Factors affecting agricultural land use and farm practices

The following are factors affecting agricultural land use and farm practices

Climate

the elements of temperature and precipitation and their combined impact on the length of the growing season. Plant growth starts at a temperature of 6 °C. As temperatures
increase so does the rate of plant growth. Areas that have temperatures above 6 °c for most of the year have a long growing season. A crop such as wheat needs a growing season of 90 days. Precipitation in the form of rain needs to be high enough to provide plants with enough water to
grow. The amount needed will vary according to the temperatures, as more will be lost by evaporation if the temperatures are high.

Relief /Topography

terms used to describe the altitude and shape of the land. Altitude will affect both the temperature and the amount
and type of precipitation. Generally, the temperature drops at a rate of about 6.5 °c for every 1000 metres in height, so that the growing season will shorten with increased altitude. Precipitation also increases with height, as does the amount of snow – again this contributes to the growing
season becoming shorter with altitude. The shape of the land includes whether slopes are steep or gentle:

A steep slope will be difficult to farm but more importantly, will often have thin soils due to increased runoff and erosion. A gentler slope will have deeper soils and less
erosion.

The aspect of the land

the direction that a slope faces is irnportant. A south-facing
slope, in the Northern Hemisphere, will have warmer soils which will mean that seeds will germinate and grow faster. The growing season can be six weeks longer on a south
facing slope compared to a colder north facing slope at the same location.

Soils

some soils are deeper and more fertile than others which will affect plant growth. A thin and infertile soil will not be very productive.

Drainage

lanci needs to be well drained and free frorn waterlogging to allow most plants to grow. Flat lanci is easy to plough, but may be prone to flooding and waterlogging. Gentle slopes allow water to drain away.

investment of money/capital

the cost of land, buildings and machinery can be high on many farms. There is also the cost of seed, animals and fuel.

labour

some farms are labour intensive – they may need large numbers of people to carry out the jobs on the farm which may be impossible for machinery to do.

New machinery and technology

both can help the farmer improve income and profits.

Markets

the farmer must ensure that there is always a market for the crop or product and also look for potential new rnarkets or new crops and animals.

Transport

this can be an expensive part of farming as products need to be brought to the markets.

Artificial inputs

these can increase yields considerably and more than pay for their costs in increased profits. lrrigation is an example
and the use of artificial chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides are other examples.

subsidies and tarrifs

Subsidies and tariffs for crops and animals are now essential for some types of farming to survive in many areas of the developed world as in the EU, USA and Japan.

Quotas

governments can put limits on U1e amount of crop or product, like milk, that can be produced.

Biologica! technology

the use of Genetically Modified (GM) crops and Genetic Engineering of animals’ increases yields, but GM crops are very controversia!.

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