7. Agriculture


Population rise and extra food production forecast: this graphic is from http://www.fao.com

Click on the above image to read the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Five Principles of Sustainable Food and Agriculture. Scroll over the image to learn more about the five principles.

Unit 7 in New Wider World: Farming

Your book titles this topic “Farming”, but I prefer that we call this theme Agriculture, as we need to look at it on a much wider level than farming.  For example, agricultural policy, markets and food production, crop innovations, rural devlopment in MEDCs and LEDCs, climate change, and social aspects of agricultural communities, take the topic well beyond simply “farming.”

It is important to understand that GCSE study of agriculture assumes knowledge of the two agricultural revolutions: the Neolithic Age transition from hunter-gatherer communities to a settled agricultural economy; and the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions that took place between 1700 – 1900.  If you have been in the British education system, these will have been covered in Key Stage 3 in both Geography and History.

Because there are some students who have not experienced the British curriculum, arriving in GCSE Geography by other routes, I start the teaching of this topic with a thorough two-lesson review of this background.  Here is the PPT file used for the introduction to the topic: intro-to-agriculture

Von Thünen’s theoretical land use model PPT.  As I said, you do not need to learn the model, but this informs your understanding of the way farmers were using mathematical and scientific knowledge in the 19th century to increase their production and their profitability.

Factors affecting agricultural production, natural and human. inputs, outputs and processes PPT.

Further study

After the introduction to the topic, the rest of this unit consists of exemplar material, in other words looking at examples of different types of farming and the factors affecting farming in the modern world.  The book supplies extensive coverage of the UK, as well as a wide variety of agricultural regions in other parts of the world.  You need to get to know a variety of case studies in order to answer questions on MEDC and LEDC agriculture, so the case studies must be explored and notes made of all key points, including main vocabulary where terms are explained.

Farming in the UK

Pages 98-101 set out  the general main types of farming in the UK then examines pastoral and arable farming in two locations.  Understanding of the two types of farming is well explained and illustrated with clear land-use diagrams.  You need to be clear on the basic inputs, processes and outputs for these two types of farming in a typical MEDC.  Further explanation of farming in the UK is developed on pages 106-109 where the UK is examined within the context of the European Union, and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is explained.  Of course, the effects of the reversal of all this following Brexit will be a question for the future, and for the moment we will assume that any questions requiring case study material will still rely on your understanding of the present arrangements. There is some useful reading here on the effects of farming on the environment and genetically modified crops (GM).  Please bear in mind that issues like these can form the basis of the longer exam questions on agriculture, and you need to know the main arguments and have a view on the matter!.

Farming in LEDCs

There are examples and case studies of a wide range of agriculture in LEDCs, ranging from tropical agriculture (pages 102-103) to the traditional farming of the ancient Nile valley, a place associated with the first agricultural revolution, as we explored it in the first lesson: the Fertile Crescent in Mesopotamia and the Egyptian river agriculture gave rise to the first cities and the development of the early civilised world.  The change from subsistence farming to cash crops in Kenya is explored on page 104 (flowers for export) and this should be studied in full, as it is an important transition taking place in many countries.  Finally there is a fully developed case study of rice farming in the Lower Ganges Valley on pages 112-113, again giving you an opportunity to focus on the inputs, processes and outputs of a particular place, in both physical and human forms.

Page 114 Checklist of key terms and ideas

With the wide ranging case study material, you need to use this checklist to ensure you have your key ideas and terms in place and you can relate them to the MEDC and LEDC example material you have read about.

And more!

The BBC Bitesize revision guide on this topic provides plenty more including development of some of the case study material above.