanuatu), and numerous tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean. On the mainland of Asia, shifting cultivation tends to be confined to the interior of Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and adjacent portions of India and China.
The third region where shifting cultivation is practised embraces most of the Amazon Basin, reaching from the Atlantic Coast to the Andes Mountains and from Bolivia to Venezuela. The practice of shifting agriculture is also found in Ecuador and Columbia and extends northwards through Central America into Southern Mexico. A small part of the West Indies is also included. It is generally recognized here as well as in other major regions, that shifting cultivation is the prevailing activity, but it co-exists with other forms of economic livelihood.
Recent estimates by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) indicate that nearly 200 million people make their living by this system of agriculture. The FAO also reports that shifting cultivators occupy 33 million km2 of land, which is nearly twice the total area of the world’s permanent cropland. This statistic illustrates the low population densities of these areas and the extensive character of the economic activities. Of the 200 million shifting cultivators, it is estimated that perhaps 75% live in Africa, with most of the remainder in Asia. The region possessing the fewest shifting cultivators is Latin America.
It is a very primitive, crude and exhaustive type of farming. It encourages erosion and destroys forest wealth. Such a system of agriculture makes poor use of land, and it yields only a very simple livelihood. The areas of primitive subsistence farming are probably the most backward in the world, but they are also among the most thinly populated, so the number of people who live by this form of agriculture is very small; perhaps less than 1% of the world’s population.
Shifting cultivators have long known that the fire is a simple method of clearing land of wild vegetation. Unfortunately they also believe that ashes provide a good fertilizer for the soils. Ash helps a little, but because the organic matter in the soil is combustible, the fire also acts to partially destroy its fertility.
This type of agriculture is known as Thuming in Bangladesh, Taungya in Burma, Ladang in Indonesia, Zande in Africa and Milpo in Americas.
This type of farming indicates the poor means of the farmer or uneconomic holding at his disposal. It is also known as the Domestic Farming, because such farming was originally carried on to meet the domestic requirements of the farmers. But gradually this concept has changed. Now the surplus produced is sold in the home and foreign market also. This type of farming is mostly practised in monsoon land of Asia.
A striking feature of farming in monsoon lands is the tillage (cultivation) of small holdings, which is one of the chief causes of rural poverty. Dense population mostly comprising of agriculturists; small capital resources, high percentage of tenancy (leasing), high rate of interest, and high rents make it practically impossible for the individual farmers to secure more land area.
Most farm labor is family itself, which averages from 4 to 7 persons. No outside labor is employed. Further, these small farms are sub-divided into small patches of land separated only by low ridges or dikes on the top of which are footpaths.
Implements and Products
Quite old and simple implements are used. Animals like oxen or horses are used for drawing plough. Scarce resources do not permit the costly use of machinery or other labor saving devices. The farmer has mostly to depend on weather condition and also cannot improve soil by using latest fertilizers.
Rice, wheat, millet, maize, beans, pulses, fruit, barley, oil seeds, sweet potatoes and vegetables are commonly grown in subsistence farming. Rice is the most important product of this type of farming in monsoon lands. In some areas sugarcane and cotton are also produced.
Just to supplement the income, poultry farms and dairy cattle industries are also found as the agricultural activities. This side activity is not unknown in Pakistan and India. In the villages, cows, goats, hens, ducks, and buffaloes are seen almost in every house. In China and Japan, importance for farm animals is not felt yet. Horses, sheep and goats are found but in negligible number.
Besides the above said activities, the farmers also scour wool, spin yarn, tan leather, weave cloth and also undertake tailoring and carpenting works. They work in the field during farming season and the rest of the time is utilized for carrying a number of other works to supplement their income and to meet the local requirements.
Farming in which a comparatively large amount of labor and working capital is used per tillable acre of farmland is called Intensive Farming. It is a system of farming aimed at raising yield per unit area.
Intensive farming is common in areas where land is scarce, such as in Asia, and where land is expensive or the crop is costly to produce, such as on the irrigated track farms of California. The farmer uses almost every foot of land and attempts to produce as large a crop as possible on the available land. In Europe, farming must be intensive, for most farms are small and many people live in a small area.
1. Intensive farms tend to be relatively small and very efficient.
2. An intensive farmer tries to get a large crop from small piece of land. He spends much labor and material on it.
3. Farming often has to be intensive where the land is scarce.
4. When a farmer devotes a great deal of labor to a piece of land, he is practicing intensive farming.
5. Intensive agriculture usually goes together with small farms.
6. A great deal of careful work is always involved in intensive farming. Often this work must be done by hand.
7. In some cases more than one crop a year is grown on the same land.
8. Intensive farming demands a great deal of labor and high expenses for each acre of land.
9. The yield per acre is also usually high. The farmer hopes to get a high return, but it depends on the market for his crop.
10. Intensive agriculture can also be practised on a large scale, as on large fruit or vegetable farms.
11. Vegetables, small fruits and other crops that have a comparatively short growing season are produced by intensive farming.
12. Intensive farming is specially successful in dairy farming, fruit growing, truck farming, and for irrigated land.
1. Commercial egg production, where thousands of hens may be kept in buildings on a lot, the size of a city block, is an example of intensive farming.
2. The old time southern plantations were examples of large scale intensive agriculture.
3. The raising of apples is a good example of intensive farming or fruit growing, the grower aims to raise the largest possible amount of fruit that can be sold. To do this he must give careful attention to the orchard and make wise use of cover crops. For a good crop, he must not overlook pruning, spraying and cultivation. These suggestions are just as good for raising peaches, pears, plums, grapes and small fruits such as strawberries.
4. All truck farming has to be intensive. Success depends on fertile soil, constant and thorough cultivation, and wise use of fertilizer. Crops like onions, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, and cauliflower occasionally bring a profit of several thousand rupees an acre when they are cared-for properly and prices are favorable.
5. All land under irrigation is farmed intensively. Water for irrigation means an additional cost, so the farmer must grow highly profitable crops.
Farming in which a relatively small amount of labor is spread over a large tract of land is called Extensive Farming. This type of farming is based on the use of a big area of land with minimum upkeep and expenses.
Extensive farming is characteristic of large wheat farms in the Great Plains area and in other parts of the world where rainfall is likely to be a limiting factor.
Extensive farming consists of cultivating large tracts of land, but often the yields per acre are lower than those of intensive farming.
An extensive farmer spreads the same amount of labor and materials, as an intensive farmer, but he grows less per acre than the intensive farmer does.
Farmer can be extensive only where land is plentiful.
When a farmer works on a large area of land with relatively little labor, he is practicing extensive farming.
Extensive agriculture is usually practised on large farms or ranches where most of the work is done by machinery.
There is work at planting time and harvesting time. Otherwise the crops need little attention.
Extensive farming does not yield as great a return per acre of land as intensive farming, but it requires much less work per acre.
The large farms that raise wheat and other grain crops in the mid-western United States, and Canada’s Prairie provinces are good examples of Extensive farming.
Raising cattle on the range is another example of extensive farming.
Mixed farming practised in east central USA is an example of extensive farming.
Of all economic endeavors, gathering requires the least amount of capital investment and effort, but considerable space is required. It is an example of extensive farming, requiring a large quantity of land to support each person. Gathering persists primarily in isolated pockets in the low latitudes, including the territories of some Indian tribes dispersed throughout Amazon Basin (Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela), together with a few stretches within tropical Africa, the northern fringe of Australia, the interior of New Guinea, and the interior portion of southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand and China).
Difference between Intensive and Extensive Farming
The difference between intensive and extensive farming refers to the degree to which land and labor are utilized to produce food. Extensive farming uses a lot of land in relation to the product yields, whereas intensive farming yields considerable output through greater labor and technology investment. (also see Notes)
INTENSIVE SUBSISTENCE FARMING
Intensive subsistence farming is mostly practised in the monsoon lands of Asia. It is a very intensive type of farming. The classic farms of intensive subsistence agriculture, found today in Pakistan, China, India, southeast Asia, Korea and Japan involve high levels of output per unit of land. This intensive use of land produces relatively large yields per acre, but frequently little surplus occur because of the vast food needs of the tremendous domestic population that is supported by this agricultural system. In Japan, however, considerable surpluses do exist, owing to the impact of modern practices, including the use of hybrid seeds, mechanization, modern irrigation practices and commercial fertilizers.
Implements and Crops
A family comprising 5 to 7 members has on an average 2 acres of land, which is also not in a single plot but is dispersed over a large area in small plots. So the use of modern farm machinery is difficult. A wooden plough drawn by a pair of oxen is the most important agricultural implement to which spades, sickles and hoes may be added to complete the picture. Most of the work from preparation of field to harvesting and the sowing of crops are done by manual labor.
Rice is the most distinctive crop of the rainier parts and wheat of the drier parts. Millets, maize, gram, pulses, oil seeds, barley, sweet potatoes, vegetables and fruits are other crops.
Animals do not form an inseparable part of the farm unlike north western Europe. Cattle are kept by many farmers in India and Pakistan. In China and Japan, farm animals, all the more, go in background. Horses, sheep and goats are found in negligible number.
Cropping methods and the types of crops grown, distinguish intensive subsistence farming from other types. Rice is typically the principal crop.
The highest yields occur with wet rice, which is grown in paddy fields. These fields are typically small dug-out areas that lie about 3 inches below the ground level, bounded by narrow dikes, dams or roadways. The recessed fields permit flooding during the grown season. Another type of paddy is created by dammed-up terraces, which can also be irrigated. Upland rice grown in non-irrigated areas provides far lower yields. This form is called dry rice.
The Asian rice field typically occupies the space of a garden plot, being an acre or less in size. Elaborate irrigation, circulation and drainage systems sustain the high yields. Flood plains are favored locations because of their proximity to water and the ease of setting up hydraulic systems on relatively flat land. In recent years, the number of drilled wells and electric pumps used to supplement surface water from reservoirs and rivers in rice growing areas has grown dramatically.
Rice agriculture requires a warm growing season (average temperature 70 oF), 4 to 6 months in length. Water requirements are also high.
When temperatures are cooler and growing season shorter, wheat is often substituted for rice as the second crop. In areas unfit for rice cultivation, two crops of wheat may be grown. Other grains, such as barley, millet, and sorghum are also produced as food crops.
Many farmers augment (increase) their cereal grain crops with corns, beans, peas, melons and fruits to supplement their diets. Often a practice called inter-culture permits the simultaneous growing of a second crop between the rows of the main crop or on dikes between paddy fields. Industrial cash crops are also grown including cotton, tea, sugarcane, rapeseed and jute.
This type of farming indicates two main activities of the agriculturists. One is Cultivation and the other is Cattle Breeding. It may be both intensive as in Western Europe or extensive as in East Central USA.
This farming is practised specially in those parts of the world where land is not mostly fertile. The holding or size of the farms is not big enough and due to low fertility of soil many crops cannot be grown in one year. Hence when one crop is harvested, the farms are left uncultivated for recouping fertility. Thus the farmers get a compelled vacation which is called their off-season. It is during this season that they like to pay more attention on rearing animals, poultry or take-up some handicrafts, i.e., cottage industries.
Mixed farming can take many forms and it may be practised on farms, which range in size from a few hectares (2.471 acres) to hundreds. But crop growing and animal rearing are intimately related, whatever the conditions, and all the cropping systems yield both human and animal food. The latter is fed to animals, which in turn yield manure for the land.
This system of farming predominates in regions with a dense and highly urbanized population. Mixed farming encompasses much of the eastern US, western Europe, and large portions of the fertile triangle in the Soviet Union, northwestern USA, central Mexico, southern Brazil, parts of Pampas (Argentina), central Chile, and South Africa are other parts of mixed farming. From western Europe, a belt of mixed farming extends eastward into the Asiatic Russia through the central part of the European Russia. Crops and animals occur in various combinations throughout these regions, but the role of crops is particularly crucial in that they provide multiple roles as feed for animals, as a cash crop and as a food supply for farm families.
Apart from cereals like corn in the USA and wheat in western Europe, oats, rye, hay and root crops are grown. In urban areas fruit gardening and dairy farming are very common.
There is usually a regular system of crop rotation, including bread grains (wheat or rye), fodder grains (oats and barley), roots such as potatoes and turnips, and legumes, and fodder crops like lucerne and alfalfa. Some of the land is commonly under permanent or rotation grass. Beef cattle or sheep are sometimes kept in conjunction with crop farming, though it is more usual for dairy cattle and pigs to be reared.
In some areas – in Poland and in parts of France, for example – farms are often small – 10 hectares or less – and make very little use of expensive equipment and the peasants sell very little of what they produce. In other places, such as parts of England, farms are highly capitalized, i.e., they are large and make the greatest possible use of machines and the majority of the crops and animal products are sent to the market.
2/3rd of the animals kept are meat giving of which cattle and hogs are most important. Oxen and horses are also kept as draft animals.
Mixed Farming in Indo-Pak Sub-Continent
We find mixed farming on the hilly regions in Indo-Pak sub-continent where raising of only one crop is possible during rainy season. In rest of the year’s time, the farmers prefer to raise their goats, sheep, cows, poultry etc. Besides they also remain busy in making baskets, shoes, other leather goods, mats, earthen or wooden wares or toys and such other goods which are easily marketable. This gives them some cash income with which they make purchases of seeds, clothes and other requirements. When surplus grain is grown, it is sold in nearby markets. Similarly, the animals and poultry are also sold in markets.
It is a flexible form of agriculture, well-suited to a wide range of physical conditions, and can be adapted to changing market conditions fairly quickly. Production of milk, bacon or bread crops can be increased or reduced at short notice according to the demand. This suggests that it is well-suited to provide many of the animal and vegetable products required by those who live and work in the towns.
Mixed farming makes maximum use of the soil in mid latitude regions of damp climate; the rotation of crops, the periodic grassing over arable lands, and the use of Farm Yard Manure (FYM), all help to maintain the quality of the soil.
COMMERCIAL GRAIN FARMING
This is a form of farming which concentrates on the production of a single crop, namely wheat, maize or barley. It is found outside the tropics, and even there only where the rainfall is too low (less than about 500 mm) for mixed or dairy farming.
Commercial grain farming is most often associated with the wheat belts of the world. Commercial grain farmers typically specialize in producing a single crop – wheat – but often rotate production with other grains or forage crops. The proportion of farmland devoted to cash cropping attains unusually higher percentages in commercial grain regions.
Commercial grain farming is the characteristic of the temperate grasslands or savanna. The most important areas of commercial grain – chiefly wheat – production are parts of the mid west of the US and the Canadian prairies (broad grassy rolling tract of land), the Pampas of Argentina, the Steppes of southern Russia, the southeast Europe and Siberia, and the grasslands of the southeastern Australia.
They are located in the semi-arid belt where the rainfall is precarious, population is low, and a century back was occupied by the nomadic herders.
Commercial grain farming competes best in the areas with atleast 12 to 20 inches of rainfall, preferably occurring even during the winter, spring and early summer months. Wheat can tolerate hot, dry summers and infact prefers a less humid growing season then does corn.
Temperature and precipitation factors in combination help to explain the distinctive locations of winter and spring wheat growing areas. Both types prefer a cool, moist season initially, followed by a warm, sunny, dry period during maturation.
Extensive flat plans are available so that the farm machinery like tractors and combines can be profitably used. The low population has been a great incentive to the mechanization of agriculture. Farms are very large ranging from 350 to 2,000 acres. As a general rule, they are highly mechanized and use every form of labor saving equipment. They use very little labor.
Crops and Yield
Wheat is the distinctive crop of the region, like that of rice of the monsoon lands of Asia. The yield per acre is not so high as that of the western Europe but yield per head is very high so that large quantities enter the world market. Transportation and storage facilities have been provided for the marketing of wheat and other cereals like rye, oats, barley etc. Economy of the temperate grasslands is primarily based upon grains though a little amount of flax, hay, vegetables and fruits are also grown.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Most of the world’s commercial grain is produced in these regions. Wheat is often the only crop grown although it may alternate with a fodder crop, such as oats or sorghum, which is adapted to the fairly dry conditions.
The increasing world shortage has led to the extension of grain growing lands which are too dry, and better left for grazing. In such a climate the rainfall is highly unreliable. Years in which it is adequate for wheat may be followed by a span of years when it is quite inadequate, and crops wither (decay). A further danger is the blowing of the top soil in such dry climates whenever grass cover is ploughed. In the US, such dry lands were ploughed and sown in the 1920s, with disastrous results. Dust Bowl in the USA in 1930 is a good example of it when top soil of a vast land was blown away.
It is a sister of commercial grain farming and differs from it because that has only grain production.
Plantation is a type of commercial farming practiced in the tropical lands of southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America. Farms are unusually large, in which commonly one cash crop is grown. No form of commercial agriculture is as heavily dependent on market conditions as plantation farming. The plantation is essentially a farm, run on up-to-date lines and making use of the most recent scientific knowledge, which produces a single crop all for sale. Plantation is one of the oldest systems of commercial agriculture. At the same time, it occupies less space today than any other form of commercial cropping.
The world’s plantations are located along tropical coasts, inland near navigable rivers, or along railroads extending into the interiors. These locations help in the relatively efficient and inexpensive transportation of products to be exported from factory to port. Geographical location and environmental factors also help contribute to the fact that plantation often specialize in a single crop. This is known as Monoculture, and it is a critical and distinctive feature of what was the old plantation system.
The earliest plantations were the sugar states of West Indies and Brazil, then the practice was adopted of growing rubber, tea, cacao, palm oil, coffee and abaca (sisal hemp) on plantation basis. All these crops grow best in the equatorial or tropical regions. The products of plantation farms are invariably cash crops which are generally consumed in north western Europe and USA. Hence the farms must be served with best transportation facilities.
Size of Land
Although plantation states around the world incorporate relatively large holdings, they vary considerably in size. In Sri Lanka for example, an state must contain at least 10 acres to qualify legally as a plantation. In Sarawak, Malaysia, the figure is 1,000 acres. Many of the rubber plantations in Malaysia comprise only about 100 acres. At the other extreme, the Fire Stone Company Rubber Plantation at Harbel, Liberia includes almost 136,000 acres.
Traditionally commercial plantations occupy relatively large units of land, usually found in sparsely populated areas of the tropics. They employ large numbers of imported, unskilled and low paid laborers who, through careful supervision, concentrate on producing one or more crops for export. Although the crops are produced mainly by intensive hand labor, they must be harvested in a careful and organized way, and they have to be processed in some manner before leaving the state. Factories are therefore common entities on the plantation landscape.
An army of cheap labor is required. They are generally not available locally and hence have to be imported from outside. In southeast Asia, Indian and Chinese laborers are employed in large number for whom quarters have to built, medical aid has to be provided, and amenities of life have to be arranged. Conveyance charges from home to the plantation and back have to be borne. It has been estimated that cost of labor equals to more than half of the total cost of the production.
Capital and Skill
Plantation farming requires investment of huge capital and great organizational skill. The capital and organizational skill come from Europe and the USA.
Thus, it will evident that in plantation farming, except the cheap lands of humid tropical region, all other things come from outside – labor, organizational staff and capital – and the products are exported to other countries.
Plantations have existed for over 500 years. They were created in response to a demand in Europe for food, spices, fibers and beverages that because of climatic constraints, could be produced only in the tropics or sub-tropics. Over the centuries, the demand for most of these items has increased with the growth of world population and with the insatiable (unfulfilled) needs of modern western society. During that time, North America, specially the US, has equated or even surpassed Europe as a market for tropical agricultural products.
The plantation system is considerably older in tropical America than in Asia, Oceania and Africa. Actually, the first plantations date to the 15th century establishments located on several islands off the Guinea Coast of Africa. From there, the Portuguese introduced the system to northeast Brazil to produce sugarcane. When plantations were introduced into the sub-tropics of North America into the 17th century; indigo, tobacco and cotton were the major cash crops.
Commercial crops from Asia and Africa came to Europe in the 19th century, but they were grown primarily by indigenous peasant farmers. Commercial agricultural development of the Asian tropics did not begin in earnest until the Suez Canal was opened in 1869. This together with steam replacing sails, made Asia closer to Europe in travel time. The increase in Asian produce also coincided with a new mass demand in Europe, owing to the effects of the industrial revolution. This demand was particularly acute for certain products grown in Asia, specially rubber and vegetable oils.
Africa was the last region of the tropics to experience plantation development. The plantation system never caught-on in Africa. Infact, only in the German colonies of Cameroon and Togo, where the economies totally dominated by plantations. The situation in post colonial Africa in the late 20th century is essentially the same. In only a few African countries today will one find a thriving plantation economy.
The history of plantation can thus be divided into three distinct phases:
1. The old plantation system flourished in Americas before the 19th century.
2. The new plantation system developed in Asia in 19th century to meet the demands of a modern industrial society in Europe, one that required raw goods for the factory just as much as food for consumption.
3. The third phase of plantation development is underway presently, and future attempts by third world nations to gain control over the production and marketing of the agricultural goods grown on their land.
Plantation has evolved consistently over the past centuries, but in the last 30 years or so, they have changed in surprising way. The usual classification of plantation farming as strictly as tropical institution can no longer hold in light of developments elsewhere. Those characteristics considered essential to the plantation – crop specialization, advanced cultivation and harvesting techniques, large operating units, centralized management, labor specialization, massive production and heavy capital investment – have become increasingly associated with farm in the middle latitudes. By the same token, the character of the tropical plantation has begun to change. Monoculture has declined in some locales, and crops usually associated with cooler climates have been modified and are being cultivated in the tropics. While the plantation economy was originally geared exclusively to exporting goods to foreign markets, domestic markets in the tropics have recently increased in importance. Third world governments commonly promote them as an important element of their overall rural development strategies. Most plantations were established by Europeans in colonial territories, which they controlled. Now that these territories gained their independence, they no longer look on foreign-owned plantation with favor.
Notwithstanding these important modern developments, the plantation is undeniably the product of the colonial past. In much of the third world, it remains as a symbol of oppression, economic exploitation, and cultural domination by Europeans.
Vegetables growing on commercial basis is known as truck farming or market gardening. On account of its perishable character, it is usually carried-on in the outskirts of big towns and cities or industrial centers which offer a ready market.
The improved means of rapid communication is making possible the growing of vegetables at places quite remote from the urban centers. Thus in USA, the vegetables grown in Florida are marketed in New York and other adjoining industrial centers.
Truck farming is often done in poor lands. The deficiency in soils is made good by the use of heavy fertilizers.
The single largest truck farming region in the world is located on the Atlantic coast of USA. The area is covered with poor sandy soils and is not suited to the production of cereals and cotton. Heavy application of fertilizers has turned it into a huge vegetable garden. Trucks, fast moving trains, and aeroplanes are employed in transporting the perishable vegetables from the farm to the market.
The prices that the vegetables fetch, and the restricted distance at which the markets must be located have made possible the growing of vegetables in areas of adverse climate. In California where killing frost is a constant danger, artificial heaters are used and in northwestern Europe vegetables are produced in greenhouses.
Necessary requirements for Truck Farming
Because of the perishable nature of the products, the truck farming can be practised efficiently and economically only under the following conditions:
4. It must be near the big commercial and industrial centers which will provide big and ready markets for its products.
5. Modern methods of transport are available at a cheap rate for the quick movement of the goods all the year round.
6. Air conditioned compartments in the train for perishable goods are necessary.
7. Cold storage is also necessary for storing perishable products.
Herding is a more advanced economic activity than either Gathering or Hunting since those who live by it make at atleast some investment to enhance natural production. Herding activity encompasses the single largest territory on earth. The semi-arid grasslands of Central Asia, Southwestern Asia, and North Africa are the principal areas of herding. Life in such areas is nomadic or semi-nomadic. Search for feed and water for the live-stock demands constant movement. Herds are kept chiefly on natural vegetation. Several acres are required to feed one animal. Hence an extensive use of land is made. The number of cattle in these areas is not large. Cattle is raised primarily for milk, and beef if of minor importance. Sometimes cattle are kept simply for the sake of prestige. The nomadic herding areas have subsistence economy. Therefore very little of their products enter world market.
In the late 20th century, one vast area of herding can be demarcated. It extends all the way from the Atlantic shores of North Africa eastward across Africa through the Arabian Peninsula, then deep into inner Asia, almost to the Pacific Ocean – a longitudinal extent of over 8,000 miles. Latitudinally, this arid and semi-arid region extends from 5o South latitude on the east coast of Africa to 50o north latitude in Central Asia – a range of over 3,500 miles. These pastorals occupy some 10 million miles2, twice the area of land devoted to cultivation.
A lesser region of herding is found in Northern Eurasia, extending into Alaska. In the southern hemisphere too, there are small areas in southwest Africa and on the island of Madagascar. Herding is absent from Australia, South America, and most of North America.
It is estimated that there are 3.5 million herders in the Sahara, Sahel and Sudan zones of Africa, over half a million in the Middle East and the Indus River Plains of Asia, in the ex-Soviet Union, and in China. This makes for a total of approximately 15 million pastorals (rural).
The animals that have proved most satisfactory are sheep, goat, cattle, camel, reindeer and yaks. Horses are used in some areas, but they usually perform the special function of transporting the herdsman as they tend their animals. Goats, which can endure considerable aridity, constitute the herds in the driest regions, whereas sheep and camel predominate in places with somewhat heavier rainfall. The wetter fringes of the dry lands can support herds of cattle.
Material Culture of Herders
The material culture of herders is characterized specifically by a dependence on domestic animals. The economic needs of herders are met by animals that feed on wild plains rather than on cultivated crops. Animals supply food (milk, cheese and meat), materials for clothing (fibers and skins), shelter (skins), fuel (excrement), and tools (bones). Meat plays a small role in the diet of the true nomadic herder, because animals are rarely killed except on special ceremonial occasions.
Migration and the mobility that are required for successful herding are basic features of the life of these people. Movement in search of pastures can be undertaken either over vast horizontal distances or vertically from one elevation to another. The latter practice is known as Transhumance and can be found in such places as the Andes, Himalayas and East Africa. Transhumance is also practiced by modern animals herders in the Alps, Pyrenees (southwestern Europe/Spain), Caucasus and Rocky Mountains. From Morocco to North China, the search for water and pastures is the critical fact of life.
Physical Environments of Herding Areas
Most of the regions where herding occurs possess an arid or semi-arid climate – usually less than 20 inches of precipitation is recorded. Under these physical circumstances, trees do not grow over broad areas; as grasses and shrubs comprise the natural vegetation. Wherever an adequate supply of moisture is found, however, some form of agriculture is normally is practiced.
The unending movements of herdsmen and their animals is both horizontal and vertical. They must move because supplies at any given time in any given place are limited and because the rains come at different time in different places. Because high lands tend to wetter than lowlands, herdsmen practice transhumance by moving to higher altitudes to find grass for their animals. There are, of course, seasonal variations in forest supplies at different elevations, but the factor that determines when they go up or come down is temperature not precipitation. Pastorals tend to lowlands in the winter and move to upland pastures during summer. As autumn approaches and frost begins to occur, herds are returned to the lower lands.
Livestock ranching typically finds its home most distant from the market, being an extensive form of commercial agriculture. Commercial ranching resembles tropical plantation farming in that it also uses a large area land to produce a single commodity, fat-stock, i.e., sheep and cattle, which are primarily reared for their meat. A very large area of the earth’s surface is made up of dry grasslands, which yields a course grazing, usually for cattle or sheep. The animals are reared in almost wild conditions on the ranches, and are rounded up at intervals.
Livestock Production Regions
On a world scale, just five regions have the majority of livestock ranching. In North America, a broad region, extends from western Canada southward through the western US to central Mexico. In South America, the major livestock ranching area extends from the southern tip of Argentina northward through Brazil encompassing virtually all of the southeastern third of the continent. Venezuela also has a small producing area at the northern end of the continent. The third major producing area lies in Southern Africa and a forth in Australia and New Zealand, where the highest percentage of this activity occurs in relation to total land of any area in the world. East and north of the Caspian Sea in southern Russia lies the fifth and last major zone.
The operating units consist not only of the natural pasture land but also the ranch house and acreage (area) devoted for supplementary feed crops. Livestock ranching involves the largest operating units of any type of bio-culture. In the US, ranches frequently exceed thousand acres and in Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, they often exceed 2,500 acres in size. One ranch in southern Texas encompasses 865,000 acres, over 1,000 miles2. But the world’s largest ranches are found in Australia, where several spread over 5,000 miles2; one Australian ranch covers an astonishing 12,000 miles2.
Carrying Capacity of Units
A close balance between man and nature occurs in livestock ranching areas, as over grazing can destroy the food supply. The concept of carrying capacity is often used to indicate this relationship. Carrying capacity refers to the number of animals a given amount of land can support with its natural vegetation. The variation is great. Over the dry near-desert area of the southwestern US, 100 acres or more may be required to supply forage necessary for just one steer (cattle). In steppes (grasslands) and mountain meadows, the carrying capacity generally varies from 25 to 75 acres per steer. On the eastern margins of the Great Plains, the capacity improves to 3 to 5 acres per steer. These figures can also be phrased in terms of Animal Units, whereby to measure carrying capacity, one steer is equated with one horse or 5 sheep. If an area has a carrying capacity of 10, a rancher can count on successfully raising to steer or ten horses or 50 sheep or any combination thereof, as long as the 10 unit figure is not exceeded.
Population Densities in Ranching Regions
Low population densities characterize livestock ranching regions. Density ranges of between 2 and 25 persons per sq. mile are normal. Settlements are typically small in size and a few in number. In the American west, these settlements are very widely separated. A spacing of 100 miles between communities often occurs, and in some instances this distance can increase to 300 miles, as it does in Nevada.
Most commercial ranching occurs in dry lands. Dry climates prevail in the five largest ranching areas. Precipitation is significant in its effect on both natural vegetation and alternative possibilities for bio-culture. Generally it is held that 10 to 20 inches of annual rainfall marks the limit for un-irrigated farming in the mid latitudes. Beyond that line, the drier regions are too risky for cropping and generally are devoted to livestock ranching. Most of the plants that can survive in dry lands are not valuable enough to cultivate. But animals can live off such scattered vegetation. This is the basic reason that animals husbandry rather than cropping is the prevailing form of bio-culture on dry land that is not irrigated.
Livestock ranching occurs in regions of grassland and desert shrubs. The type of grass cover in ranch areas varies greatly through out the world. In the low latitudes are the tropical grass lands, generally termed Savannas – such as the Llanos of Venezuela, the Campos of Brazil and the Gran Chaco, region in South America, and encompassing part of Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. Generally, these tropical grasses are tall, course and fibrous, so are not very edible, and their carrying capacity is low. Yet some tropical grasses which are softer and more palatable (tasty), can support animals fairly well and would provide rather good range land if their spreading could be encouraged.
There is little direct correlation between ranching regions and landforms; ranching occurs on plains, hills, plateaus and mountains, in lowlands and in highlands.
Variations in temperature are associated with a distinctive practice called transhumance, in which herders move their animals to different altitudes with a change in season. This system prevails in regions where the climate has one severe season say, a very cold winter. The usual practice is to graze the herd on lowland forage in the winter when the mountain pastures are inaccessible and then in summer to move the herd to the slopes to permit replenishment (supplying) of lowland grasses. This technique occurs in the sheep-grazing areas of southern Wyoming and western Colorado and in mountainous areas of Europe.
Livestock ranching is a new comer on the world map. Whereas herding has been practiced for millennia, commercial ranching is little more than 200 years old. Not until the period 1750 to 1800 did world markets generate enough demand for wool, hides, and meat, to support a commercial animal economy based on natural vegetation in the dry lands. The advent of refrigeration in the 1880s gave the industry another boost, specially by opening up the Argentinean products to world market.
Relations with Farmers
In two quite different ways, livestock ranchers find themselves involved with farmers. In some areas they shift their cattle to farmers in humid regions for fattening before final sale. This relationship holds particularly in North America, where the ranchers of various western states collaborate with corn belt farmers. On the other hand, as population has increased, the demand for food has risen, and new farms have been staked out, often on humid margins of range country. In this instance, the tillers (cultivators) of the soil have steadily invaded grazing lands, tempered primarily by the availability of irrigation water.
With the development and growth of big town and cities, this system came into practice. The large demand of dairy products from the urban areas lead to increase the area of supply and to intensify the method of production. Cattle is an important source of dairy products, like fluid milk, butter, evaporated and condensed milk, cheese, ghee, curd etc. Dairy cattle are often very important in mixed farming regions. A herd of dairy cattle focus the farmer’s attention to the exclusion of other activities; crops are grown, but only to supply feed for the stock, pasture is maintained, but only for the cattle to graze, and meadow is kept for the production of hay. The farm may sell liquid milk, as it does in southwestern England, or it may also make butter and cheese using the by-products of the creamery to feed pigs, as in the Netherlands and Denmark.
In subsistence farming areas, small quantities of dairy products are consumed and only around large cities, dairy industry of some magnitude has developed. But in east central America, North America, Western Europe, Eastern Australia, and New Zealand, dairy industry on a large scale has developed. Minor dairy regions include western US, eastern Argentina, middle Chile, the Union of South Africa and eastern Japan.
The dairy products are first raw milk and then a number of by-products of milk, chiefly cheese, butter, condensed milk and dried milk. There has been a great advance in the cleanness of market milk, consequently the supply of fresh milk in air tight bottles, tetra packs etc. to the thickly populated trade and industrial centers has increased considerably.
Cheese, a condensed form of milk is a good substitute for meat; and butter is a fat, supplying all the vitamins which are generally absent in our daily ordinary food. All three of these major dairy products, particularly milk and butter, are valuable in the preparation of many other articles of food.
The trade in butter and cheese, specially in the former, has increased immensely since the introduction of refrigeration into transportation and storage. Supplies come from far off countries now reach their destination without loosing their commercial qualities. Besides refrigerated dairy produce, a certain amount enters in commerce as tinned butter or condensed milk also. The supplies of these come mostly from Europe and Australia.
The development of dairy industry is closely connected with the growth of large urban centers. Development of rapid means of transportation and the invention of refrigerator have made possible to extend the areas of dairy farming. It is now possible to transport fluid milk and cream to the market from distances of 100 miles or more. This led to the development of milk-sheds around larger cities. Butter and cheese can move from one continent to another by means of advanced technique of storing.
Dairy farming in different Regions
USA and Canada
USA and Canada, the leading dairy countries of the world, have dairy industry almost around every large city. But the main dairy region has developed in southeastern Canada and northeastern USA from the Atlantic Seaboard to the state of Minnesota. The region enjoys humid continental climate with a growing season too short for many of the grains to mature. The severe long winter should have induced a period of inactivity for the farmers except for the development of dairy industry which can be practised indoor. The topography is hummocky and the soils are poor, best suited for grasses. The region is close to large urban centers which provide market for dairy products. Many migrants in that part of America had practiced dairy farming for generations in Europe. All these factors have combined together to make this region an important dairy farming region in the world. The USA is the leading producer of cheese and the second largest producer of milk and butter in the world.
Northwestern Europe has given lead to the world in the development of dairy industry on scientific lines. Many of the dairy cows have the homes in this part of the world. Even today, some of the most advanced districts in dairy industry are located in Europe. European countries together produce more cheese and butter than the remainder of the world. But the large population of Europe consumes more dairy products than they produce. Therefore Europe is a net importer of dairy products.
Denmark’s leading industry is dairy farming. As one moves out from here, the importance of dairy farming decrease. Netherlands, Belgium, the British Isles, West Germany, northern France and Switzerland are other important dairy areas.
Former USSR has developed a large dairy industry. It leads the world in production of milk and butter.
The dairy farming in New Zealand dates back to 1840 but the expansion of the industry awaited the invention of refrigerator in 1882. New Zealand is one of the leading suppliers of butter and cheese. Its chief market is the British Isles. New Zealand enjoys ideal climate for cattle raising. Mild winter makes year round pasturing possible, moist climate permits growth of grass and hay crops and cool temperatures are excellent for handling perishable products. Most of the dairy farms are located in the rolling plain of North Island. Like Denmark, the dairy industry is run on cooperative basis in New Zealand. Like USA, the dairy industry is highly mechanized here. Special attention is paid to grading.
Dairy farming though very important in Australia is not that important as in New Zealand. The production of dairy products greatly fluctuates. Australia exports large quantity of butter and cheese. UK is the chief market. Dairy industry is located in the southeastern Australia.
Elaborate buildings and expensive machinery require large capital investment and give dairy farms very high market values. A typical dairy farm today has several feed sites and machinery storage sheds. In addition to the dairy barn itself. Machinery needs for the dairy farm go far beyond those required for feeding, milking and cleaning responsibilities. The cost of bulk milk cooling and storage tanks alone can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, dairy farms typically farms typically have several large tractors, plows, harvesters, wagons and trucks. Dairy animals themselves represent a large investment. Mature cows sold for milk production have a value of about $500 to $1,500.
This type of farming, quite opposite to subsistence farming, indicates tillage of very big fields. Here large scale production is the main object because all requirements for raising huge crops are available. This farming is really practised on commercial basis, i.e., the growers raise different crops not for their own use or for home consumption but mainly for trade purposes – for exporting to other countries. In all the economically scientifically advanced countries like USA, Canada, Australia, former USSR and some west European countries, farming is commercialized. In such countries, agriculture has become one of the important industries. Countries like China, Brazil or Argentina are also developing their agriculture on the pattern of commercial farming.
On account of large scale production, the consequent economies are enjoyed. Cost of production has gone down. Production per acre has gone up tremendously. Rotation of crops under favorable weather and soil condition is also possible. Wide use of machinery has relieved man of his fatigue. More laborers are not required as machine does their work at the command of one man only. Geographical cooperation and coordination can remove scarcity and famine conditions as surplus area can now afford to send grains to those regions where either the crops fail or low yield results due to calamities of nature.
Besides, where animal breeding is also taken in hand, quality dairy products are possible. Proper and speedy marketing facilities ensure prompt disposal of crops, other products and collection of required materials on the farms. Where facilities for refrigeration are necessary, they are made available as these farms are all electrified.
Rationalization is another characteristic feature, i.e., all the necessary factors of production are employed in the best proportion in order to gain the best results, both from qualitative and quantitative aspects. Both intensive and extensive farming is practiced. In those countries where population pressure is not high on the land, extensive farming is possible, e.g., in Canada. Conversely, if the same field, due to its physical potentiality promises greater yield then intensive farming is resorted to, e.g., in the advanced countries of Europe.
Implements and Products
This farming has been symbolized with mechanization. Instead of old and crude methods or implements, latest machinery is used at all stages – since sowing of the seed upto harvesting. Big tractors and bull dozers have replaced the animal-drawn plows. The farmers are rich enough to use best quality seed and fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers and insecticides to kill injurious insects, pests etc. are invariably used. Machines do all watering of the farms with fine uniformity.
The important crops raised under this farming are wheat, maize, rice, coffee, tea, jute, sugarcane, etc.
Rich farmers, who are really businessmen, can and do arrange research work. Each big farm is equipped with a laboratory. Experiments on soil fertility, hybrid seeds, relation of crops, manure and their different uses on various soils, discovery of new crops etc. are made by qualified botanists, geologists and experts of agriculture.
Commercial farming has revolutionized agriculture. Self-sufficiency is giving way to interdependence. Today Dundee (Scotland) looks to Bangladesh for raw jute, and Pakistan or India import wheat or rice from America, Australia or Canada in times of emergency. This is all due to large scale commercial farming.
It means to practice agriculture without irrigation in regions which have deficient rainfall. The main difference between dry farming and humid farming lies in the supply of water. In dry farming the supply of water is very small. The cost of agricultural crops under dry farming is usually high. Consequently, the problem of crop selection is very important. Only those crops are cultivated which can withstand drought season. The dry farming soils are generally found in parts where the average rainfall is from 10 to 20 inches (500 mm).
The typical dry farming soils are mostly sandy or silt loam and are located in regions where the average annual rainfall is from 10 to 20 inches. Dry farming soils are marked by great fertility, as there is no leaching of the soils in these areas.
Water is the most vital condition of agriculture and, therefore, in dry farming its conservation and utilization is very important. To preserve water, deep ploughing is done soon after the harvest so that the soil may suck the greatest amount of water, whenever there is rainfall in future. In cold countries deep ploughing also checks the drifting of snow that may fall in winter. With a view to conserve the moisture, a layer of dust is spread over the surface of the soil. This layer of dust prevents water from being evaporated by the sun. If, after the harvest, land is left uncultivated, it is necessary to see that no weeds grow, otherwise they will absorb all the moisture of the soil.
Wheat is the most important food grain which is produced under dry farming. It is fairly drought-resistant and economic in its use of water. As the wheat has both spring and winter varieties, it is well-adopted to a wide range of climatic conditions that may occur in the dry farming lands. Oats, barley, rye and beans are other important crops grown chiefly as fodder crops. In the USA, cotton has become firmly established in dry farming. Grapes also adopt well to dry farming techniques.
The most important dry farming areas of the world are found in USA. Other countries where dry farming is practised are Canada and areas of western Asia and Africa.
This system is largely adopted in the warmer parts of the world. Under this method, the cutting of hill slopes into terraced field rising step-like above one another takes place. The terraced fields are irrigated with great facility. Terraced walls are usually from 5 to 8 ft. high but walls towards the top of the mountain are 15 to 18 ft. high. The formation of terraces needs much labor so this system is costly.
This system is mostly practised in mountainous areas of the world. In northern Pakistan, northern India, Nepal, Indonesia, China and in some other southeast Asian countries.
Corn and maize in Pakistan, paddy in China and Indonesia, tea and coffee in India etc.
During the 1960s, experimental work showed that contour planting and terracing would help preserve the slowly eroding steep slopes.