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Geography Agricultural Geography
by
Chris Laingen, Lisa M. Butler Harrington

Introduction

Agricultural geography as a strong focal area has declined since the mid-1990s. From the 1980s, it became more a subset of rural geography rather than an emphasis on spatial patterns and differentiation (focused particularly on “First World/Third World” differences in the 1960s to 1970s). Rural geography includes a breadth of topics relevant to rural areas and small towns, from social issues to natural resources management and land use. Traditional agricultural geography focused on spatial patterns and varying agricultural systems, particularly from a basis in economic geography and/or land use. As time has gone on, some connections have become mostly via human–environment perspectives on natural resources, sustainability, health, and food systems. In addition to shifting broad social concerns affecting work related to agricultural geography, modern industrial agriculture has spread to other world regions, with perhaps greater variability within particular regions (e.g., sub-Saharan Africa) than between regions. Broader considerations of social and economic conditions related to farming also have become more apparent since the 1970s. Agricultural geography today focuses specifically on farms (including ranches) and farming; production of food, fiber, and fuel; economic, policy, and resource issues related to agriculture; and farm household and livelihood concerns. There are connections between agricultural geography and related disciplines, particularly rural sociology and agricultural economics. It must be noted that, with the exception of the descriptive work by geographers in the Global North addressing conditions in the South, most of the work in agricultural geography has been produced in North America and Europe, with much less analytical work on agricultural conditions in other world regions. The works mentioned here are drawn from the English-language literature and are admittedly biased toward researchers based in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

General Overviews

Much of rural geography no longer places a strong focus on agricultural geography as a broad area of study, and many of the general background works are older. Because of this, they often are somewhat dated in terms of their descriptions of geographic patterns and the status of agricultural practices in different world regions. Those listed below are some of the sources most likely to provide good general portrayals of the topic. Ilbery 1985 presents a breadth of agricultural geography topics, all of which continue to be relevant to the subdiscipline. Similarly, Grigg 1995 offers a thorough introduction to the traditional concerns of agricultural geography, including global considerations and addressing international variations in the practices of agriculture. Grigg 1992 traces social and technological shifts and the development of modern (i.e., industrialized) agriculture in more industrialized and wealthier countries in the 19th and 20th centuries. Bowler and Ilbery 1987 and Morris and Evans 2004 take on the changes in agricultural geography and the evolution to the broader rural geography (see Introduction) at different points in time. Agricultural geographers display varying attitudes toward industrialized (“conventional”) agriculture, with its tendency to require “getting big or getting out” along with adoption of high levels of mechanization and agrochemical use. Hart 2003 is “traditional” in this regard, displaying appreciation for agricultural entrepreneurs who have expanded their farming operations as he covers the trend toward fewer and larger farming operations, with various specializations, in the United States. Others (see Duram 2005, cited under Organic Farming and Sustainable Agriculture), support alternative agriculture, with appreciation of small family farms and organic farming practices.

  • Bowler, Ian R., and Brian W. Ilbery. “Redefining Agricultural Geography.” Area 19.4 (1987): 327–332.

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    Takes up the identity of agricultural geography, with a proposal that it be broadened to include a political economy perspective, consideration of the “food chain” (which has occurred, with a rise in study of agro-food systems and “food geographies”), and more empirical work connecting agriculture with nonfarm aspects of rural places and economies, foreshadowing a growth in consideration of multifunctional agriculture and “pluriactivities.”

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  • Grigg, David B. The Transformation of Agriculture in the West. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992.

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    Consideration of multiple aspects of agriculture, including land, labor, changes in productivity, and economic conditions, with a focus on historical shifts in agricultural production and agricultural systems in Europe and North America, from approximately 1800 to the later 1900s.

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  • Grigg, David B. An Introduction to Agricultural Geography. 2d ed. London: Routledge, 1995.

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    A thorough, if somewhat dated, consideration of environmental, economic, biological, and technological aspects of agriculture.

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  • Hart, John Fraser. “Half a Century of Cropland Change.” Geographical Review 91.3 (2001): 525–543.

    DOI: 10.2307/3594739Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A national assessment of cropland change in the United States from 1950 to 1997. While the country lost cropland, that was confined mostly to areas with poorer soils, or loss was occurring at the expense of development near the rural/urban fringe. Attention toward the end of the paper is given to the issue of urban sprawl and to what extent it may reduce the country’s capacity to produce enough food.

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  • Hart, John Fraser. The Changing Scale of American Agriculture. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2003.

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    An important contribution whose goal focuses on the dramatic transformation of US agriculture from small, self-sufficient farms to highly efficient, large-scale producers of food, fuel, and fiber. It accomplishes this by blending in-depth interviews with farmers and ranchers with statistical analysis of US Department of Agriculture data.

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  • Hudson, John C. Making the Corn Belt: A Geographical History of Middle-Western Agriculture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

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    A temporal and spatial reconstruction of one of the most recognized agricultural regions in the world. Follows early US settlers and land speculators in their search for land capable of becoming what we know today as the Corn Belt, from southern Ohio to its most current expansion northward and westward into the Great Plains.

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  • Ilbery, Brian. Agricultural Geography: A Social and Economic Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

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    Introductory materials and theoretical perspectives open the book, which includes sections covering decision making in agriculture, diffusion of innovations, economics (and relations to farm size, farm systems and relationships, and regional specialization), government policy, agriculture and urban fringe areas, and agricultural organization (cooperatives, contract farming, and agribusiness).

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  • Morris, Carol, and Nick Evans. “Agricultural Turns, Geographical Turns: Retrospect and Prospect.” Journal of Rural Studies 20 (2004): 95–111.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0743-0167(03)00041-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Seeks out answers for why agricultural geography “turned” to a more culturally focused, postmodern, social theory–oriented subfield of rural geography in the late 1980s and early 1990s (in the United Kingdom). It then offers suggestions as to how traditional agricultural geographers and those focused more on “agri-culture” can form stronger bonds by creating new research models that blend cultural, political, and environmental themes.

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Reference and Atlas Resources

Although much of the mapping and atlas resources found within agricultural geography are compiled and distributed by the various government agencies responsible (see Agricultural Data Sources), there is a handful of other noteworthy atlases. The atlas Pillsbury and Florin 1996 could be considered a fundamental resource for consideration of the spatial characteristics of US agriculture. Also crucial for anyone who is beginning to investigate an agricultural topic are the myriad (nonannotated) reference volumes; most noteworthy, and most encompassing both spatially and temporally, are those by Thomas Rumney (Rumney 1990a, Rumney 1990b, Rumney 1990c, Rumney 2005).

  • Lavin, Stephen J., Fred M. Shelley, and J. Clark Archer. Atlas of the Great Plains. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011.

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    A comprehensive atlas of the US and Canadian Great Plains region; one chapter is devoted to rural settlement and agriculture. For each important crop, livestock, or land use a series of maps (spanning the late 19th century and entire 20th) and corresponding commentary describe over a century of agricultural change in the Great Plains.

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  • Pillsbury, Richard, and John William Florin. Atlas of American Agriculture: The American Cornucopia. New York: Macmillan, 1996.

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    The first hundred pages are devoted to detailed descriptions of the eleven major US agricultural regions. The final 142 pages are devoted to in-depth accounts of more than fifty of the country’s most important agricultural commodities, which utilize Census of Agriculture data to document both spatial and temporal changes, in many cases from the late 1800s to the early 1990s.

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  • Rumney, Thomas A. The Geography of World Agriculture: A Selected Bibliography. Vol. 1, General Works and Theoretical Topics. 2d ed. Monticello, IL: Vance Bibliographies, 1990a.

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    Comprehensive bibliography (not annotated) of about three hundred books, atlases, monographs, and journal articles on agricultural geography. Works largely date from the end of World War II through the 1980s.

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  • Rumney, Thomas A. The Geography of World Agriculture: A Selected Bibliography. Vol. 2, The Western Hemisphere. 2d ed. Monticello, IL: Vance Bibliographies, 1990b.

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    In Rumney’s second bibliography (which includes approximately seven hundred citations), he focuses on world agriculture in the Western Hemisphere. Countries and regions included are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Middle America, South America, and the islands of the Caribbean.

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  • Rumney, Thomas A. The Geography of World Agriculture: A Selected Bibliography. Vol. 3, The Eastern Hemisphere. 2d ed. Monticello, IL: Vance Bibliographies, 1990c.

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    Rumney’s third volume, similar to his first two (approximately one thousand citations), focuses on articles, books, atlases, and other works for the countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, as well as the Soviet Union, Australia, New Zealand, and the islands of the western Pacific.

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  • Rumney, Thomas A. The Study of Agricultural Geography: A Scholarly Guide and Bibliography. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2005.

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    More than 12,000 references are listed in this 700+-page reference book on topics related to agricultural geography. Items are presented in chronological order to give its users an idea of the development and directions that geographical research on agriculture has taken from its inception to the present.

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  • Sisson, Richard, Christian Zacher, and Andrew Clayton, eds. The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

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    A massive (in both substance and weight) 1,800+-page collection of brief articles. For this work, the Midwest comprises the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Although much of this book is devoted to agriculture either directly or indirectly, it also contains entries on society, culture, economies, and landscapes of the Midwest.

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  • US Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Generalized Types of Farming in the United States; Including a List of Counties in Type-of-Farming Regions and Subregions. Agricultural Information Bulletin No. 3. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1950.

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    In 1950 the USDA created twelve basic agricultural regions. Based largely on the earlier works of O. E. Baker in the 1920s, these regions were created by state-level agriculturalists who placed counties into the twelve categories. Detailed descriptions of each of the twelve regions (and their subregions) are provided, along with a list of each county’s regional designation.

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Agricultural Data Sources

In the United States as well as abroad, there exist copious amounts of statistical data and other reference materials that are available readily online, which have been collected by myriad government organizations. The best-known of these agencies in the United States is the US Department of Agriculture, specifically the US Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture and US Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistical Service. While these sources tend to be strictly statistical in nature, the Cropland Data Layer offers users not only statistical data but also viewable and downloadable spatial (raster) data. The best-known international entity is the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. For nearly every country in the world, data (available for viewing or download) can be accessed through these websites and analyzed easily in statistical or geographic information systems software.

Journals

Many of the journals most related to agricultural geography reflect changes in societal concerns with the practices of agriculture, including ethical and values-based concerns, sustainability, environmental effects, and food quality (often found in the Journal of Rural Studies). Because these concerns have arisen mostly since the late 1980s, there has been a proliferation of journals such as the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics and the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture with alternative views of agriculture (i.e., moral and societal issues) and agricultural production (i.e., sustainable, eco-friendly agriculture), as compared to more conventional approaches to agriculture or the descriptions and analysis of agricultural regions that were more often found in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

Historical Conditions and Changes to Agricultural Systems

Throughout history, farmers, farmland, and farming practices have all changed. Various societal, environmental, technological, and economic driving forces have either pushed or pulled farmers to change how and where they practice their specific forms of agriculture. The works cited here are samples of entries that deal with these changes (from the United States to Europe) throughout the 20th century. L. Dudley Stamp (Stamp 1948) considered (mostly agricultural) land use in Great Britain in the early to mid-20th century; he was instrumental in developing land-use maps for Britain between the world wars. Pierce 1994 analyzes structural changes from the perspective of Canadian agriculture, relating changes to several theories and models applied to agricultural development. Winsberg 1982 explores shifts in agriculture toward greater specialization in the United States after World War II, while Anderson 2009, Bray and Watkins 1964, and Roepke 1959 focus on changes in various aspects of maize (US, corn) production and changes in the US Corn Belt. (The US region known as the Corn Belt—broadly located in the central part of the country and extending northward and eastward—specializes in the production of corn and soybeans.) Related to other publications about the Corn Belt and its evolution, Hart 1968 relates a reduction in farming in the eastern United States to the strengthening of the central part of the country as the Corn Belt. Hewes 1977 considers the development and continuance of mostly absentee farming.

  • Anderson, Joseph L. Industrializing the Corn Belt: Agriculture, Technology, and the Environment, 1945–1972. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2009.

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    Describes the evolution from general farming to specialization that has transformed agricultural production and practices in the US Corn Belt. Information from individual farm records, USDA statistics, interviews with farmers, and agricultural trade literature is used to illustrate the shift of a major farming region from one comprised mainly of small family farms to one that is highly specialized and mechanized.

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  • Bray, James O., and Patricia Watkins. “Technical Change in Corn Production in the United States, 1870–1960.” Journal of Farm Economics 46.4 (1964): 751–765.

    DOI: 10.2307/1236510Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An early discussion of the cumulative effects of hybridization and price support programs for corn on the overall economic structure of agriculture and the increase in productivity.

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  • Hart, John Fraser. “Loss and Abandonment of Cleared Farm Land in the Eastern United States.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 58.3 (1968): 417–440.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1968.tb01645.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A key paper on the decline of agricultural land in the eastern United States as agricultural production shifted west into the Corn Belt and Great Plains.

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  • Hewes, Leslie. “Early Suitcase Farming in the Central Great Plains.” Agricultural History 51.1 (1977): 23–37.

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    Description of farming at a distance, with farmers living apart from the farm. Particularly focused on wheat farming in western Kansas and eastern Colorado before World War II.

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  • Pierce, John T. “Towards the Reconstruction of Agriculture: Paths of Change and Adjustment.” Professional Geographer 46.2 (1994): 178–190.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0033-0124.1994.00178.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    With a focus on Canadian agriculture, analyzes restructuring of agriculture (see Agro-Food Systems and Agricultural Structure) by comparing observations with six different models of agricultural change, and six “pathways” suggested by other researchers. Graphically portrays types of agriculture and paths of adjustment.

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  • Roepke, Howard G. “Changes in Corn Production on the Northern Margin of the Corn Belt.” Agricultural History 33.3 (1959): 126–132.

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    A short article that begins to describe a pattern of shifting agricultural practices that continues today: the northerly movement of the boundary of corn production, due in large part to the creation of faster-maturing hybrids, as well as shifting patterns of agricultural production driven by the economic restructuring of adjacent agricultural regions such as the dairy regions of southern Wisconsin and central Minnesota.

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  • Stamp, L. Dudley. The Land of Britain: Its Use and Misuse. London: Longmans, Green, 1948.

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    Based on the important “Land Utilization Survey” that Dudley Stamp oversaw in the 1930s. Includes significant portions on agricultural land uses and status.

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  • Winsberg, Morton D. “Agricultural Specialization in the United States since World War II.” Agricultural History 56.4 (1982): 692–701.

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    Includes discussion of increased productivity driven by inputs, the reduction in farm labor and the amount of land used, and the shift from general farming to production-driven cash/profit farming across the United States.

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Evolution of Agriculture

Although most agricultural geography research is on contemporary conditions, geographers, archaeologists, anthropologists, and others have given some attention to prehistory and the creation and evolution of agriculture globally and regionally. Sauer 1952 explores the possible conditions underlying development of agriculture for food production, and diffusion of agriculture, in world (pre)history. Harlan 1971 argues for the independent invention of agriculture in several world regions, whence crop growing and specific crops would have spread outward. Dhillon 1992 updates and expands on agricultural development and diffusion, with a focus on push-and-pull factors that may have helped to shape agriculture. Fuller 2006 reviews evidence from the literature over time to focus specifically on agricultural development in the region that most often is assumed to have been the focus of agricultural development, Southwest and South Asia.

  • Dhillon, S. S. “Origin and Development of Agriculture.” In New Dimensions in Agricultural Geography. Vol. 1, Historical Dimensions of Agriculture. Edited by Noor Mohammad, 97–132. New Delhi: Concept Publishing, 1992.

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    A chronological assessment of the history of agricultural development. Beginning with an overview of the likely location(s) of the first agricultural activities followed by a detailed timeline of the most important agricultural epochs, the chapter posits likely push-and-pull factors that caused changes in agricultural practices.

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  • Fuller, Dorian Q. “Agricultural Origins and Frontiers in South Asia: A Working Synthesis.” Journal of World Prehistory 20 (2006): 1–86.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10963-006-9006-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reviews research and evidence on agricultural development and diffusion, particularly evidence for the origination of agriculture in Southwest Asia and dispersal to South Asia. Reviews different forms of agriculture in subregions of southern Asia and compares them with agriculture of other areas.

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  • Harlan, Jack R. “Agricultural Origins: Centers and Noncenters.” Science 174 (1971): 468–474.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4008.468Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents possible multiple centers of development of agriculture, particularly development of certain crops, whence diffusion may have occurred. Presents a case for independent invention of agricultural practices in multiple regions of the Earth.

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  • Sauer, Carl O. Agricultural Origins and Dispersals: The Domestication of Animals and Foodstuffs. New York: American Geographical Society, 1952.

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    A classic work on the development of agriculture and potential pathways of diffusion.

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Preindustrial Agriculture

“Preindustrial” agriculture is not an entirely clear designation, as industrialization is a process over time, and farming practices may be industrializing but not considered wholly industrial. Industrialization has taken place around the world at different times, and people in some places still practice what might be considered preindustrial agriculture. This would be typified by work that is done mainly by hand labor or with the use of draft animals and perhaps irrigation using ancient methods of water distribution. In the literature, terms such as peasant farming, subsistence agriculture, noncommercial farming, nonmechanized agriculture, and (in some cases) small-holder farming may designate preindustrial or nonindustrial/semi-industrial agriculture. Preindustrial agriculture includes past forms of farming, from prehistoric time periods to historical times, as covered in Doolittle 1992 for North America at the time of Columbus, Johnston 2003 for the Maya, and Hornsby 1989 for Canada’s Cape Breton Island in the 1800s. A number of authors, including Schroeder 1985 and Henshall and King 1966, describe contemporary (at the time of writing) conditions in regions that could be considered to practice mainly preindustrial agriculture; Floyd 1969 addresses the diversity of practices in Africa. Bebbington 1993 investigates changes to agriculture—and changes to the conceptualization of “indigenous agriculture” —in the Ecuadorian Andes. Spencer and Stewart 1973 describes a number of agricultural systems, including several that can be considered preindustrial in character. (See also General Overviews and Reference and Atlas Resources.)

  • Bebbington, Anthony. “Modernization from Below: An Alternative Indigenous Development?” Economic Geography 69.3 (1993): 274–292.

    DOI: 10.2307/143451Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Compares “indigenous agriculture” and alternative modernization efforts as defined by academics with actual approaches used by groups of farmers in the highlands of Ecuador. The adequacy of these modernization efforts is discussed, along with their implications with respect to social and economic constraints.

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  • Doolittle, William E. “Agriculture in North America on the Eve of Contact: A Reassessment.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 82.3 (1992): 386–401.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1992.tb01966.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses ethnohistorical accounts of European explorers to argue that the agroecological landscapes of North America were much more complex than first believed. A companion paper in this volume addresses agriculture in Mesoamerica at the time of Columbus.

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  • Floyd, Barry. “Toward a More Specific Geography of Traditional Agriculture in the Tropics: Or Good-Bye to Machete and Dibble Stick.” Professional Geographer 21.4 (1969): 248–251.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0033-0124.1969.00248.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A short paper that laments the generalized treatment given to descriptions of small-scale tropical agricultural practices in geographic “textbook” literature (as of the 1960s). Floyd calls for geographers to follow the lead of ecologists and anthropologists who have discovered and described much more complex land-use modifications.

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  • Henshall, Janet D., and Leslie J. King. “Some Structural Characteristics of Peasant Agriculture in Barbados.” Economic Geography 42.1 (1966): 74–84.

    DOI: 10.2307/141833Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study that uses multivariate statistical procedures to identify and categorize types of agricultural systems (both crop and livestock) in peasant farming regions of Barbados.

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  • Hornsby, Stephen J. “Staple Trades, Subsistence Agriculture, and Nineteenth-Century Cape Breton Island.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 79.3 (1989): 411–434.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1989.tb00270.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses Cape Breton Island to show how complex patterns of human geography (settlement, land use, socioeconomic) were created by three seemingly disparate staples: cod fishing (old commercial), coal mining (new industrial), and subsistence farming.

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  • Johnston, Kevin J. “The Intensification of Pre-industrial Cereal Agriculture in the Tropics: Boserup, Cultivation Lengthening, and the Classic Maya.” Journal of Anthropological Archeology 22 (2003): 126–161.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0278-4165(03)00013-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Through the use of an archaeological model, Johnston demonstrates how increases in per-hectare crop outputs (through the use of intensive weeding and mulching, and instead of increased irrigation, fertilization, and other technologies) could have been used in tropical lowland conditions to help explain high-density population sustainability.

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  • Schroeder, Robert F. “Himalayan Subsistence Systems: Indigenous Agriculture in Rural Nepal.” Mountain Research and Development 5.1 (1985): 31–44.

    DOI: 10.2307/3673221Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses how the shift in agricultural production and practices from subsistence farming to more industrialized types of production has caused major environmental and social change in rural Nepal. Comparisons are drawn between Nepalese and Andean agricultural practices.

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  • Spencer, Joseph E., and Norman R. Stewart. “The Nature of Agricultural Systems.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 63.4 (1973): 529–544.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1973.tb00946.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An “argumentative contribution” to the discussion of how best to categorize and map agricultural practices and regions around the world. Defines thirteen agricultural systems (from primitive to industrialized) that are derived from organizational, economic, and operational characteristics.

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Historical Regional Descriptions

US agricultural yearbooks of the early 1900s often included a significant mapping component, as well as descriptions of various kinds of production, and mid-20th-century yearbooks likewise often focused on specific aspects (and regions) of US agricultural production. Examples are listed here as illustrations, but other volumes also are of use for historical agricultural patterns and conditions. Specifically, the US Department of Agriculture Yearbook of Agriculture for 1924 (US Department of Agriculture 1924) typifies the quite thorough mapping and descriptive chapters for a variety of agricultural production topics found in the yearbooks from around the 1920s. The USDA 1958 yearbook (US Department of Agriculture 1958), on the other hand, is one of the thematic yearbooks produced especially from the late 1930s to the 1970s. Finch and Baker 1917 and Whittlesey 1936 address global patterns of agricultural production at the times of World War I and the Great Depression, respectively. At less than global scales, Baker 1926 describes classification of North American agricultural regions, and Gibson 1948 considers characteristics at the margins of the US Corn Belt region of the time. (See also Hudson 1994, cited under General Overviews for consideration of the Corn Belt.) Additional materials relevant to historical descriptions may be found under Historical Conditions and Changes to Agricultural Systems.

  • Baker, Oliver E. “Agriculture Regions of North America, Part I: The Basis of Classification.” Economic Geography 2.4 (1926): 459–493.

    DOI: 10.2307/140849Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In a series of papers (starting with this one, which introduces his regions, and continued in a half-dozen more from 1927–1933 that detail each individual region), Baker breaks down North America into agricultural regions. The regions are based primarily on the physical and climatological variables that determined which types of crops and agricultural practices thrived in each region.

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  • Finch, Verner C., and Oliver E. Baker. Geography of the World’s Agriculture. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture and Government Printing Office, 1917.

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    Dot density maps, graphs, and text describe the distribution of various crops and livestock in the early 20th century.

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  • Gibson, Lyle E. “Characteristics of a Regional Margin of the Corn and Dairy Belts.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 38.4 (1948): 244–270.

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    Regional consideration of the US Upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, northern Illinois) and identification of the (then) “margin” between a dominance of dairying and predominantly row crop agriculture from Grant County, Wisconsin to Winnebago County, Illinois.

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  • US Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Yearbook 1923. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1924.

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    With a large section devoted to US agricultural statistics, typical of 1920s agricultural yearbooks, this volume also includes chapters on wheat, sugar, the sheep industry, forage, land use for crops, pasture, and forest, and farm ownership and tenancy. The topical chapters include numerous maps and graphs.

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  • US Department of Agriculture. Land: The Yearbook of Agriculture 1958. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1958.

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    Including a pictorial section and a number of aerial photos, this volume focuses on land use, land classification, policy effects on farmers and land ownership, and spatial variations in production.

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  • Walker, Richard A. The Conquest of Bread: 150 Years of Agribusiness in California. New York: New Press, 2004.

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    A historical and geographical account of California’s agricultural landscape from 1850 to the present. California is renowned for its agricultural prowess and pioneering technological breakthroughs, and this book recounts the ways in which the state has harnessed its environment and societal resources to create a system of agribusiness not seen anywhere else on the planet.

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  • Whittlesey, Derwent. “Major Agricultural Regions of the Earth.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 26.4 (1936): 199–240.

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    Classifies agricultural types of the day, presenting descriptions of the types and world maps showing general distributions.

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Research Themes

Assessment of the status of research and topics that are being or should be addressed in agricultural geography (and, more broadly, rural land-use and rural geography topics) occasionally occurs in the profession. These include an introductory-level textbook on the topic of rural geography (Woods 2005), an edited volume (Cloke, et al. 2006) that places agricultural geography within the broader theme of rural studies, along with Gregor 1970, which details both traditional agricultural geography and more theoretical or philosophical agri-“cultural” themes. Also, twice in the past three decades the Association of American Geographers has published an assessment of the discipline written by members of its various specialty groups. Napton 1989 and Duram and Archer 2003 have contributed chapters that describe work being done as part of the Contemporary Agriculture and Rural Geography Specialty Group, which has since become the Rural Geography Specialty Group.

  • Cloke, Paul, Terry Marsden, and Patrick H. Mooney, eds. Handbook of Rural Studies. London: SAGE, 2006.

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    This theoretically focused edited volume, which deals with concepts related to social conditions found within agricultural and rural studies, is included here as an illustration of the breadth of rural geography, including agricultural, natural resources, and agro-food systems topics.

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  • Duram, Leslie A., and J. Clark Archer. “Contemporary Agriculture and Rural Land Use.” In Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century. Edited by Gary L. Gaile and Cort J. Willmott, 326–338. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    Organized into four main research themes (rural regions, agricultural location theory, rural land-use change, and agricultural sustainability), this work outlines where agricultural geography has been and where it was in 2003 from the perspective of members of the Contemporary Agricultural and Rural Land Use Specialty Group (CARLU) of the Association of American Geographers (AAG).

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  • Gregor, Howard F. Geography of Agriculture: Themes in Research. Foundations of Economic Geography Series. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1970.

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    Describes focal themes and approaches to agricultural geography research in its heyday, many of which continue to be important in current agricultural and rural geography work. Along with consideration of landscape study and agriculture (including spatial organization, environment, culture, policy, and historical context), regional studies, and natural resource concerns, Gregor also considers philosophical and theoretical positions related to agricultural geography.

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  • Napton, Darrell E. “Contemporary Agriculture and Rural Land Use.” In Geography in America. Edited by Gary L. Gaile and Cort J. Willmott, 333–350. New York: Merrill, 1989.

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    Geography in America is a volume of state-of-the-discipline chapters oriented around specialty groups of the Association of American Geographers, predating the 2003 volume entitled Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century. Likewise, this chapter assesses the state of the agriculture-focused AAG specialty group, CARLU, at an earlier time than Duram and Archer 2003.

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  • Woods, Michael. Rural Geography. London: SAGE, 2005.

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    Like Cloke, et al. 2006, a consideration of the breadth of rural geography. Includes chapters about agricultural change, environmental change in rural areas, and countryside protection. Written as an introductory textbook.

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Agro-Food Systems and Agricultural Structure

Works on agricultural structure such as Bowler, et al. 1992, particularly as restructuring occurred from the late 1980s onward, generally address economic and management aspects of farming and connected activities. Mitchell 1996 details how migrant workers helped shape California’s current agricultural landscape. Broadway and Stull 2006 investigates vertical integration of farming with support industries and food processing in southwest Kansas, while Ramsey, et al. 2003 does the same with regard to tobacco production in Canada. Work in agro-food systems likewise takes up integration and connections among production, processing, and marketing. Related topics include Multifunctionality and Pluriactivity. Quality and local foods may also be addressed (see also Organic Farming and Sustainable Agriculture). “Productivism” and “post-productivism” are themes related to agricultural structure that Troughton 1997 investigates, but more on the side of individual farming decisions and policy relations. “Productivism” refers to the model dominant in the 20th century, where the focus is on maximizing production and what is known as conventional agriculture, with a high level of mechanization. Troughton 2005 references “Fordism” in agricultural geography, referring mainly to highly mechanized (assembly line) agriculture. “Post-productivism,” in contrast, gives more attention to environmental values and quality production (Evans, et al. 2002). (See also Pierce 1994, cited under Historical Conditions and Changes to Agricultural Systems.)

  • Bowler, Ian R., Christopher R. Bryant, and M. Duane Nellis, eds. Contemporary Rural Systems in Transition. Vol. 1, Agriculture and Environment. Wallingford, UK: CAB International, 1992.

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    Includes chapters addressing restructuring of agriculture, sectoral adjustments, diversification, and policies. An outcome of the 1991 quadrennial conference of rural geographers from the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

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  • Broadway, Michael J., and Donald D. Stull. “Meat Processing and Garden City, KS: Boom and Bust.” Journal of Rural Studies 22 (2006): 55–66.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2005.06.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Investigates the consequences of rapid expansion of large beef-processing operations (slaughtering and meat packing) in southwestern Kansas followed by a fire and closure of one of these packing plants. The operations attract large numbers of low-paid workers, creating social stress in communities. The closure of one of the important employers in the region created further economic and social disturbance.

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  • Evans, Nick, Carol Morris, and Michael Winter. “Conceptualizing Agriculture: A Critique of Post-productivism as the New Orthodoxy.” Progress in Human Geography 26.3 (2002): 313–332.

    DOI: 10.1191/0309132502ph372raSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that general adoption of a view of agriculture as shifting to a post-productivist model is unrealistic.

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  • Mitchell, Don. The Lie of the Land: Migrant Workers and the California Landscape. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

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    A historical account of how California’s migrant workers shaped the state’s current agricultural landscapes, specifically on issues related to labor and agribusiness prior to World War II. Focuses on labor movements, social/material environments, and social structure.

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  • Ramsey, Douglas, Carol Stewart, Michael Troughton, and Barry Smit. “Agricultural Restructuring of Ontario Tobacco Production.” Great Lakes Geographer 9.2 (2003): 71–93.

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    Describes growth of Ontario’s tobacco sector from 1920 to the late 1950s, then follows the two periods of restructuring, 1957 to 1981 and 1981 to 2003. Drivers of recent reduced tobacco farms and acreage include increased mechanization, anti-smoking campaigns, and inelastic markets.

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  • Troughton, Michael. “Scale Change, Discontinuity and Polarization in Canadian Farm-Based Rural Systems.” In Agricultural Restructuring and Sustainability. Edited by Brian Ilbery, Quentin Chiotti, and Timothy Rickard, 279–291. Wallingford, UK: CAB International, 1997.

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    Describes agriculture as a component of broader rural systems, and eastern versus western Canadian “farm-based rural systems.” A rather negative view of the effects of continued development of integrated/industrial agriculture (in contrast to Hart 2003, cited under Farms and Ranches).

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  • Troughton, Michael. “Fordism Rampant: The Model and Reality, as Applied to Production, Processing and Distribution in the North American Agro-food System.” In Rural Change and Sustainability: Agriculture, the Environment and Communities. Edited by Stephen Essex, Andrew Gilg, and Richard Yarwood, 13–27. Wallingford, UK: CAB International, 2005.

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    Considers “industrial restructuring” of the agro-food system in Canada and the United States, with the view that the post-productivist shifts that had been claimed by British geographers do not fit the North American continuation of industrialization and integration.

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Multifunctionality and Pluriactivity

These two concepts are related to complexity, or multiple dimensions of farms and farm life, and as Wilson 2009 argues, often these activities occur at different spatial and temporal scales. “Multifunctionality” is generally a reference to the recognition that agriculture, including farmlands, produces goods beyond the “food and fiber” or “food, fuel, and fiber” that are generally bound for the marketplace. In essence, it is a farm-based recognition that land used for agriculture produces—or has the potential to produce—multiple benefits (biodiversity, soil and water conservation, recreation, landscape, etc.). Reganold, et al. 2011 makes the case for this multiuse approach in an examination of how US agricultural land use has changed and will continue to change over time. Multifunctionality depends, in part, on farm management. Brouwer and van der Heide 2009 explores how governments may develop policies that support the production or protection of environmental services. Morgan, et al. 2010 and Fleskens, et al. 2009 explore multifunctional agriculture with reference to the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) (see also Bowler 1985, cited under Conservation Programs and Policy). While “multifunctionality” refers mainly to the physical attributes of the farm (and their management), “pluriactivity” refers generally to survival strategies of families operating small farms, frequently involving off-farm employment, as noted in Ohe 2001 and Evans and Ilbery 1993. Although off-farm employment has long been a feature of small family farms in regions where getting by is difficult and other employment is available, the pluriactivity theme became a noticeable component of agricultural geography in the 1980s. It continues to receive attention. Other authors may refer to “part-time” farming. Sometimes pluriactivity may include on-farm entrepreneurial activities involving creation of consumer goods or experiences for sale on the farm.

  • Brouwer, Floor, and C. Martijn van der Heide, eds. Multifunctional Rural Land Management: Economics and Policies. London: Earthscan, 2009.

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    With a perspective based on the role of economics in policy for rural land management and multifunctionality, covers topics relevant to the management of natural resources, conservation and conservation values, landscape values, sustainability, and agri-environmental programs.

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  • Evans, Nick J., and Brian W. Ilbery. “The Pluriactivity, Part-Time Farming, and Farm Diversification Debate.” Environment and Planning A 25 (1993): 945–959.

    DOI: 10.1068/a250945Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reviews terms in use regarding “nonconventional methods” farmers use to increase income. Takes the perspective of “restructuring” and applies a political economy approach to considering off-farm employment and other strategies.

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  • Fleskens, Luuk, Filomena Duarte, and Irmgard Eicher. “A Conceptual Framework for the Assessment of Multiple Functions of Agro-Ecosystems: A Case Study of Tras-os-Montes Olive Groves.” Journal of Rural Studies 25 (2009): 141–155.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2008.08.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based on the tendency of EU policy to support multifunctionality, and criticisms that this support is based on protectionism rather than multifunctional benefits, the authors present a framework for assessing multiple functions in agriculture.

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  • Morgan, Selyf Lloyd, Terry Marsden, Mara Miele, and Adrien Morley. “Agricultural Multifunctionality and Farmers’ Entrepreneurial Skills: A Study of Tuscan and Welsh Farmers.” Journal of Rural Studies 26 (2010): 116–129.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2009.09.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers connections among the European Common Agricultural Policy (which views multifunctionality favorably), more local/regional policies in two regions, multifunctionality, and entrepreneurship.

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  • Ohe, Yasuo. “Farm Pluriactivity and Contribution to Farmland Preservation: A Perspective on Evaluating Multifunctionality from Mountainous Hiroshima, Japan.” Japanese Journal of Rural Economics 3 (2001): 36–50.

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    Takes an economic analysis approach to assessing off-farm employment. Connects off-farm income to farmland preservation and multifunctionality and discusses policy implications.

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  • Reganold, John P., Douglas Jackson-Smith, Sandra S. Batie, et al. “Transforming U.S. Agriculture.” Science 332.6030 (2011): 670–671.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.1202462Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A short but important paper that outlines the increasingly important roles that government policy and public investments are making in informing land management decision making. Central to the article is the argument between conservation (only) or multifunctional land uses.

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  • Wilson, Geoff A. “The Spatiality of Multifunctional Agriculture: A Human Geography Perspective.” Geoforum 40 (2009): 269–280.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2008.12.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues for a conception of agricultural multifunctionality in terms of scale, particularly as a “nested hierarchy.” Multifunctionality has a much more direct “expression” at local scales than it does at national or global scales. As such, it is difficult compare outcomes from around the globe. A conceptual-theoretical paper.

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Farms and Ranches

Contemporary descriptions of the geography of farming types and specializations often focus on the shifting locations and spatial distributions of specific modes of farming, under the pressures of both modernization (intensification) and land-use and policy constraints. Industrialized agriculture tends to concentrate on mechanization and large operations, from growing crops (spatially large farms) to various types of livestock (many animals, often in spatially constrained pens or buildings). Ian R. Bowler and a group of mostly UK authors (Bowler 1992) discuss how agricultural production and types of operations have changed mostly the developed world. Hart 1991 and Hart 2003 describe farm enlargement and the modernization of agricultural production in the two examples of the US Midwest and California, arguably the two most agriculturally productive regions in North America. In two papers Everett G. Smith Jr. shows how farmers, especially the largest and most financially well off (Smith 1980), often go in search for more land at ever-increasing distances from their home farms (Smith 1975) to help them expand their productive capabilities.

  • Bowler, Ian R., ed. The Geography of Agriculture in Developed Market Economies. Harlow, UK: Longman, 1992.

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    Addresses a number of agricultural and farming topics and changes to agriculture from the perspective of more industrialized economies. With a mostly UK-based set of authors, the chapters particularly focus on conditions in England, but also touch on other parts of Great Britain and Ireland, western Europe and the USSR, North America, New Zealand, and Australia.

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  • Hart, John Fraser. “Part-Ownership and Farm Enlargement in the Midwest.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 81.1 (1991): 66–79.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1991.tb01679.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An assessment using data from the 1987 US Census of Agriculture (and earlier censuses) that maps farmland that is owned outright versus land that is rented in eight Midwestern states. Driving the change toward increased part-ownership was the enlargement of farms (and need for more land) as fewer farmers are found on the rural landscape.

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  • Hart, John Fraser. “Specialty Cropland in California.” Geographical Review 93.2 (2003): 153–170.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2003.tb00027.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An article that highlights the argument between those who believe farmland is being lost to urbanization and those who realize that even though farmland is being lost, productivity has increased to the point where we are able to produce more on less land. California’s Central Valley is used to illustrate these points.

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  • Smith, Everett G., Jr. “Fragmented Farms in the United States.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 65.1 (1975): 58–70.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1975.tb01018.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using several examples from across the United States, but focusing on Minnesota, Smith describes how farms are becoming more fragmented; that is, farmers have to travel greater distances from their homes in order to work their land.

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  • Smith, Everett G., Jr. “America’s Richest Farms and Ranches.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 70.4 (1980): 528–541.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1980.tb01330.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A geographical assessment of farms in the late 1970s that earned more than $1 million in the United States. Reasons for where such farms were located, and why they became so profitable, are based on a complex geography involving access to markets, resources (laborers, water, suitable land), as well as who owns/controls such lands.

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Farming Types and Specialties

The concentration of animals, in particular, has led to changing patterns of agriculture, with movement from locations under human pressure to the wide-open spaces, to minimize conflict over odor and water quality, to reduce costs of land and production, and to reap the benefits of clustering or agglomeration of production and processing. The trend from subsistence to production-based agriculture is well documented around the world in Turner and Brush 1987, as they follow twenty-one food-based commodities and describe how their “systems” of production have changed. They also shed light upon some of the most important environmental implications and consequences of these wholesale shifts to production-scale agriculture. Industrialized livestock production more often would be described as “operations” rather than “farms”—they bear little resemblance to traditional farming—and often take the form of feedlots, feedyards, or “concentrated animal feeding operations” (CAFOs). Cross 2006 investigates changing dairy production in California, while Harrington, et al. 2010 does the same in southwestern Kansas. Furuseth 1997 and Hart and Mayda 1997 report on similar trends with respect to hog production in North Carolina and Oklahoma, respectively.

  • Cross, John A. “Restructuring America’s Dairy Farms.” Geographical Review 96.1 (2006): 1–23.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2006.tb00385.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers locations and change in dairy farms across the United States. Focuses particularly on small and very large operations (“megadairies”) and shifts in size to megadairies of five hundred or more cows. Includes specific consideration of Amish farms. Builds on an earlier paper in the Geographical Review by the author from 2001, “Change in America’s Dairyland.”

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  • Furuseth, Owen J. “Restructuring of Hog Farming in North Carolina: Explosion and Implosion.” Professional Geographer 49.4 (1997): 391–403.

    DOI: 10.1111/0033-0124.00086Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Documents the development of industrial-corporate hog farming in North Carolina in the early 1990s. The number of hogs in North Carolina climbed quickly from 2 million to 9 million, while the number of hog farms decreased and became concentrated in only a handful of counties. This method of hog farming quickly diffused west to the Corn Belt.

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  • Harrington, Lisa M. B., Max Lu, and David E. Kromm. “Milking the Plains: Movement of Large Dairy Operations into Southwestern Kansas.” Geographical Review 100.4 (2010): 538–558.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2010.00057.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes the shifting distribution of large dairy production operations (megadairies) from the perspective of growth in southwestern Kansas, in the region of the Ogallala Aquifer and existing huge beef cattle feedlots or feedyards. Content related to Cross 2006 and Hart and Mayda 1997.

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  • Hart, John Fraser, and Chris Mayda. “Pork Palaces on the Panhandle.” Geographical Review 87.3 (1997): 396–400.

    DOI: 10.2307/216037Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes rapid expansion of hog operations (CAFOs) and processing plants (slaughtering and packing facilities) in the Oklahoma panhandle during the 1990s.

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  • Turner, Billie L., II, and Stephen B. Brush, eds. Comparative Farming Systems. New York: Guilford, 1987.

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    A collection of chapters that describe, in great detail, the various types of farming “systems” found around the planet, from swidden-based systems in the Amazon and Thailand to mechanized, production-oriented systems in the United States and Europe.

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Organic Farming and Sustainable Agriculture

Much of the more recent work relevant to agricultural geography connects to current issues of sustainability (Bowler 2002), including calls for support of organic agriculture (Duram 2005). Altieri 1995 is an early book about the science of sustainable agriculture, investigating the human–environment systems of agriculture. Other approaches to increasing sustainability of agriculture and agricultural output can include low or reduced inputs, such as those reported in Bell 2004, which details a group of Iowa farmers practicing agriculture “practically,” while Guthman 2004 investigates the agricultural machine that is California, where even organic agriculture can take on an industrial-scale appearance. Two other works, Essex, et al. 2005 and Ilbery, et al. 1997, are based on papers given at the quadrennial meetings of UK, Canadian, and US rural geographers, and detail various approaches to the conservation of natural resources and policy (including policy that may affect social and economic sustainability of farming, as well as environmental sustainability). Robinson 2008 contains work from a thematic group of the IGU, focuses mostly on the United Kingdom, and includes chapters on gene-modified organisms, productivism, and post-productivism.

  • Altieri, Miguel A. Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture. 2d ed. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995.

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    An early work about consideration of farming as human-created or human-shaped ecosystems, and management of farming based on ecological concepts. Although not written by a geographer or as “agricultural geography,” an important text for considering human–environment relations in the context of agriculture. Also touches on agricultural practices and ecological agricultural development programs in a variety of locations.

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  • Bell, Michael Mayerfield. Farming for Us All: Practical Agriculture and the Cultivation of Sustainability. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004.

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    Challenges the perception that within agriculture “bigger is better,” and sets out to show that “practical, sustainable agriculture” can (and should) be in our future.

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  • Bowler, Ian. “Developing Sustainable Agriculture.” Geography 87.3 (2002): 205–212.

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    Describes the standard three dimensions of sustainability (environmental, economic, and social), and the characteristics that reduce the sustainability of agriculture. Presents production of environmental goods, integrated farming, and “alternative agricultures” as approaches to increased sustainability, and describes structural supports for these approaches.

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  • Duram, Leslie A. Good Growing: Why Organic Farming Works. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.

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    Advocates for organic agriculture, describing environmental and social reasons to support family-based organic agriculture and using five US organic farming operations as case studies.

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  • Essex, Stephen J., Andrew W. Gilg, and Richard B. Yarwood eds. Rural Change and Sustainability: Agriculture, the Environment, and Communities. Wallingford, UK: CAB International, 2005.

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    Chapters in the sections “Agricultural Responses” and “Environmental Issues” are most appropriate to agricultural geography and agricultural sustainability. (Other sections are arranged around the themes of communities and governance.) Based on the 2003 quadrennial meeting of UK, Canadian, and US rural geographers.

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  • Guthman, Julie. Agrarian Dreams. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

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    An in-depth, social science study of organic production in California. Focuses on the structure, function, regulation, and perception of the organic sector, from its beginnings in the 1970s, and the outcomes of its growth through the 1990s and early 2000s. It compares and contrasts how organic agriculture is imagined and how it truly functions.

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  • Ilbery, Brian, Quentin Chiotti, and Timothy Rickard, eds. Agricultural Restructuring and Sustainability: A Geographical Perspective. Wallingford, UK: CAB International, 1997.

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    Numerous chapters related to agricultural sustainability. Based on the 1995 quadrennial meeting of UK, Canadian, and US rural geographers.

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  • Robinson, Guy M., ed. Sustainable Rural Systems: Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Communities. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008.

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    An edited volume based on the 2004 meeting of the Commission on the Sustainability of Rural Systems, an International Geographical Union (IGU) thematic group that meets annually. Includes several chapters on agriculture, particularly in the United Kingdom, with content on productivism versus post-productivism, genetically modified organisms, farming choice, and other topics.

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Patterns, Models, and von Thünen

The connection of agricultural geography to economic geography can be seen, in particular, with respect to the work of Johann Heinrich von Thünen, a landowner in a part of what is now Germany in the late 1700s to mid-1800s (see also the Oxford Bibliographies article on Economic Geography). Von Thünen is known for developing a “location theory” connecting intensity of production (specifically, kinds of agricultural crops) to ease of transportation to market (see also the Oxford Bibliographies article on Location Theory). For example, all else being equal, those products that are more perishable and require more intensive tending, such as vegetables or fresh milk, would be grown nearest a city, whereas lower-cost and more durable products such as wheat would be produced farther away, with the different kinds of goods being produced forming concentric zones around the market city where goods could be sold. Geographers continue to use and test von Thünen’s ideas against modern conditions in a variety of contexts, but still including agriculture. Other, more recent conceptual models and descriptions of patterns also are addressed in economic and agricultural geography. Garrison and Marble 1957 took an approach in keeping with the early days of the “quantitative revolution” in geography, with development of mathematical depictions of agricultural location theory. In contrast, Johnson 1962 reviewed von Thünen’s diagrammatic depictions of production zones (“rings”). With continued attention to location, transport, and agricultural specialization, but considering an earlier era, Leaman and Conkling 1975 dealt with changes in western New York during the mid-1800s. O’Kelly and Bryan 1996 reviews von Thünen’s contributions to agricultural location theory and economic geography, while Block and DePuis 2001 reviews his ideas in connection with geography, agricultural economics, and the sociology of agriculture. De Lisle 1982 considers spatial arrangements of crops on individual farms. Cromley 1982 and Cromley and Hanink 1989 both explore spatial and von Thünen distributions via economic modeling of potential farm decisions.

  • Block, Daniel, and E. Melanie DePuis. “Making the Country Work for the City: Von Thünen’s Ideas in Geography, Agricultural Economics and the Sociology of Agriculture.” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 60.1 (2001): 79–98.

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    Describes von Thünen’s ideal model, use over time, and shortcomings. Places von Thünen’s ideas in the context of the history of and applications in three disciplines or subdisciplines, contrasting geography, agricultural economics, and sociology. Uses dairy regions and milk production (“milksheds”) as an example.

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  • Cromley, Robert G. “The Von Thünen Model and Environmental Uncertainty.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 72.3 (1982): 404–410.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1982.tb01834.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A conceptual economic modeling approach to decisions regarding land allocations by farmers under environmental uncertainty.

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  • Cromley, Robert G., and Dean M. Hanink. “A Financial-Economic von Thünen Model.” Environment and Planning A 21.7 (1989): 951–960.

    DOI: 10.1068/a210951Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    With recognition that farmers’ objectives vary (e.g., from complete risk aversion to profit maximization), explores spatial implications with economic portfolio-based modeling.

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  • de Lisle, David de Garis. “Effects of Distance on Cropping Patters Internal to the Farm.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 72.1 (1982): 88–98.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1982.tb01385.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Looks at cropping patterns in the context of the farming system of Mennonite farmers in Manitoba, Canada. In this system, farmers live in the villages and travel to farm fields. Along with the distance factor, de Lisle considers variations in the physical environment, technological change, and social factors.

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  • Garrison, William L., and Duane F. Marble. “The Spatial Structure of Agricultural Activities.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 47.2 (1957): 137–144.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1957.tb01529.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the idea that “for every spatial location there is some jointly optimum intensity of land use, type of land use, and group of markets” (p. 137) that, with farmers’ decisions based on these characteristics, will lead to “spatially ordered” patterns of land use. Creates mathematical models based on factors considered by farmers.

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  • Johnson, Hildegard Binder. “A Note on Thünen’s Circles.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 52.2 (1962): 213–220.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1962.tb00406.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reviews the history behind von Thünen’s seminal 1826 publication, reproduces and describes figures from the book depicting theoretical patterns, and points out the difficulties of applying such models (generally assuming a physically undifferentiated plane) to reality.

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  • Leaman, J. Harold, and Edgar C. Conkling. “Transport Change and Agricultural Specialization.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 65.3 (1975): 425–432.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1975.tb01050.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A statistical approach, analyzing historical geography in western New York State between 1840 and 1860. Transportation costs and local comparative advantage were investigated via canonical correlation statistical methods. Various agricultural products were associated with different statistical factors. Findings supported the idea that specialization is related to transport costs.

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  • O’Kelly, Morton, and Deborah Bryan. “Agricultural Location Theory: Von Thünen’s Contribution to Economic Geography.” Progress in Human Geography 20.4 (1996): 457–475.

    DOI: 10.1177/030913259602000402Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thorough review of the literature relevant to agricultural location theory and the place of von Thünen’s ideas in the body of literature to the mid-1990s. Includes sections on empirical and historical studies, economic aspects, behavioral studies and game theory, and ideal/optimal spatial organization. Consideration of outlooks and prospects for the different lines of study also is included.

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Agriculture and Climate Change

With increasing concerns about climate change (starting particularly in the 1990s), as well as historic concern with the impacts of drought events and adaptations of farming practices to climate conditions in various world regions, there has been a history of geographic research on the connections between climate and agriculture. Many of these works consider potential effects of climate change, and possible effects on agricultural decisions. Easterling, et al. 1993 considers potential impacts of climate change on agriculture in the four-state region of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, Mearns, et al. 2001 does the same for the Great Plains. Also focusing on the Great Plains, Polsky 2004 connects past (1969–1992) climate conditions and agricultural sensitivities using a Ricardian approach. Smit and Skinner 2002 and Wall and Smit 2005 look into the consequences of climate change for Canadian agriculture, while Olesen and Bindi 2002 looks at shifting crop locations in Europe resulting from changes in climate and suggests possible mitigation efforts. Harrington and Lu 2002 looks into beef producers’ perception of climate change. Chiotti and Johnston 1995 describes the need for various directions of research relevant to climate change and agriculture.

  • Chiotti, Quentin P., and Tom Johnston. “Extending the Boundaries of Climate Change Research: A Discussion on Agriculture.” Journal of Rural Studies 11.3 (1995): 335–350.

    DOI: 10.1016/0743-0167(95)00023-GSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Makes a case for more research on impact assessment, critical methods and theories, current agricultural adaptations to climate and social conditions, and decision making. Based on a literature review of works about climate change and impact assessment, natural hazards, and agricultural restructuring.

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  • Easterling, William E., Pierre R. Crosson, Norman J. Rosenberg, Mary S. McKenney, Laura A. Katz, and Kathleen M. Lemon. “Paper 2. Agricultural Impacts of and Responses to Climate Change in the Missouri-Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas (MINK) Region.” Climatic Change 24 (1993): 23–61.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF01091476Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Assesses potential impacts and responses for agriculture in a four-state region with a 2030 target year, using 1930s conditions as an analog for climate expectations, and the Erosion Crop Productivity Impact Calculator (EPIC) combined with potential carbon dioxide fertilization. Different scenarios are examined.

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  • Harrington, Lisa M. B., and Max Lu. “Beef Feedlots in Southwestern Kansas: Local Change, Perceptions, and the Global Change Context.” Global Environmental Change 12.4 (2002): 273–282.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0959-3780(02)00041-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes changes in the beef cattle industry in southwestern Kansas and addresses perceptions and attitudes of feedlot operators toward climate change and potential mitigation based on a 1998 survey.

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  • Mearns, Linda O., William E. Easterling, Cindy Hays, and David Marx. “Comparison of Agricultural Impacts of Climate Change Calculated from High and Low Resolution Climate Change Scenarios: Part I. The Uncertainty Due to Spatial Scale.” Climatic Change 51 (2001): 131–172.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1012297314857Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Compares climate scenarios at different scales, with the understanding that higher resolution climate information can yield better regional impact assessments, using the commonly applied EPIC crop model. The focal region is the central Great Plains, and crops considered are corn, soybeans, and wheat.

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  • Olesen, Jørgen E., and Marco Bindi. “Consequences of Climate Change for European Agricultural Productivity, Land Use and Policy.” European Journal of Agronomy 16 (2002): 239–262.

    DOI: 10.1016/S1161-0301(02)00004-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reviews expected effects of climate change on European agriculture, including crops grown, shifts in location, and changes to weather-related risk and nutrient availability. Suggests a need for policies supporting adaptation to and mitigation of climate change as a part of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

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  • Polsky, Colin. “Putting Space and Time in Ricardian Climate Change Impact Studies: Agriculture in the U.S. Great Plains, 1969–1992.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 94.2 (2004): 549–564.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.2004.00413.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Applies statistical methods (regression) and a spatial econometric approach to consideration of climate conditions and variability, land values, and sensitivities and vulnerability of Great Plains agriculture. Considers spatial variability across the Great Plains region.

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  • Smit, Barry, and Mark W. Skinner. “Adaptation Options in Agriculture to Climate Change: A Typology.” Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 7 (2002): 85–114.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1015862228270Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based mostly on the Canadian context, presents a classification of potential adaptations to climate change. General categories of adaptation types include government programs and insurance, farm production practices, technological developments, and farm financial management; examples of these broad types are presented.

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  • Wall, Ellen, and Barry Smit. “Climate Change Adaptation in Light of Sustainable Agriculture.” Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 27.1 (2005): 113–123.

    DOI: 10.1300/J064v27n01_07Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers agricultural risk and adaptations with respect to climate and weather conditions, based on Canadian data. Considers higher adaptive capacity and resiliency as indicators of greater sustainability.

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Conservation Programs and Policy

Conservation efforts within agricultural landscapes most often focus on soil, water, and wildlife. As agricultural production has intensified, farmers have been continually asking more from each acre of land they work. This often leads to declines in wildlife quantity and/or diversity, compromised water quantity and/or quality, and loss of soil fertility. These alterations often create or increase tensions between the dwindling number of those involved in agriculture and the ever-increasing number of those who are not. To quell these tensions and negative aspects of increased production, government programs have been created to take land out of production, or to protect it from ever going into production. Many of these programs rely heavily on funding from the federal government, and acres enrolled in these programs at any given time are more or less a function of which practice will yield a higher profit: production or conservation. Policy considerations in agricultural geography frequently address land-use policy in the United States, particularly the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). See also Multifunctionality and Pluriactivity for resources related to the role of CAP. In this section Bowler 1985 details the structure of the CAP, while Brouwer and van der Straaten 2002 also addresses policy debates between agriculture and conservation in Europe. The rest of the articles deal with US conservation practices, both national and local. Locally, Napton 1990 describes efforts in and around the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area to implement a farmland protection program in the face of continued agricultural expansion on the northern fringe of the Corn Belt. Most work in the United States has dealt with the CRP. Laingen 2011 investigates how changing amounts of land enrolled in the CRP affected wildlife population, while Leathers and Harrington 2000 investigates “slippage.” Clay 2004 and Graham-Rowe 2011 touch on other policy-driven issues with respect to how certain types of agricultural commodities are produced, as well as what the future holds for multiuse commodities that may introduce competition between those used for both food and fuel.

  • Bowler, Ian R. Agriculture under the Common Agricultural Policy: A Geography. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1985.

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    Dated, but reasonable background on CAP/European policy. Includes CAP development, its place in the European Community, trade under CAP, but also European regional agricultural specializations and change, and changes in farm size and structure

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  • Brouwer, Floor, and Jan van der Straaten, eds. Nature and Agriculture in the European Union: New Perspectives on Policies that Shape the European Countryside. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2002.

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    An ecological economics perspective on policies, their effects on agriculture, and impacts on the environment. Addresses mitigation of impacts and regulation, identifying the main threats to the natural environment as intensification and extensification of agriculture. Includes observations that economic viability and targeted agri-environmental programs are needed in areas with high conservation values, and that the “Beneficiary Pays Principle” approach holds promise.

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  • Clay, Jason W. World Agriculture and the Environment: A Commodity-by-Commodity Guide to Impacts and Practices. Washington, DC: Island, 2004.

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    Details the environmental implications and consequences of the production of twenty-one food-, fiber-, and industrial-based commodities: tea to tobacco, corn to cassava, and sorghum to salmon. Each commodity is discussed with respect to its historical production, its uses today, and what environmental issues loom over its continued production.

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  • Graham-Rowe, Duncan. “Beyond Food versus Fuel.” Nature 474 (2011): S6–S8.

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    A discussion of biofuels and the potential competition for farmland as world population nears nine billion. Comparisons are made between dual use and dedicated crops and how the production of both may affect soil and water quality; the ability to produce enough food, fiber, and fuel for a growing population; and research to ensure sufficient quantities of all for all.

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  • Laingen, Christopher R. “Historic and Contemporary Trends of the Conservation Reserve Program and Ring-Necked Pheasants in South Dakota.” Great Plains Research 21.1 (2011): 95–103.

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    Tracks, both spatially and temporally, changes in South Dakota’s ring-necked pheasant population that result from changes in rural land-use patterns—specifically, how pheasant populations change with the increases and decreases in CRP acres. As conservation acres increase, so do pheasants. Much of the fluctuation is directly tied to agricultural economics.

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  • Leathers, Nancy, and Lisa M. B. Harrington. “Effectiveness of Conservation Reserve Programs and Land “Slippage” in Southwestern Kansas.” Professional Geographer 52.1 (2000): 83–93.

    DOI: 10.1111/0033-0124.00207Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Documents the occurrence of “slippage” of CRP lands in southwestern Kansas. Slippage occurs when cropland is taken out of production for conservation purposes, and to make up for the loss of cropland, land not previously farmed (pastureland, etc.) is brought into production.

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  • Napton, Darrell E. “Regional Farmland Protection: The Twin Cities Experience.” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 45.4 (1990): 446–449.

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    An examination of a regional/local-scale farmland protection program: Minnesota’s Metropolitan Agricultural Preserves (MAP) Act. The 1970s saw increased national awareness concerning premature farmland conversion to developed and urban land uses, and this paper examines those efforts to slow farmland loss.

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Water and Wetlands

Since people began practicing agriculture, two things have been necessary for it: land and water. Without land, agriculture does not happen. The same can be said about water; however, sometimes there is such a thing as too much water, as in wetlands. This section provides a few examples of some of the work that has been done, focusing entirely on the United States, regarding having either too much water, thus having to drain it before any type of agricultural practice could begin, or not having enough initially, but finding a source (e.g., an underground aquifer) and having to learn along the way how to use it sustainably. Though early work was done related to wetland loss in Hewes 1951, which looked at the once-glaciated region of the upper Midwest and used historic documents that told the story of this particular type of land change, the seminal work concerning wetland loss is Prince 1997, which documents the scale at which wetlands were lost in the American Midwest and the forces that drove their disappearance. Historical accounts were also used in Amato, et al. 2001 to document the loss of wetlands and the subsequent expansion of agricultural production in southwestern Minnesota, taking a much broader approach and including both ecological and socioeconomic changes. Conversely, some agricultural regions suffer from lack of water. Kettle, et al. 2007 and Kromm and White 1992 both report on the depletion of the High Plains–Ogallala Aquifer in southwestern Kansas.

  • Amato, Anthony A., Janet Timmerman, and Joseph A. Amato, eds. Draining the Great Oasis. Marshall, MN: Crossings, 2001.

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    An environmental history of southwestern Minnesota, representative of North America’s vast prairie region, where large-scale wetland drainage allowed large-scale agricultural production to take place. The book focuses on the environmental transformations of drainage, as well as the impacts to both the ecological (plants and animals) and societal (rural, agricultural) systems.

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  • Hewes, Leslie. “The Northern Wet Prairie of the United States: Nature, Sources of Information, and Extent.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 41.4 (1951): 307–323.

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    This region stretches from central Illinois northwestward into the Red River valley of North Dakota. Once glaciated, this area was (and in many places is still) drained by a vast network of artificial tile and ditches in order for it to be agriculturally viable. This paper details the author’s search for historic documents and publications that detail what the prairies were like at the time of settlement.

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  • Kettle, Nathan, Lisa M. B. Harrington, and John A. Harrington Jr. “Groundwater Depletion and Agricultural Land Use Change in the High Plains: A Case Study from Wichita County, Kansas.” Professional Geographer 59.2 (2007): 221–235.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9272.2007.00609.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analysis of changes in cropping and land use in an area overlying some of the depleted parts of the Ogallala–High Plains aquifer system. Water use exceeding renewal rates has resulted in loss of the resource, at least in terms of there being insufficient water available for economical farming use.

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  • Kromm, David E., and Stephen E. White, eds. Groundwater Exploitation in the High Plains. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1992.

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    Consideration of the use of groundwater for irrigation in the High Plains portion of the US Great Plains states. Includes fossil water of the Ogallala aquifer and High Plains aquifer system and subregions of the High Plains, along with consideration of policy and technology aspects of water use.

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  • Prince, Hugh C. Wetlands of the American Midwest: A Historical Geography of Changing Attitudes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

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    Documents the changing views people have on wetlands, focused on the seven-state region of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Once thought of as a nuisance in the way of agricultural productivity, the vast majority of Midwestern wetlands have been drained. Policy treatment of wetlands has changed with better understanding of the important roles wetlands play in promoting ecosystem health.

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Agricultural Land Change and Monitoring

With ever-increasing demands for increased production from agricultural lands, in response to population growth, new uses for agricultural crops, and continued competition for land, it is crucial to develop and maintain comparable methods and models for monitoring the use of these lands. As technology such as remotely sensed imagery continues to improve (Boryan, et al. 2011), we are able to map more specifically the various types of crops being produced. These data can then be used alongside socioeconomic and also perhaps other more qualitative data (Drummond 2007; Drummond, et al. 2012; Sleeter 2008) in developing coupled human and natural systems approaches (CHANs) related to agricultural land change. Improved modeling to help aid in assessment and monitoring programs requires high-quality statistical data, such as those that Pierce and Furuseth 1983 suggests to use as input to help drive the models.

  • Boryan, Claire, Zhengwei Yang, Rick Mueller, and Mike Craig. “Monitoring US Agriculture: The US Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Cropland Data Layer Program.” Geocarto International 26.5 (2011): 341–358.

    DOI: 10.1080/10106049.2011.562309Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A description of the mission of the USDA NASS Cropland Data Layer Program. This program uses remotely sensed imagery to produce 30-meter raster data for more than one hundred different agricultural land cover classes in the contiguous United States (see Cropland Data Layer, cited under Agricultural Data Sources).

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  • Drummond, Mark A. “Regional Dynamics of Grassland Change in the Western Great Plains.” Great Plains Research 17.2 (2007): 133–144.

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    As drought-tolerant crop varieties become increasingly common, the westward expansion of agriculture, primarily the corn/soybean belt, has, in many areas of the Great Plains, replaced both grassland ecosystems and small-grain agricultural ecosystems as the dominant type of agricultural practice. This paper examines that change from 1970 to 2000 through the use of remotely sensed satellite imagery in conjunction with the examination of local, regional, and national-scale socioeconomic driving forces.

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  • Drummond, Mark A., Roger F. Auch, Krista A. Karstensen, Kristi L. Sayler, Janis L. Taylor, and Thomas R. Loveland. “Land Change Variability and Human-Environment Dynamics in the United States Great Plains.” Land Use Policy 29.3 (2012): 710–723.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2011.11.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Land cover classes, including agricultural, are assessed within and between sixteen ecoregions in the US Great Plains from 1970 to 2000. The prevailing story of land change in these regions was widespread agricultural expansion prior to 1986, when the Conservation Reserve Program was enacted. Since 1986, and up until the study’s conclusion in 2000, agricultural land cover has converted to grasslands.

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  • Pierce, John T., and Owen J. Furuseth. “Assessing the Adequacy of North American Agricultural Land Resources.” Geoforum 14.2 (1983): 413–425.

    DOI: 10.1016/0016-7185(83)90038-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Application of economic concepts such as supply and demand to agricultural land in the United States and Canada, with concern about losses of agricultural land and constraints as background impetus for the paper.

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  • Sleeter, Benjamin M. “Late 20th Century Land Change in the Central California Valley Ecoregion.” California Geographer 48.1 (2008): 27–60.

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    The Central Valley of California is one of the world’s leading producers of high-value specialty crops. The majority of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts produced in the United States come from this region. This region is also relatively small and has many physically unique attributes not found in other parts of the country. Any changes to agricultural land quantity and/or quality here could have serious implications.

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Global Considerations

Much of this entry focuses on Western and Anglophone work and locations. However, agriculture and geographic studies of agriculture are, of course, concerns for other regions, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America, as discussed in Grigg 1969, and even for prehistory (see Evolution of Agriculture). In some cases, countries of consideration may be considered as “less developed” or “developing,” but it is difficult to generalize the development levels of many world regions. Indeed, some countries are both less developed and more developed internally, depending on the variability of conditions within them. Some literature considers the variability and connections among regions or between specific countries, including trade and the effects of policies. Other themes touch on connections of agriculture to land or resource management and conditions, the potential effects of—and adaptations to—climate change, and the scales of agricultural operations, as well as particular crops or livestock. There are frequent considerations of resource (re)distribution and control, and political ecology is a frequent framework for such studies (see also the Oxford Bibliographies article on Political Ecology). Broad-scale considerations of agriculture and land use or land cover change are often based on remote sensing, as seen in Ramankutty and Foley 1998 and Ramankutty, et al. 2002 (see also the article on Remote Sensing). Some of the related work on global considerations (e.g., Foley, et al. 2005 and DeFries, et al. 2006) is linked to concerns with global environmental change and biodiversity loss, ecosystem goods and services, and growing human populations. See also Historical Regional Descriptions.

  • DeFries, Ruth, Gregory P. Asner, and Jonathan Foley. “A Glimpse Out the Window: Landscapes, Livelihoods, and the Environment.” Environment 48.8 (2006): 22–36.

    DOI: 10.3200/ENVT.48.8.22-36Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers global distributions of agricultural production, food consumption, types of agriculture and agricultural stages, and tradeoffs between agricultural land use and other land covers and uses.

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  • Foley, Jonathan A., Ruth DeFries, Gregory P. Asner, et al. “Global Consequences of Land Use.” Science 309 (2005): 570–574.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.1111772Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Includes generalized world maps of croplands, pasture and rangelands, and natural vegetation (types of vegetation that would exist without human-caused changes), and presents alternative models of agricultural production.

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  • Grigg, David. “Agricultural Regions of the World: Review and Reflections.” Economic Geography 45.2 (1969): 95–132.

    DOI: 10.2307/143367Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thorough overview of agricultural regions. The majority of the paper is spent comparing past regionalization efforts from initial efforts based on climate and soils, to more recent attempts that classify agricultural regions by systems-based or economic variables.

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  • Harlan, Jack R. “Agricultural Origins: Centers and Noncenters.” Science 174 (1971): 468–474.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4008.468Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A short, succinct, and dated piece that details three agricultural “centers” (Mesopotamia, northern China, and Mesoamerica) where distinct agricultural practices originated, and three agricultural “noncenters” (Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America) where early agriculture existed but no clear centers can be identified.

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  • Ramankutty, Navin, and Jonathan A. Foley. “Characterizing Patterns of Global Land Use: An Analysis of Global Croplands Data.” Global Biogeochemical Cycles 12.4 (1998): 667–685.

    DOI: 10.1029/98GB02512Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents satellite remote sensing-based procedures, analysis of cropland distributions, and color maps by major world regions (North America, South America, Africa, Eurasia, and Australia-Pacific). Includes mapped comparisons with other global estimates.

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  • Ramankutty, Navin, Jonathan A. Foley, and Nicholas J. Olejniczak. “People on the Land: Changes in Global Population and Croplands during the 20th Century.” Ambio 31.3 (2002): 251–257.

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    Maps and analyses of changes in population and cropland cover and intensification by major world regions.

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Globalization and Policies

Various topics are relevant to general global—and “globalization”—concerns with agriculture. Globalization, very simply, concerns both the increasing economic connections (e.g., trade) and interdependencies among countries, and increasing similarities or homogeneity in culture, language, economic systems, and so on. Some policies that relate to levels of globalization, either supporting it or put up as a form of defense, include establishment of tariffs (fees or taxes on imports) and subsidies (economic support for domestic production), as well as international agreements. Agricultural geography does not take up these topics with great frequency (although see Conservation Programs and Policy and Water and Wetlands for topics linked to subsidies for environmental reasons), but they do appear. During World Trade Organization (WTO) talks, Potter and Burney 2002 considered the place of multifunctionality with respect to domestic supports. Hollander 2004 also focuses on multifunctionality and WTO, applying ideas specifically to sugar production in Florida; Chevassus-Lozza and Daniel 2006 considers changes to tariffs and subsidies and their effects on agriculture in France. Also taking a regional approach, Bradshaw 2004 investigates the effects of reduced subsidy supports on crop choices and possible increased diversity in Saskatchewan, Canada. Globalization’s effects on production, markets, and competition, with the apple industries in Chile and New Zealand as the connected case studies, are covered in McKenna and Murray 2002. Another market connection is described in Barrett, et al. 1999, specifically movement of produce from Kenya to the United Kingdom, and the influences of UK demand on agriculture in Kenya.

  • Barrett, Hazel R., Brian W. Ilbery, Angela W. Browne, and Tony Binns. “Globalization and the Changing Networks of Food Supply: The Importation of Fresh Horticultural Produce from Kenya into the UK.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 24 (1999): 159–174.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0020-2754.1999.00159.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Investigates relationships among globalization, consumers, wholesale and retail systems, UK imports of Kenyan produce (fruit, vegetables, and cut flowers), and effects on Kenyan agricultural producers. Includes emphasis on marketing/commodity chains, and indicates that current market systems and regulation favor larger producers and integrated horticultural production (over small farmers) in Kenya.

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  • Bradshaw, Ben. “Plus C’est la Même Chose? Questioning Crop Diversification as a Response to Agricultural Deregulation in Saskatchewan, Canada.” Journal of Rural Studies 20 (2004): 35–48.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0743-0167(03)00033-0Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the suggestion that reduced subsidies could result in farmers’ decisions toward reduced specialization and/or greater diversification. The focus is on Saskatchewan, which has historically been a region of wheat specialization, and the results of discontinuation of export and revenue supports. Reviews forms of and motives for diversification. Based on data analysis, concludes that Saskatchewan farmers had not diversified following policy changes.

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  • Chevassus-Lozza, Emmanuelle, and Karine Daniel. “Market Openness and Geographical Concentration of Agricultural and Agro-food Activities: The Challenges for French Regions.” Canadian Journal of Regional Science 29.1 (2006): 21–42.

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    Addresses the effects of WTO agreements and liberalization of trade policies (with required reductions of internal subsidies) and describes factors related to spatial concentration of agricultural activities. Proceeds with analysis of “market openness” on agricultural and agro-food networks distributions in France.

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  • Hollander, Gail M. “Agricultural Trade Liberalization, Multifunctionality, and Sugar in the South Florida Landscape.” Geoforum 35 (2004): 299–312.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2003.11.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes European Union support for the concept of multifunctionality to address concerns with environmental and domestic agricultural production along with GATT/WTO (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization) requirements. Identifies “weak” and “strong” multifunctionality and explores applicability of the concept to sugar production concerns in Florida.

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  • McKenna, Megan K. L., and Warwick E. Murray. “Jungle Law in the Orchard: Comparing Globalization in the New Zealand and Chilean Apple Industries.” Economic Geography 78.4 (2002): 495–514.

    DOI: 10.2307/4140800Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores restructuring and the status of the global apple market and effects on two competing apple-producing countries, Chile and New Zealand; the “theft” of a restricted New Zealand varietal by Chilean producers; and vulnerabilities of producers in a global market.

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  • Potter, Clive, and Jonathan Burney. “Multifunctionality in the WTO—Legitimate Non-trade Concern or Disguised Protectionism?” Journal of Rural Studies 18 (2002): 35–47.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0743-0167(01)00031-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Addresses the environmental part of multifunctionality with respect to policy talks, including validity of the argument that policy changes would weaken joint production of food and environmental services, and the implications of multifunctionality for policy design and compatibility with WTO rules. Conclusions include a view that market liberalization may require domestic support for environmental goods and services.

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Africa

Work on agricultural geography in Africa ranges from traditional considerations of types of agriculture (see Historical Regional Descriptions) to concerns with landownership, interactions between farming activities and natural resources, access to markets, and climatic stress. Benneh 1972 is an example of the more traditional approach to agricultural geography, with the exception that it lacks maps: Benneh describes a variety of approaches to agriculture or agricultural practices in tropical sub-Saharan Africa. Birch-Thomsen, et al. 2001, Moseley 2005, and Rasmussen and Reenberg 2012 address resource use and environmental management related to agriculture in Tanzania, Mali, and Burkina Faso, respectively. Both Moseley 2006 and Thornton 2009 are concerned with land rights in South Africa. Morgan and Solarz 1994 discusses some of the issues that have kept agricultural production low in sub-Saharan Africa, while Weiner 1989 focuses specifically on the disparities between whites and blacks with respect to access to agricultural resources needed for success.

  • Benneh, George. “Systems of Agriculture in Tropical Africa.” Economic Geography 48.3 (1972): 244–257.

    DOI: 10.2307/142906Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a descriptive typology of farming and agricultural production in tropical Africa. Unfortunately, lacks maps, except for a single Ghanaian village land-use diagram.

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  • Birch-Thomsen, Torben, Pia Frederiksen, and Hans-Otto Sano. “A Livelihood Perspective on Natural Resource Management and Environmental Change in Semiarid Tanzania.” Economic Geography 77.1 (2001): 41–66.

    DOI: 10.2307/3594086Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Connects natural resource use, livelihood strategies, agricultural expansion and change based on several factors, and land access and control in a part of Tanzania, identifying three household strategies: accumulation, “peasant,” and coping. The authors connect these strategies to land management and resource access.

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  • Morgan, William B., and Jerzy A. Solarz. “Agricultural Crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa: Development Constraints and Policy Problems.” Geographical Journal 160.1 (1994): 57–73.

    DOI: 10.2307/3060142Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A discussion of the many problems facing agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa: limited modern inputs, land tenure problems, poverty, lack of capital, lack of government support, and international competition, to name a few. The authors conclude that these barriers, along with others both political and economic, may to too great to overcome.

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  • Moseley, William G. “Global Cotton and Local Environmental Management: The Political Ecology of Small-Hold Farmers in Southern Mali.” Geographical Journal 171.1 (2005): 36–55.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2005.00148.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores possible differentiation of rich and poor households with respect to soil management practices, possible factors relevant to differences, and potential international driving forces related to soil resource management in the context of cotton growing in Mali. Suggests that poorer land management is more associated with the richer farmers than with poorer ones.

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  • Moseley, William G. “Farm Workers, Agricultural Transformation, and Land Reform in Western Cape Province, South Africa.” Focus on Geography 49.1 (2006): 1–7.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1949-8535.2006.tb00052.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines commercial farming, background knowledge of farm workers regarding agricultural land management, and land redistribution efforts as related to other conditions.

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  • Rasmussen, Laura Vang, and Anette Reenberg. “Land Use Rationales in Desert Fringe Agriculture.” Applied Geography 34 (2012): 595–605.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2012.03.005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Investigates, via multiple methods and data sources, land-use decisions, land cover change, driving forces, or factors related to change (including population) in a small village of Burkina Faso, for 1956–2010. Driving forces have changed over time, and decisions may be based on economic, ecological, or sociocultural concerns (“rationality”).

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  • Thornton, Alec. “Pastures of Plenty? Land Rights and Community-Based Agriculture in Peddie, a Former Homeland Town in South Africa.” Applied Geography 29 (2009): 12–20.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2008.06.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores continuing issues in post-apartheid South Africa in the context of a former “homeland town” and the Masizame Community Garden Project. Includes description of historical context and a project timeline and suggests that issues holding back local people’s ownership rights include poor communication and insufficient transparency of land application processes.

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  • Weiner, Daniel. “Agricultural Restructuring in Zimbabwe and South Africa.” Development and Change 20.3 (1989): 401–428.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7660.1989.tb00353.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that for agricultural production in Zimbabwe and South Africa to be truly democratic, the majority of rural producers need to have proper access to resources. This differed with what was actually occurring at the time of publication, which was that most of the needed resources were going to white and emerging black elite farms.

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Asia

Asia—including East Asia, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and Southwest Asia (the “Middle East”)—contains a very large proportion of the world’s population. Though there has been a great deal of urbanization and industrialization across Asia, there still are many people whose livelihoods are agricultural; and, of course, agriculture continues to feed even the burgeoning urban areas. Thus, agricultural geography is relevant here, as in the rest of the world. Fuller 2006 offers a temporal and spatial overview of the origins and diffusion of agriculture in Southeast Asia, while Rigg 1998 takes a broader approach and outlines changes to rural demographics in response to changing agricultural systems. The largest countries, China and India, generally garner the greatest amount of attention. Studies from India (Dayal 1984 and Singh 2000) investigate changes to agricultural production and subsequent environmental consequences caused by innovations resulting from Green Revolution initiatives, while Liu 2000 discusses how agricultural land use in China tends to be more closely tied to proximity to local labor forces than to markets. Nepal has received attention, particularly with respect to agricultural sensitivity and adaptations to climate conditions (Chhertri 2011 and Chhertri, et al. 2012), as has Japan, with Pritchard and Curtis 2004, a paper on the impacts that national-scale agricultural policies specific to dairy farming have on international trade.

  • Chhertri, Netra. “Climate Sensitivity Measure of Agricultural Intensity: Case of Nepal.” Applied Geography 31 (2011): 808–819.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2010.08.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using climate variables, the author develops a “crop potential index” (CPI) measurement to help quantify agricultural intensity. This method is compared to the “cropping intensity” (CI) method to discern which regions of Nepal are more prone to changes in agricultural productivity based on changes in climatic variability.

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  • Chhertri, Netra, Pashupati Chaudhary, Puspa Raj Tiwari, and Ram Baran Yadaw. “Institutional and Technological Innovation: Understanding Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change in Nepal.” Applied Geography 33 (2012): 142–150.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2011.10.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An overview of how Nepalese farmers and its agriculture-supporting institutions (government research offices and nongovernmental organizations) have created and implemented on-demand climate sensitive technologies to help increase agricultural output in the face of changing climate.

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  • Dayal, Edison. “Agricultural Productivity in India: A Spatial Analysis.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 74.1 (1984): 98–123.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1984.tb01437.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A statistical approach that measures and maps agricultural productivity in India using three indices: land productivity, labor productivity, and aggregate productivity.

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  • Fuller, Dorian Q. “Agricultural Origins and Frontiers in South Asia: A Working Synthesis.” Journal of World Prehistory 20 (2006): 1–86.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10963-006-9006-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A synthesis of data from archaeobotany, archaeozoology, and Neolithic excavations that provides an overview of early agriculture in South Asia. The paper also reviews evidence for the origins and diffusion of crops and livestock from Southwest Asia into South Asia, and suggests how these may be similar to those that occurred in Africa and North America.

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  • Liu, Lee. “Labor Location and Agricultural Land Use in Jilin, China.” Professional Geographer 52.1 (2000): 74–83.

    DOI: 10.1111/0033-0124.00206Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Where most agricultural land-use theory places most of its emphasis on proximity to markets as being the driving force of local land use, this paper argues that labor centers (agricultural villages) are more important in determining adjacent or nearby agricultural land-use patterns. Jilin Province in northeast China is used as a case study.

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  • Pritchard, Bill, and Rebecca Curtis. “The Political Construction of Agro-Food Liberalization in East Asia: Lessons from the Restructuring of Japanese Dairy Provisioning.” Economic Geography 80.2 (2004): 173–190.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1944-8287.2004.tb00306.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses Japan’s government-controlled dairy industry to demonstrate how international trade organizations often fail to take into consideration the importance of national-scale agricultural institutions.

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  • Rigg, Jonathan. “Rural-Urban Interactions, Agriculture, and Wealth: A Southeast Asian Perspective.” Progress in Human Geography 22.4 (1998): 497–522.

    DOI: 10.1191/030913298667432980Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An overview of the marked changes in rural life in Southeast Asia with respect to changes in rural and agricultural demographics.

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  • Singh, R. B. “Environmental Consequences of Agricultural Development: A Case Study from the Green Revolution State of Haryana, India.” Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment 82 (2000): 97–103.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0167-8809(00)00219-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    While the Green Revolution has helped many in India to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, it has also resulted in environmental degradation. Continued increased agricultural productivity and intensity have been a boon for producers, but this has had major impacts on natural resources and ecosystem sustainability.

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Latin America and the Caribbean

The Amazon and Amazonian land-use and cover change have received exceptional attention relevant to agricultural geography. With high levels of human movement into the Amazon Basin, particularly in Brazil (which holds most of the Amazonian region), this is the largest remaining agricultural frontier in the world; it also has received global attention owing to concerns that the spread of agriculture comes at the cost of great losses of rainforest and biodiversity and climate disruption. Lopez and Sierra 2010; Caldas, et al. 2007; and Giovana, et al. 2012 all investigate land-use change in the Amazon—specifically the transition from forest to agricultural land use—albeit using various methods and data to do so. Mexico also has received significant attention, particularly with respect to land reform and its effects, as studied in Klepies and Vance 2003 and Smith, et al. 2009 in regard to Mexico’s PROCAMPO and PROCEDE initiatives. Binford, et al. 1997 offers a link between changes in historic climate and the collapse of Andean civilizations. Muller, et al. 2011 discusses land-use change associated with mechanized agriculture and forest conversion in Bolivia.

  • Binford, Michael W., Alan L. Kolata, Mark Brenner, et al. “Climate Variation and the Rise and Fall of an Andean Civilization.” Quaternary Research 47 (1997): 235–248.

    DOI: 10.1006/qres.1997.1882Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Archaeological evidence demonstrates that the emergence of agriculture and subsequent agricultural and cultural collapse coincided with periods of abrupt climate change in the Bolivian-Peruvian altiplano c. 1500 BCE.

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  • Caldas, Marcellus, Robert Walker, Eugenio Arima, Stephen Perz, Stephen Aldrich, and Cynthia Simmons. “Theorizing Land Cover and Land Use Change: The Peasant Economy of Amazonian Deforestation.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97.1 (2007): 86–110.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.2007.00525.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses local-scale (property owner) survey-based data along with remotely sensed imagery to assess the impact of household structure and economic circumstances to try to predict deforestation processes.

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  • Giovana, M. de Espindola, Ana Paula D. de Aguiar, Edzer Pebesma, Gilberto Camara, and Leila Fonseca. “Agricultural Land Use Dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon Based on Remote Sensing and Census Data.” Applied Geography 32 (2012): 240–252.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2011.04.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Assesses the role of socioeconomic variables in determining trends in forest-to-agriculture land conversions in three states in the Brazilian Amazon from 1997 to 2007. Results are to be used to augment climate change/greenhouse gas emission models to help better assess how much deforestation is taking place.

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  • Klepeis, Peter, and Colin Vance. “Neoliberal Policy and Deforestation in Southeastern Mexico: An Assessment of the PROCAMPO Program.” Economic Geography 79.3 (2003): 221–240.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1944-8287.2003.tb00210.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses farm-household data from 1986 to 1997 to assess the impact of PROCAMPO (a neoliberal Mexican rural support program) on land-use change in southeastern Mexico. Results show that such policies have led to increased deforestation and only a small increase in market production. Stresses the unintended consequences of macro-scale government policies.

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  • Lopez, Santiago, and Rodrigo Sierra. “Agricultural Change in the Pastaza River Basin: A Spatially Explicit Model of Native Amazonian Cultivation.” Applied Geography 30 (2010): 355–369.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2009.10.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper offers a spatial perspective to investigate land use in western Amazonia, specifically agricultural land uses. Results show that agricultural land-use probability increases with proximity to populations where other agricultural activities are already taking place.

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  • Muller, Robert, Daniel Muller, Florian Schierhorn, and Gerhard Gerold. “Spatiotemporal Modeling of the Expansion of Mechanized Agriculture in the Bolivian Lowland Forests.” Applied Geography 31 (2011): 631–640.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2010.11.018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Maps the expansion (spatially and temporally) of mechanized soya or soybean agriculture in eastern Bolivia to help better model future deforestation trends in areas yet to be disturbed. Trends suggest agricultural conversion into areas with increasing rainfall amounts and poorer soil quality.

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  • Smith, Derek A., Peter H. Herlihy, John H. Kelly, and Aida Ramos Viera. “The Certification and Privatization of Indigenous Lands in Mexico.” Journal of Latin American Geography 8.2 (2009): 175–207.

    DOI: 10.1353/lag.0.0060Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses Mexico’s land certification program (PROCEDE), through which once-communal lands have become privatized. Though PROCEDE has produced a much more precise inventory of Mexico’s agricultural land base, there are concerns that privatization may lead to an erosion of community institutions, increased social differentiation, and threats to other surrounding land uses and overall cultural survival.

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LAST MODIFIED: 02/26/2013

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199874002-0060

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