CHAPTER 8

PRIMARY ACTIVITIES AGRICULTURE AND RESOURCE EXPLOITATION

 

HUNTING AND GATHERING

Before farming, hunting and gathering were the universal forms of primary production.

 

It is only practiced by very few people now, in very isolated areas. These numbers are declining as contact with more technologically advanced cultures is made.

 

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture – defined as the growing of crops and the tending of livestock – whether for subsistence or commercial reasons, has replaced hunting and gathering as the most significant of the primary economic activities.

 

In developing areas farming is 75-90% of the labor force. In developed areas, it is 10% or less.

•      United States

 

SUBSISTENCE AGRICULTURE

Subsistence Agriculture consists of any agricultural economy in which the crops and/or animals are used nearly exclusively for local or family consumption.

 

In most of Africa, Asia, and much of Latin America, a large percentage of people are primarily involved with feeding themselves from their own land and livestock.

 

SUBSISTENCE AGRICULTURE

Two types of subsistence agriculture are recognized; extensive and intensive.

 

 Although each type has several varieties, the essential contrast between them is yield per unit of area used.

SUBSISTENCE AGRICULTURE

Extensive Subsistence Agriculture involves large areas of land and minimal labor input per acre.

•      Both product per land unit and population densities are low.

Intensive Subsistence Agriculture involves the cultivation of small parcels of land through the expenditure of great amounts of labor per acre.

•      Yields per unit area and population densities are high.

 

NOMADIC HERDING

Nomadic Herding – the wandering, but controlled movement of livestock, solely dependent on natural forage – is the most extensive type of land use system.

 

Sheep and goats are the most common with cattle, horses and yaks locally important. The common characteristics are hardiness, mobility and ability to subsist on sparse forage. These animals provide milk, cheese, meat, hair, wool and skins and dung for fuel.

 

•      Declining in numbers (Russia and The Sahel)

 

 

SHIFTING CULTIVATION

Another form of extensive subsistence agriculture is found in the tropical rainforest areas of the world where people engage in a kind of nomadic farming. This shifting cultivation is called swidden or slash and burn. In these areas of the world, the soils have little ability to hold nutrients because of the large amounts of rain.

The trees and brush are hacked down and burned and these areas are planted with corn, millet, rice, manioc, yams and sugar cane. Then the field is moved to another area and the plot is allowed to re-vegetate.

More and more commercial crops such as coffee are grown as a cash crop.

 

SHIFTING CULTIVATION

Initial yields are high, but drop off as the nutrients are used or washed away.

Productivity is maintained by rotation of plots rather than crops.

Problems include declining soil fertility and population pressures.

Nearly 5% of the world’s population and 1/5 of the world’s land area are predominantly engaged in tropical shifting agriculture.

 

INTENSIVE SUBSISTENCE AGRICULTURE

Intensive Subsistence Agriculture involves the cultivation of small parcels of land through the expenditure of great amounts of labor per acre. Yields per unit area and population densities are high.

The major crops produced are rice, wheat, corn, millet and pulses (peas and beans).

Most of these people live in monsoon areas of Asia and rice is the major crop which under ideal conditions can provide high yields per unit of land.

 

URBAN SUBSISTENCE FARMING

Urban Subsistence Farming is an important part of food production in urban areas of the least developed parts of the world.

 

Positive: more food on marginal land using (recycling) garbage, human wastes.

Negative: environmental/degradation (water supplies) and health problems (spread of disease) from indiscriminant use of fertilizers (human waste) and pesticides/herbicides.

 

THE COST OF TERRITORIAL EXPANSION

Rapidly growing populations have led to more and more intensive, extensive and exhaustive use of land for agriculture.

 

When population pressures dictate land conversion, serious environmental deterioration may result.

•      Tropical rain forests

•      Semi-deserts

 

THE GREEN REVOLUTION

Increased productivity of existing cropland rather than expansion of cultivated area has accounted for most of the growth of food production over the past few decades.

 

The Green Revolution is a shorthand reference to a system of seed and management (fertilizer and pesticide/herbicide) improvements adapted to the needs of intensive agriculture that have brought larger harvests from a given parcel of farmland.

 

THE GREEN REVOLUTION

Between 1965 and 1995, world cereal production rose 90% and over Ύ of the increase was due to increases in yields rather than expansion of cropland.

 

Genetic improvement in rice and wheat has formed the basis of the Green Revolution.

 

 Harvests have risen dramatically.

 

NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF THE GREEN REVOLUTION

Irrigation has mined water and destroyed some soils through salinization.

 

Less genetic diversity.

 

Industrialization of Farming.

 

Very energy intensive.

 

Only the most developed parts of the world can afford this type of agriculture.

 

COMMERCIAL AGRICULTURE

In the most developed areas of the world, agriculture is managed like an industry – the farm place is a factory that must turn out consistent products that can be processed efficiently.

 

INTENSIVE COMMERCIAL AGRICULTURE

Intensive Commercial Agriculture is practiced in areas where large amounts of capital (machinery, fertilizers) and/or labor per unit of land are used with the crops being sold in the market place.

 

Often called truck farms (fruits, vegetables and dairy products).

 

EXTENSIVE COMMERCIAL AGRICULTURE

Extensive Commercial Agriculture is characterized by low amounts of labor (highly mechanized) per unit of land area and is practiced further from markets on less expensive land.

 

 Typified by wheat (grain) farming and livestock raising.

 

MEDITERRANEAN AGRICULTURE

Special circumstances – most often climatic – make some places far from markets intensively developed agricultural regions.

 

Mediterranean Agriculture – grapes, olives, oranges, figs, vegetables – these crops need warm temperatures all year long.

 

Warm temperatures all year – winter rain – summer dry – irrigation.

 

These are some of the most productive regions of the world.

 

 

 

 

 

PLANTATION CROPS

Plantation Crops – specialized crops usually native to the tropics in areas where the climate is conducive to these crops: coffee, sugar, cacao, tobacco, rubber, tea, bananas

 

Plantation crops are not for local consumption and are usually grown near coastlines to export.

 

RESOURCE EXPLOITATION

In addition to agriculture other primary economic activities include fishing, forestry and mining of materials.

 

The development of these primary activities is dependent on the occurrence of these resources (availability), the technology to exploit these resources, and the cultural awareness of their value.

 

RESOURCE EXPLOITATION

There are renewable and non-renewable resources.

Fishing and forestry are gathering industries based on the harvesting of renewable resources. In some cases, this “gathering” can be extractive when the renewable resource cannot recover.

The mining of minerals and mineral fuels is non-renewable.

 

RESOURCE EXPLOITATION

The maximum sustainable yield of a resource is the maximum volume or rate of use that will not impair its ability to be renewed or to maintain the same future productivity.

 

•      Tragedy of the commons.

 

FISHING

Fish provide a significant amount (7%) of protein consumed by the world. Reliance on fish is greatest in developing countries of eastern and southeast Asia, Africa and parts of Latin America.

 

Almost all marine fishing is from the coastal areas. The wetlands, bays, estuaries, provide the nutrients from rivers and the spawning grounds for many species.

 

FISHING

Both over-fishing and pollution have endangered the supply of the traditional and desired food species.

Aquaculture or fish farming is becoming more and more important.

•      Asian rice paddies.

•      Catfish and crawfish (SE U.S.)

•      Shellfish

Fish farming is now about 30% of the world’s fish harvest and is growing every year.

 

FORESTRY

Commercial forests are restricted to two very large global belts.

1.  The middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere

2.  The equatorial zones of Central and South America, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.

 

 

 

FORESTRY

Two major uses of wood:

•      Industrial – paper, construction, furniture, 50% of all industrial wood is harvested in the U.S.

 

•      Fuel – charcoal – heat, cooking; mostly in developing worlds – being depleted at a rate above the maximum sustainable yield.

 

Tropical lowland hardwood is mostly cut down for fuel.

 

MINING

Mineral resources are not distributed evenly across the world. We have exploited the easiest ones.

 

Three types of minerals that are determined by geology: metallic minerals, mineral fuels and non-metallic minerals.

 

METALLIC AND NON-METALLIC MINERALS

Metallic minerals – copper, iron, nickel, zinc, lead, etc. The metals market is highly volatile and is driven by changes and supply and demand.

 

Non-metallic minerals include construction materials, gravel, building stone, gypsum and limestone for cement.

 

MINERAL FUELS

Mineral Fuels are also known are fossil fuels.

 

Coal was the earliest in importance and still is the most plentiful of the mineral fuels. Supply measured in centuries.

 

MINERAL FUELS

Petroleum is the most unevenly distributed of the major resources with 80% of known reserves in 8 countries. 2/3 of the world’s total is in the Arab states of the Middle East.

•       30 to 70 years of known resources.

Natural Gas has been called the nearly perfect energy resource. A highly efficient, versatile fuel that requires little processing and is environmentally benign.

•      50 years of known resources.