Types of Agriculture
Agriculture is one of the most widespread activities in the world, but it is not uniform throughout. There are a number of ways to classify agriculture, and some of the major criteria which can be adopted include:
Type of crop
Means of distribution of farm produce
Level of mechanization
The following are the major types of agriculture around the world.
Nomadic herding is based upon the rearing of animals on natural pastures. This practice is performed by the people of semi-arid and arid regions. These people stay on the move with their animals in search of natural pastures for their livestock to graze. The type of animals reared differ from one region to the other. Northern Africa, parts of Arabia and parts of northern Eurasia are the typical regions of this type of farming. This is a subsistence type of activity.
Under this system of farming, the major emphasis is laid on rearing animals. Unlike nomadic herding, the farmers live a settled life. This type of farming has developed on a commercial basis in areas of the world where large plots of land are available for animal grazing, such as the low rainfall areas of North America, South America and Australia. Animals are reared mainly for meat and wool, and they are kept on large-scale farms called ranches.
This type of farming is most often adopted in the tropics. Under this system, the land is obtained by clearing forest areas using a slash and burn technique. The land is then cultivated for a few years, or until the fertility declines or the land is overtaken by the weeds and other native flora. At this point, farmers move on to clear another area of the forest. This is a subsistence type of farming that is almost always done manually. This type of agriculture is usually adopted by people living in tropical regions like southeast Asia, with a major emphasis is on grain crops. This type of farming is declining due to pressure by environmentalists.
Rudimentary Sedentary Tillage
This is a subsistence type of agriculture and it differs from the aforementioned types because the same plot of land is cultivated continuously year after year. Fallowing of land is commonly adopted to maintain soil fertility, and is a technique often adopted in tropical regions. Besides grain crops, some tree crops such as the Pará rubber tree are grown using this system.
Intensive Subsistence Farming With Rice Dominant
Intensive subsistence farming is practiced in tropical regions that have high populations and receive a large amount of precipitation. Rice is the dominant crop when it comes to this type of farming, as it can employ and feed a large number of people per unit of area. The southeast Asian region is where most of this type of farming is done. This type of farming requires the use of both manual and animal power, and farmers try to enhance the productivity per unit of area with the use of manures.
Intensive Subsistence Farming Without Rice Dominant
This is a variant of the aforementioned type of farming designed for areas where the amount of rainfall is not very high. These regions grow grain crops other than rice, such as wheat and millets. Besides the comparatively less wet areas of Asia, northern Africa and the parts of Middle East utilize this type of farming. It is also commonly practiced in parts of southern Africa and Central America.
Although practiced over a rather small area, this type of farming is quite important in terms of its commercial value. The major products of this type of farming are tropical crops such as tea, coffee, rubber and palm oil. This type of farming has developed in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America where the colonial influence of Europeans has remained. Most of the plantations were developed to provide tropical crops to the European markets. This is a highly capital-intensive type of farming and most of the crops are tree crops.
The typically rugged terrain of the Mediterranean region has resulted in typical livestock and crop combinations. Wheat, vineyards and citrus fruits are the major crops, and small animals are the major livestock reared in the region. Horticulture is a major activity of this region, and most of the crops are grown during the winter with the help of winter rains.
Commercial Grain Farming
This type of farming is a response to farm mechanization and is the major type of farming in the areas with low rainfall and population. These crops are prone to the vagaries of weather and droughts, and monoculture of wheat is the general practice. Prairies, steppes, and temperate grasslands of South America and Australia are the main areas for this type of farming.
Livestock and Grain Farming
This type of agriculture is commonly known as mixed farming, and originated in the humid areas of the middle latitudes, except Asia. Its development is closely related to the market facilities, and it is a typically European type of farming. Great Britain and New Zealand are examples of areas where this type of farming is common practice.
Subsistence Crop and Stock Farming
In this type of agriculture practically nothing is sold off the farm. This type of farming has been common in areas of middle latitudes with lower fertility of soils, or in areas with rough terrain. It has declined significantly after the collectivization of farming in Russia, which was one of the major regions where this was practiced.
This type of farming also had its origin in Europe, from where it spread to other areas. Close proximity to the market and a temperate climate are the two favorable factors which have been responsible for the development of this type of farming. Countries like Denmark and Sweden have witnessed the maximum development of this type of farming.
This type of farming has developed to take advantage of a large demand for horticulture products, especially in areas of large-scale urbanisation and high-density population. It has been most successful when used for vineyard cultivation in areas of France, northern Hungary and the Swiss Lakes regions.
Although Whittlesey’s agricultural classification is quite elaborate, the regionalisation on the basis of this classification is not something permanent. Due to changing market demands and developing agricultural technology, a number of changes have come into the agricultural pattern of the world since Whittlesey’s study. Large demands for fruits and vegetables in the urban areas have resulted in modified land use in many parts of the world, and such factors impart a dynamic character to the agricultural activity.