AP Human Geography: Agriculture, Food Production, and Rural Land Use

Key Takeaways: Agriculture, Food Production, and Rural Land Use

  1. There were three agricultural revolutions that changed history. The First Agricultural Revolution was the transition from hunting and gathering to planting and sustaining. The Second Agricultural Revolution increased the productivity of farming through mechanization and access to market areas due to better transportation. The Third Agricultural Revolution involved hybridization and genetic engineering of products and the increased use of pesticides and fertilizers.
  2. There are two primary methods of farming in the world. Subsistence farming involves producing agricultural products for use by the farm family. Commercial farming involves the sale of agricultural products off the farm.
  3. Von Thunen’s model of agricultural land use focuses on transportation. The distance and the weight of crops as well as their distance to market affect which ones are grown.
  4. Modern agriculture is becoming more industrialized and more specialized than ever. The loss of the family farm is a direct result of the rise of feedlots and mega-farms used to produce enormous quantities of agricultural commodities.
  5. To compete with agribusiness in the United States, many family farms are turning to sustainable methods of production, organic agriculture, and catering to the local-food movement.
  6. Many of the settlement patterns in the United States have been based on the agricultural possibilities of specific areas.
  7. Many of the world’s crop products are dictated by the climate of the regions where they are grown.

Agriculture, Food Production, and Rural Land Use Key Terms

A Historical Perspective

  • Farming: The methodical cultivation of plants and/or animals.
  • Hunting and gathering: The first way humans obtained food. Nomadic groups around the world depended on migratory animals, wild fruit, berries, and roots for sustenance.
  • Agriculture: The raising of animals or the growing of crops on tended land to obtain food for primary consumption by a farmer’s family or for sale off the farm.
  • First (Neolithic) Agricultural Revolution: The slow change from hunter and gather societies to more agriculturally based ones through the gradual understanding of seeds, watering, and plant care.
  • Growing season: The period of the year when temperature and rainfall allow for successful farming.
  • Plant domestication: The process by which wild plants are cultivated into productive crops, often with more desirable traits.
  • Animal domestication: The process by which wild animals are cultivated into a resource supply for humans, often resulting in physical and behavioral changes (e.g., modern-day dogs having descended from domesticated wolves).
  • Second Agricultural Revolution: Coinciding with the Industrial Revolution, the Second Agricultural Revolution used the increased technology from the Industrial Revolution as a means to increase farm productivity through mechanization. This caused exponential population increase.
  • Third Agricultural (Green) Revolution: This transformation began in the latter half of the twentieth century and corresponded with exponential population growth around the world. Hybridization, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers were key aspects.
  • Environmental modification: The introduction of man-made chemicals and practices that, at times, have drastic effects on native soil and vegetation.
  • Pesticides: Any substance that kills pests, especially insects. Can be natural or artificial in origin. Used on farms to protect the crop yield.
  • Globalized agriculture: A system of agriculture built on economic and regulatory practices that are global in scope and organization.
  • Agribusiness: The mass production of agricultural products; a form of large-scale commercial agriculture.
  • Biotechnology: A precise science that involves altering the DNA of agricultural products to increase productivity, which has been extremely successful for the most part. Biotech is developed mainly in laboratories and is then tested on farm fields worldwide.
  • Genetic engineering: The modification of organisms by directly altering their genetic material.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Plants and animals that have been genetically engineered in some way.
  • Double-cropping: The growing of two crops per growing season to double the harvest. The Green Revolution popularized fast- growing, high-yield rice strains that made double-cropping more viable.
  • Triple-cropping: The growing of three crops per growing season to triple the harvest.
  • Organic farming: Farming that uses natural processes and seeds that are not genetically altered. To be certified as organic in the United States, farmers must demonstrate organic methods on a number of different measures.
  • Fourth Agricultural Revolution: A movement in which food is both grown and sold locally, and fertilizers and pesticides are minimized or eliminated in favor of pure organic farming.

Check out our full Agriculture, Food Production, and Rural Land Use Notes!