An Introduction to Agricultural Geography


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More Info. Ploughing a New Furrow. Collins Food for Free. Pesticide Application Methods. Microclimate: The Biological Environment. Below Ground Interactions in Tropical Agroecosystems. Bush Tukka Guide. Trees, Forested Landscapes and Grazing Animals. Dirt to Soil. Beekeeping Study Notes. The Extraordinary Story of the Apple. Blackberries and Their Hybrids. Other titles from Routledge. International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education. The Future of Natural History Museums. An Environmental History of the Middle Ages. Principles of Horticulture: Level 2. Handbook of Soil Sciences 2-Volume Set.

Citizen Science for Coastal and Marine Conservation. Companion to Environmental Studies. Late Quaternary Environmental Change. Bassett's Environmental Health Procedures. Drivers of Environmental Change in Uplands. For example, the rice region differs from the bajra bulrush-millet region in India. There may be geoclimatic, pedological and socioeconomic reasons for the cultiva- tion of these crops into different parts of the country.

An agricultural geographer can identify the underlying causes of such variations. He also attempts some explanation of how they came into being. The main focus of this definition is on the point that over the period of last over years, man by his deeds has trans- Nature of Agricultural Geography 19 formed the natural vegetation. He has modified the natural ecosys- tems into agricultural ecosystems.

The agricultural geographers with the help of some indicators can divide the earth surface into different, agricultural types or systems Subsequently, these systems need to be described, analyzed and explained. According to Coppock , in agricultural geography agri- cultural facts are arranged in an orderly manner. He emphasized that the main task of an agricultural geographer is to collect data for the testing of hypothesis and to provide adequate explanation for the spa- tial distribution of agricultural activities.

Coppock, in his definition, has given adequate emphasis on the purpose of agricultural geogra- phy and the methodology to be adopted for the formulation of agri- cultural models, paradigms, theories and generalizations, 7. Agricultural geography has also been defined as the science which deals with the regional or spatial variations in the distribu- tion of agricultural entities and to explain the causes of such vari- ations.

In the opinion of others, agricultural geography refers to the field of study focused on the location of agricultural activities at the local, regional, national and world scales. Some scholars opine that agricultural geography is the science of rela- tionship between the physical environment and the forms of agrar- ian life. These definitions clearly show that the geographers differ much in their opinions about the definition of agricultural geography.

In fact, like all the other disciplines of knowledge, the definition of this subbranch of geography is also changing in space and time. Whatso- ever the differences in the definitions may be, the subject matter of agricultural geography is the plants and animal husbandry. It would be of great interest to know the nature, methodology and approaches to agricultural geography A brief description of these aspects of the discipline has been given in the following paras. I Place of Agricultural Geography Agricultural Geography : A Historical Perspective The growth and development of agricultural geography is as old as the other accounts of geography.

The Greek, Roman, Arab, Chinese and Indian geographers gave references of the agricultural activities, cropping patterns and variations in the dominant crops in the differ- ent parts of the then known world. One may find isolated ac- counts of agricultural products in some writings of the medieval pe- riod. The first book on agricultural geography was written by Arthor Young. His monumental work Environment and Cropping Patterns in England was published in In his work Young attempted to establish a relationship between environment and agricultural phe- nomena.

In his opinion, temperature, rainfall and soils are the major Nature of Agricultural Geography 23 determinants of cropping patterns of a region. He adopted an inductive ap- proach and established that the spread of cultivation in the forest ar- eas of Cuba is the main cause of decrease in rainfall. Schwenz, an- other German geographer and a contemporary of Humboldt, was in- fluenced by Arthor Young. He gave the first account of spatial distri- bution of crops in Germany in his book Environment and Cropping Patterns m Germany. Schwenz was essentially an environmental de- terminist who generalized that agricultural activities and cropping patterns are largely controlled by the prevailing temperature and amount of rainfall received in a region.

He propounded the agricul- tural land use model in He pro- duced a statement of the land use pattern to be expected in his con- temporary agricultural environment. For about one hundred years after von Thunen there was not much progress in agricultural geography except the contribution of Engelbrecht who prepared crop regions of North America. The geographers of nineteenth century concentrated more on the di- chotomy of physical versus human geography.

It was when Krzmowski attempted the scientific basis of agricultural geography and produced his scholarly work Scientific Position of Agricultural Geography. The first attempt of agricultural regionalization of Europe was made by Jonasson in 1 in his work Agricultural Re- gions of Europe. Baker, one of the leading American geographers. Agricultural Regions of North America in On the ba- sis of areal strength Baker divided America into wheat, maize, cot- ton, etc.

Similarly, Taylor de- lineated agricultural regions of Australia in Another American geographer Valkenberg divided Asia into agricultural regions in It was Derwent Whittlesey who delineated the Major Agricul- 24 Nature of Agricultural Geography twal Regions of the Earth in Since Whittlesey's essay was published, there has been much discussion of the problems of agri- cultural typology and the allied problems of regionalization. Table l. Singh J. Weaver applied an objective criterion in the delineation of Crop Combinalion in Middle West in In , the International Geographical Union IGU set up a Commission on Agricultural Typology, which has tried to establish uniform criteria by which farms should be classi- fied, and to persuade the individual geographers to use these criteria in their works on different parts of the world.

Kostrowicki, in , published his leading essay Agricultural Typology of the World. The Agricultural Systems of the World. An Evolutionary Approach was published by D. Grigg in This book describes the chief char- acteristics of the major agricultural systems of the world and at- tempts some explanation of how they came into being While de- scribing and explaining the agricultural sy. Morgan and Munton published Agricultural Geography in to cater to the need of graduate ge- ography students. The Agricultural Geography by Husain has been widely accepted as textbook for higher level.

The Agricultural Geography written by Singh and Dhillon is a useful textbook which has been prescribed in most of the Indian universities. Agricultural geographers, before the s, had been almost ob- sessively preoccupied with explanations for distribution patterns de- rived from study of physical environment alone Related studies of spatial science and economics were largely ignored. Prior to the Sec- ond World War there was scarcity of reliable agricultural data, espe- cially on the developing countries.

In Tasbir Singh published An Agricultural At- las of Haryana in which he probed the physical, economic and cul- tural variables as the bases of farming and identified some ecological problems arising out of the existing land use practices Inspired by Shafi and Singh the younger generation of Indian geographers has been making u. Modem agricultural geography in which physical, sociocultural, eco- 26 Nature of Agricultural Geography nomic, institutional and infrastructural factors are taken into consid- eration for the description and explanation of agricultural phenomena is mainly a product of the post-Second World War period.

For the in- terpretation of agricultural mosaic geographers are concentrating on the collection, processing and tabulation of primary and secondary data. The data thus processed is plotted on maps before their geo- graphical interpretation is made. By applying sophisticated statistical and cartographic techniques, geographers are now increasingly con- centrating on paradigms and models building for generalization and deduction In other words, there is more emphasis now on model building which is proving fruitful in the explanation of land use pat- terns and other agricultural phenomena.

In order to understana the modem agricultural geography and its utility in the process of agricultural development planning it is im- perative to discuss briefly the various methodologies adopted by ge- ographers to examine the agricultural phenomena. Approaches to Agricultural Geography A legion of literature has been produced about the nature, methodol- ogy and approaches of agricultural geography. If one reviews tlie mounting literature on agricultural geography, two major approaches to the subject matter can be detected Ilbery, : Empirical Inductive Approach The empirical approach attempts to describe what actually exists in the agricultural landscape.

An Agricultural Geography of Great Britain

For example, for the delineation of crop combinations of a given region, crop land use data is gathered from the farms and villages over a period of time. This data is processed and plotted on maps and then an explanation of the combinations is made which ultimately lead to generalization and model building. Nature of Agricultural Geography 27 Normative Deductive Approach The normative or deductive approach is more conoemed with what the agricultural landscape should be like, given a certain set of as- sumptions.

This approach leads to the derivation and testing of hy- potheses and, theoretically, to the development of an ideal model of agricultural location. The model of von Thunen in which several as- sumptions, like isomorphic surface, economic farmer, isolated state, etc. These two approaches have never really merged, reflecting both the complexities of the decision making process in agriculture and the different times at which each has been popular within geography. It is essentially from the normative deductive approach that models of agricultural location have emerged and once again model makers have operated along one of two lines, with the later developing out of dissatisfaction with the former.

In such models, optimal land use patterns rest on the assumptions of i rationality of the farmer, ii complete knowledge, and iii an equal ability to use this knowledge. Such assumptions and requirements are unobtainable in reality and the approach has been criticized as unrealistic. In fact, there will be hardly any farmer who may be knowing about the weather especially precipitation that will prevail during the growing season of a crop or the full informa- tion about the quality of seeds and the demand of the produce.

Con- sequently, this model fails to explain the ground reality of agricul- tural activities. It has been rightly said that farmers cannot make per- fect economic decisions, except by chance, and instead react to per- ceived conditions within an environment of uncertainty. These models include such items 28 Nature of Agricultural Geography as fanner's desire for leisure, a satisfactory income, at the expense of profit maximization.

This approach developed out of two classic geo- graphical studies by Wolpert I in an analysis of Swedish farm- ing and Harvey in an early review of theoretical development in agricultural geography, and led to the new behavioural element in the methodology of the subject. Agricultural Processes and Phenomena; Modes of Explanation As with normative and empirical approaches, there is a noticeable gap between these two groups of models and it would appear that even satisficer models are failing to explain tlie observed agricultural phenomena adequately.

Despite these different approaches and the many methods available to the geographer, theoretical developments in agricultural geography have been slow. Indeed, it could be sug- gested that little real theoretical progress has been made since the pioneering work of von Thunen However, different modes of explanation have been adopted by geographers to explain the agricul- tural processes and phenomena over the earth surface.

These modes of explanation are as under : 1. Environmental or determ inistic approach 2. Commodity approach 3. Economic approach 4. Regional approach 5. Systematic approach 6 System analysis approach 7. Ecological approach 8 Behavioural approach 9. Humanistic approach Environmental or Determinislic Approach The view that the environment controls the course of human action is known as deterministic approach.

The protagonists of this approach assume that elements of physical environment terrain, slope, tem- perature, precipitation, drainage, soil, fauna and flora act in a deter- ministic manner and control the cultivation of crops and all the deci- Nature of Agricultural Geography 29 sion making processes of the farmers about agricultural activities. It is a belief that variation in agricultural decision making around the world can be explained by differences in the physical environments.

The essence of determinism is that the history, society, culture, econ- omy, agriculture and geopolitics are exclusively controlled by the physical environment. It has been advocated by the environmental determinists that the characters of all vegetation, plants and animals including man are the products of temperature, moisture and prevailing weather and geocli- matic conditions. It has been proved by the ecologists and agricul- tural scientists that every plant has a specific zero below which it cannot survive.

There is also an optimum temperature in which the plant is at the greatest vigour. For each of the functions of vegetation like germination, foliation, blossoming or fructification a specific zero and optimum can be observed in temperature. The environ- mental determinists thus argued Klages, that for any crop there arc minimum requirements of moisture and temperature with- out which the crop will not grow. The cultivation of wheat in India may bo taken as an example to explain this point.

The ideal physical conditions for wheat crop are found in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. In the north of Punjab, the winters are severe in Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir val- ley, in the south, the state of Rajasthan is arid with a high rate of evaporation, while east and. Despite biotechnological advancements, most of the crops can- not be grown economically if the appropriate temperature conditions are not available. Since temperature is the major determinant in the distribution of crops, it is evident that their growth is essentially dependent on the total amount of insolation received during the life span of the crop.

It is because of this factor that maize harvests within 80 days in the Sut- leJ-Ganga Plain and matures in about 1 10 days in Mussoorie, Shirala, Chamba, Bhadanvah and Kashmir hills. Consequently, it is purely a fodder crop there. The rainfall regime and availability of moisture also influence the decision making process of the farmers about a crop to be sown.

There are xerophilous tolerant to drought and hygrophytes needing more moisture crops It is because of this property of the plants that the crops which perform well in the wet climatic areas cannot be grown successfully in the arid and semiarid areas unless adequate ar- rangements for artificial irrigation to the crop are made. The districts of Amritsar, Faridkot and Firozpur in Punjab, and Ganganagar and Bikaner in Rajasthan, which receive less than 50 cm rainfall, have become the important producers of rice.

In fact, rice performs well only if the average annual rainfall is over cm. The farmers of these districts grow rice with the help of canal and tubewell irriga- tion.


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The excessive irrigation in Punjab, Haryana and the Indira Gandhi Canal catchment area of Rajasthan has affected adversely tlie soils which are becoming waterlogged, saline and alkaline. The un- derground watertable has been lowered and the farmers often com- plain that the soils are becoming increasingly hungry, needing more chemical fertilizers eveiy year. Many of the waterlogged and saline and alkaline patches have lost their resilience characteristics.

Out of the physical determinants the impact of soils is also quite significant. The performance and yield of each crop varies with the variations in th.. For exam- Nature of Agricultural Geography 31 rice performs better in the clayey soil while wheat and sugarcane juire well drained alluvial soil. Saffron, a leading condiment, can- t be grown out of the karewas of Kashmir and Bhadarwah velleys fcK. Although the influence of physical elements is being inoreas- r y modified through improved technology, HYV, irrigation, fertil- irs and insecticides, yet the natural environment puts a limit be- nd which a crop cannot be grown successfully.

The main weakness of this approach is that it is ertly simplistic as it ignores the cultural factors and their influence agricultural activities. Moreover, similar geographical locations jy not necessarily result into similar cropping patterns. For exam- 3, the Manchuria province of China and New England region of the lited States have almost similar locations and almost identical cli- itic conditions, yet their agricultural typologies differ from each ler. Man with his technological advancement has successfiilly dif- jed crops in new areas away from their traditional regions.

Rice, a 3p of wet regions of India Assam, West Bengal, etc. Similarly, wheat has been diffused in some of 3 districts of Maharashtra.

Introduction to Agricultural Geography - ppt download

Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and West ingal. These illustrations clearly show that man is an active agent the ecosystem and has enormous capacity of transformation of ag- ultural landscape. He is growing several crops even in the harsh d adverse physical environmental conditions. In brief, it may be said that elements of environment put a limit the cropping patterns and land use practices but farmers equipped th modem technology are almost free in their decision making out the crops to be sown.

The influence of environment may be ormous in the regions of extreme climates equatorial, hot deserts , impact on the agriculture of developed societies is however, quite significant. It fo- cuses on the point that any phenomenon of agriculture should be ex- amined and explained in totality and not in parts to ascertain the ground reality about the decision making process of the farmers. The main objective of the commodity approach is to make an indepth analysis of a particular phenomenon, say a crop. The approach may be explained with the help of an example.

Suppose the geography of tea is to be discussed with commodity approach. In such study an at- tempt will be made to examine the environmental conditions tem- perature, moisture, soil, tillage, etc. Sub- sequently, the areal distribution, concentration, production, produc- tivity, marketing, processing, distribution and consumption have to be discussed and explained. The commodity approach is a colonial legacy. During the second half of the nineteenth century and up to the "First "World "War a num- ber of monographs were produced in Europe about the geography of rubber, tea, coffee, cotton, jute, hemp, sugarcane and spices.

The fo- cus of this approach remained to identify the regions which are more efficient in the production of certain crops. In India. Sandhu produced a monumental work based on the commodity ap- proach in the form of Geography of Sugarcane Cultivation in East- ern Haryana. This book gives a vivid description of the prevailing physical environmental conditions in the region and the cultural mi- lieu of the area. The area under sugarcane, its yield per unit area, total production, marketing and processing have also been systematically examined Though commodity approach provides useful information about the geoclimatic requirements of individual crops, it does not take into consideration the behavioural aspects of the farmcrsiin their decision making process.

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The normative questions, such as values, motives, attitudes and beliefs of the farmers are ignored. Any study made with this approach gives only a parochial picture of geographical reality of an agricultural phenomenon. Economic Approach The economic approach developed as a categorical rejection of the Nature of Agricultural Geography 33 environmental deterministic approach.

It is also assumed that the economic factors of market, production, transport and distribution costs operate on a group of homogeneous producers, who in turn react to them in a ra- tional manner. The protagonists of economic approach advocate that the rela- tionships between physical environment and farmers are neither sim- ple nor constant Sayer, These relationships are governed by social and historical processes.

The economic base or mode of pro- duction is seen as the key to understanding the complex web of inter- connections involving the institutions, patterns of behaviour, beliefs, etc. The farmers consciously discard one crop and adopt a new one to optimize their profits. The higher agricultural re- turns as a result of new cropping pattern change the material and technological base of the farmers. In brief, this approach stresses on economic determinism which has been quite popular in the writings of geographers of the developed and socialist countries.

In India, a tangible change has occurred in the cropping patterns during the last three decades. For example, the cultivation of rice has become quite important in the relatively less rainfall recording areas of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan Ganganagar district while wheat has been diffused from Punjab up to Dimapur Nagaland in the east, Maharashtra and Karnataka in the south and Suru, Dras and Shyok valleys of Ladakh in the north.

The cultivation of grapes in Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara districts of Maharashtra, pomegranates in the Talengana region of Andhra Pradesh, keenu orchards in Firozpur, Amritsar, Kapurthala and Gurdaspur districts of Punjab, the mint cul- tivation in Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh, soyabean in the Malwa plateau of Madhya Pradesh and sunflower cultivation m the Sutlej-Ganga Plain have been diffused only during the last three dec- ades.

In fact, the cropping patterns and crop rotations in the greater parts of the Sutlej-Ganga Plain are no longer static The traditional rotation of crops has been discarded and the fallowing of land for the 34 Nature of Agricultural Geography recuperation of soil fertilit ' has been given up. These changes in ag- ricultural mosaics of India are the results of farmers rationality and their desire to optimize their benefits by producing more per unit area. The economic approach has also been criticized on several counts. The main objections raised are against its assumptions of ra- tionality of the farmers and their full knowledge of the environment, technology and forces of market.

In reality, man docs not behave al- ways as an economic person. Many of the decisions are constrained by the availability of workforce, capital and costly inputs Despite fertile soil and suitable weather conditions some of the small farmers do not go for the cultivation of potatoes, vegetables and rice as these are labour intensive. Sometimes the disposal, marketing and storage facilities come in the way of adoption of a new crop. The farmers of Punjab and Haryana are not much interested in the cultivation of vegetables and fruits as the processing industries are very few and these are highly perishable commodities.

The growers of these crops in areas of low rainfall argue that in the absence of elaborate marketing mechanism, rice and wheat they are more profitable as can be stored easily. The assumption of full knowledge of tlie farmer about weather, inputs and market has also been criticized. In fact, the farmers of any part of the world are not in a position to acquire the full knowledge of the physical weather etc. In develop- ing countries like India, agriculture is not even today adequately pro- tected from the vagaries of monsoon.

It is still, to a large extent a gamble in the monsoons. Crops failure occurs at an interval of three to five years with monotonic regularity. In certain parts of the coun- try Rajasthan, Marathwada, Assam, Bihar agriculture is almost an- nually vulnerable to natural havocs like drought and floods. The un- certainty factor has deprived farmers of confidence in their better fu- ture.

Thus, the farmers of the developing countries are generally not economic rational persons. To them agriculture is not a business but a way of life, a mode of living and this philosophy guides their deci- sion making process about cultivation of crops and allied activities. For example, the delineation of crop concentration, crop combination, and agricultural productivity regions helps in understanding the at- tributes of agricultural of the given region and explains the decision making process of the farmers.

An indepth understanding of such re- gions also helps in generalization and the formulation of sound strategies for agricultural planning and development. This approach goes a long way in removing the regional inequalities in the levels of production of different crops. It was Varenius who divided the discipline of geography into general systematic and particular regional geography. The systematic approach is concerned with the formulation of general laws, theories and generic concepts. It is in contrast to re- gional geography in which models are designed with the help of cer- tain assumptions.

In this approach an agricultural phenomenon crop etc. The spatial distribution of wheat or rice in the different continents and the explanation of its concentration in certain areas of the world is an example of systematic approach. The systematic and regional approaches to agricultural geography are however not op- posed but complementary to each other. System Analysis Approach The system analysis approach was adopted by Ludwig in bio- logical sciences. According to James, a system may be defined as a unit a person, an agriculture, an industry, a business, a state, etc.

A system consists of a set of entities with specifications of the relationship between them and their environment. Agricultural geography deals with the complex relationships of physical environment, cultural milieu, and the agricultural phenom- ena. System analysis approach provides a framework to examine and explain the agricultural activities at the field, village, local, regional. Nature of Agricultural Geography 37 national and global levels. The complex entities and mosaic of agri- cultural activities can be understood with the help of this approach.

It was because of this advantage that Berry and Chorley suggested sys- tem analysis as a vital tool for geographical understanding. Each agricultural system has several elements tenure, tillage, ir- rigation, biochemical, infrastructural and marlceting. These elements have their reciproeal effect on each other. The behaviour of a system, therefore, has to do with flows, stimuli, and responses, inputs and outputs and alikes.

The internal behaviour of a system and its trans- actions with environment can be examined. A study of the former amounts to a study of functional laws that connect behaviour in vari- ous parts of the system. Consider a system that has one or more of its elements related to some aspects of the environment.

Suppose the en- vironment goes under change e. It will lead to a chain reaction in the system and both the ecology and society will be transformed. This constitutes a simple stimulus re- sponse or input-output system. This behaviour is described by the equations deterministic or possibilistic that connect the input with Figure 1. A system in which one or more of the functionally important variables are spatial, may be described as geographical system.

In the existing complex agricultural situation of the world an in- put-output ratio is to be determined by taking into consideration the relevant indicators from within and outside of the system. For exam- ple, agricultural productivity in a region is the function of geocli- matic, sociocultural and economic factors.

Agricultural Geography

The interrelationships be- tween these determinants and their influence on the agricultural pro- ductivity can be understood by system analysis with the help of cor- relation and multivariate regression. For example, only by analyzing irrigation system, biochemical fertilizers system, and marketing and storage systems, etc.

System analysis has been criticized on the ground that it is intrin- sically associated with empiricism and positivism Husain, The normative questions like values, beliefs, attitudes, desires, hopes, fears, aesthetics, etc. Consequently, it gives only a partial and less reliable picture of the geographical reality. Ecological Approach Ecological approach deals with the interrelationships of plants and animals including man with each other as well as with the elements of their nonliving environment This approach focuses on the interre- latedness of the biotic and abiotic environment and takes ecosystem as the home of man.

The followers of ecological approach emphasize on the point that similar geoclimatic conditions lead to the similar agricultural activi- ties. With the change in geoclimatic and pedological conditions, a change occurs in plants. Under the changed temperature and mois- ture regimes the plants crops have to struggle for their survival. Those plants which survived were better fitted to the environment than competi- tors. Relatively superior adaptation increase; relatively inferior ones are steadily eliminated. Thus, the main focus of ecologists is on the study of ecological conditions that promote or discourage the indi- vidual organism crop and communities of organisms crops asso- 40 Nature of Agricultural Geography ciation in relation to their habitat.

The domestication of plants, their diffusion pattern and disap- pearance from some of the genecentres may be explained with the help of ecological approach. For example, during the neolithic pe- riod. But this region is no longer the main producer of these crops. The decline in wheat and barley cultivation in Southwest Asia may be explained ecologically. Over the period of last millennium the climate, especially the rainfall regime, has changed. Consequently, some of the plants could not adapt to this change and could not survive. Their place has been taken by other plants w'ho could adjust in the semiarid and arid con- ditions of the region.

In the opinion of ecologists, the fanners adopt the agricultural activities which may adjust well in the existing temperature and rain- fall regimes. Thus, environment influences the decision of farmers and they in turn modify the environment by their agricultural prac- tices. In fact, scientific and technological advancements have made man as the most important factor of environmental change. The role of man farmer is underestimated in this approach. In reality man equipped with advance biotechnological knowledge is doing many practices against the prevailing ecological conditions.

These qualities of human being help him in taking some decisions about agricultural activities which may be against the ecological set- tings and environmental conditions. Behavioural Approach As a reaction to quantification, the behavioural approach has been adopted by some of the geographers to explain the agricultural activi- Nature of Agricultural Geography 41 ties and the decision making process of the farmers at the various levels.

It became more popular after in geography. The essence of behavioural approach is that the way in which farmers behave is mediated by their understanding of the environ- ment in which they live or with which they are confronted with. Be- havioural geographers recognize that man shapes as well as responds to his environment and that man and environment are dynamically interrelated. The behaviouralists argued that environment has a dual charac- ter, i.

In the real world, a farmer takes decision on the basis of his per- Figure 1. The decision making process has been ex- plained in Figure 1. The difference between the perceived and the real environment was vividly made clear by Koffka in an illusion to the medie- val Swiss tale about a winter travel. The landlord who came to the door viewed the stranger with surprise and asked from whence he came? The traveller perceived the lake as a plain and took a decision to travel across the lake as if it were dry- 42 Nature of Agricultural Geography Figure 1.

He would have acted otlienvise had he but known. According to them, agricultural decisions, most of the times, are based on behaviour values and attitudes rather than on the economic benefits. It is also emphasized by the protagonists of behaviouralism that the same environment resource has different meanings to people of different Socio-economic backgrounds and technology.

For example, a tract of fertile land in the Sutlej-Ganga Plain has different meanings for the cultivators of different communities and farmers having dif- ferent sizes of holdings. Living in the same village a lat farmer pre- fers to sow rice and wheat, a Sami goes for vegetable cultivation and a Gujjar and Gada concentrate for the cultivation of cereals, sugar- cane and fodder crops. The same tract of land has different meanings for a small cultivator with plough and a large scale holding farmer who operates with tractor and modem technology. Nature of Agricultural Geography 43 The behavioural approach is a useful one as it helps in under- standing the decision making process of the farmers who arc largely guided by their social values in the decision making process.

There are several weaknesses in this approach also. The main weaknesses of behavioural approach are that it lacks in synthesis of empirical findings, poor communication, inadvertent duplication and conflict- ing terminology. Its terminology and concepts remain loosely de- fined and poorly integrated owing to the unsystematically organized theoretical base. Another weakness of the approach is that most of the data in be- havioural geography is generated in laboratories by doing experi- ments on animals and the results thus obtained are applied directly to human behaviour.

Moreover, in the absence of general theories and models the be- havioural approach been considered as merely descriptive and not explanatory in nature. As a result agricultural geography becomes like systematic inventory and description. In brief, the general criticism of the behavioural approach is that one can never know for sure whether one has actually succeeded in providing true explanation as the values of individual farmer and farmers community vary in space and time. This allegation seems to be genuine but on a closer examination it loses much of its force as an argument for not taking the approach seriously.

Although one can never know with certainty that a behavioural explanation of agricul- tural phenomena is true, the same objection is applicable to all em- pirical, interpretive and theoretical works. For example, even the theoretical physicist can never be certain of his theories. Indeed, the history of natural science is largely a histoiy of abandoned theories. Yet progress has been made, because with the failure of old theories, new more powerful ones have emerged In social sciences a behav- iouralistic interpretation will also be challenged in terms of new evi- dence and new argument.

References Baker, O. Economics, 19 Harvey, D W. Hillman, R. Kostrowicki, J. Reed, L. Symon, L. Whittlesey, D. Man made snail speed progress during the early stages of history as the environment, he existed in, was harsh and he was not materi- ally and technologically equipped to cope with the severity of sur- roundings. In fact, primitive man subsisted by gathering nuts, grains, roots and fruits, and catching animals, birds and fish for meat.

Thus, he learned to harvest before he discovered how to plant. The legends of the beginning of cultivation cover a wide range of speculation, including divine teaching by the gods. Many gods have been worshiped for their power over the weather and over the growth of plant and animal life. When, where and how agricultural developed has been a topic of Considerable research during the last century. There is a unanimity on the point that agriculture has no single, simple origin.

Traditionally, the emergence of agriculture has been regarded as revolutionary, but the evidence from archaeological sites prove that it developed and spread gradually in an evolutionary process. With the increase in population in the sedentary communities there was more demand for food. The development of agriculture was an intensification by man of his food extractive processes from the wild ecosystems. More food could be obtained from a given area of land by encouraging plant and animal species found useful and discouraging others. This provided food for an increased population and gave better opportunity for settled life Durable houses as well as tools such as pestles, mortars and grindstones came into more general use.

Techniques of food storage in pit silos and granaries also grew. Evidences from archaeological sites and radio-carbon dating re- veal that most probably earlier cultivation of crops was started on the foothills of upland areas of easily worked soil and not in the valleys because development of agriculture in the valley implies water con- trol which need more skill and relatively more advance stage of tech- nological development. Sauer , in his hypothesis about the ori- gin and development of agriculture, propounded that : 1.

Agriculture did not originate in communities desperately in short supply of food, but among communities where there was suffi- ciency of food resulting into relative freedom from want and need. The hearths of domestication are to be sought in regions of marked diversity of plants and animals. The primitive agriculture did not origin in the large river valleys, subject to the lengthy floods and requiring protective dams, drainage or irrigation, but in moist hill lands.

The agriculture began in forested lands which had soft soil easy to dig. The pioneers of agriculture had previously required special skills but the hunters would be least inclined towards the domestication of plants. The work- force included store house recorders, work foremen, harvest supervi- sors and labourers Fig. In the early Sumerian dynastic phase BC barley was the main crop, but wheat, flax, dates, apples, plums, grapes and vegeta- bles were also grown. The land used to be ploughed by teams of oxen and the crops were harvested with sickle in the spring Fig.

Figure 2. Irrigation gave more stability to the agrarian- cum-pastoral economy of Egypt. There are ample evidences which suggest that the water of Nile river was carefully controlled and canal distributaries were dug to provide irrigation to the cultivated crops whenever needed.

Description

Apart from Palestine, Canaan, Sumeria and Egypt there are evi- dences which show the development of settled communities living in villages in Anatolia Turkey , Syria, valleys of Tigris and Euphare- tes, and the Zagros mountains of Iraq and Iran. These village com- 54 Origin of Agriculture munities were growing wheat, barley, flax, peas and lentil by BC.

Subsequently, the number of domesticated plants got increased in these areas. Some of the important vegetables like cabbage, leek, lettuce, onion, garlic and beans also liave their origin in the South- west Asian Genecentre According to Zohary , the wild ancestors of most of these early crops exliibited a relatively limited distribution. Wild emmer wheat and chickpea are endemic to Southwest Asia, while wild eink- om wheat, barley, vetch and peas have a wider distribution in the re- gion. Subsequently, these crops were diffused in Europe, and other parts of Asia and 'Morthem Africa.

Tlie earliest farmers of Southwest Asia had reaping knives, sick- les. They probably also had digging sticks and later primitive hoes, made at first from wood and later from stones. The m. In Egypt, water lifting devices such as shaduf, water wheel and carads were started by BC. From here these technological de- velopments spread to the neighbouring areas of tire east and the west. Laos, Combodia. Vietnam Indo-China. Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines Fig.

A large number of plants like rice oryza sativa. Moreover, cu- cumber, eggplant, cowpea also had their origin in this genecentre. According to Zohary and Hopf rice is a southeast Asiatic element but because of the ease with which its wild relatives hybrid- ize, the exact centre of its domestication has not yet been determined.

The earliest finds of rice that can be positively identified as domesti- cated are from sites in India and Pakistan, dated about BP. Origin of Agriculture 55 In the opinion of Sauer, the Southeast Asian Genecentre is one of the oldest genecentres of the world.

The earliest archaeological evi- dence available from the Spirit Cave of Thailand shows that legumes were domesticated in this region around BC Fig. The farming system was found in the valley floors and deltas. From Thai- land it spread towards Malaysian, Indonesian and Polynesian islands. Very little is known about the technology and methods of fanning in the Southeast Asian Genecentre.

It is likely to have been primitive, relaying upon stone axes, digging sticks and fire. Besides vegeculture protection of plants and cultivation of crops, the people of South- east Asia mainly relied on hunting, gathering and fishing for much of their supplies. The China-Japan Genecentre Archaeological information about this genecentre is comparatively scanty. These farmers domesticated soyabean, kaoliang sorghum , millet, com, sweet potatoes, barley, peanuts, fruits and vegetables.

Cotton, tobacco, sugarcane, tea and sericulture silk- worm have been the important cash crops Fig. From the Loess plateau, agriculture spread towards Manchuria, Korea and Japan in the north and towards the Yangtze Kiang valley in the south. There are reasons to believe that in China, most probably, wheat, barley, sheep, goats and cattle were acquired from the Southwest Asia, whilst soyabean, kaoliang, mulbeny and pig were locally domesti- cated Fig.

It is also most likely that the practice of irrigation spread to China from Babylonia. The Chinese are known to have had irrigation before BC. The main implements were digging sticks, hoes, spades and mortars. The plough was also acquired from Southwest Asia For the maintenance of soil fertility a number of practices were adopted in China by BC. The main aim of the farmers was most probably conservation of moisture rather than irrigation. These farmers were doing cul- tivation of crops with the help of irrigation.

They adopted mixed ag- riculture, based on a combination of crops and livestock which char- acterized to that of Mesopotamia. Peas, flax, alfafa, almond, walnut, pistachio, grapes, melons, carrots, onion, garlic, radish, spinach, ber- ries and numerous fiuits were domesticated in this genecentre Fig 2. It also includes the coastal strips of Africa along the Mediterranean Sea. Primarily it is the genecentre of oats, flax, olive, figs, vines, ruta- bagas, lupines, oak, and lavender.

By BC, the crops of the Mediterranean region much of its distinctive crops, e. Vegetables which have their origin in this genecentre are atrichokas, asparagus, cabbage, celery, chicory, olive, cress, endive, leek, lettuce, onion, garlic, parsnip, peas, and beans. The archaeological evi- dences obtained from the site of al-Fayynm Lower Nile Basin show that sheep, goats, and swine and cultivated wheat, barley, cotton and flax were cultivated in this region in BC.

The flax was woven into linen and cotton used for the preparation of cloth. In this dry cli- mate, village silos consisted of pits lined with coiled basketry, and crops were harvested with reaping knives slotted with sharp flints. The farming communities of Egypt started agriculture initially above the flood plains as in the valley of the Nile river regular inundation was the main hindrance. The Egyptian farmers also kept deer, gazelles, sheep, goats and 58 Origin of Agriculture livestock.

The wetter areas were exploited by domesticated ducks and geese. The marshes, swamps, wasteland and stubbles were grazed by numerous herds of cattle black, piebald and white sheep with kempy coarse coats, goats and pigs. The origin of agriculture to the south of Sahara is still a matter of controversy. In Ethiopia and the west coast of Africa, vegeculture most probably developed along the margins of tropical forests and savanna lands where climate was warm and wet.

The major plants domesticated in tropical Africa are Yam indigenous to West Africa , and oil-palm trees. West Africa, in fact, still remains as one of the few areas of the world where root crops form a major part of agricul- tural economy. Tropical Africa is also the primary genecentre of sor- ghum, African rice, castor beans, cotton, water-melon, cowpea, cof- fee, oil-paim, and kolanut.

It is conjectured that in South America, domestication of plants in the from of vegeculture started sometimes between BC and BC. Here, the first domesticated plants of tuberous spe- cies like the manioc, arrowroots, watemuts, sweet pototoes, yautia, sorrel, ulluco, ochira, beans, tuber and squash were vegetatively propagated. These species are rich in starch. Later peanuts, ground- nuts, and pineapple were also domesticated in this genecentre. In Bo- livia, Chile. Equador and Peru, vegetables like limabeans, potato, pumpkin and tomato were domesticated. Axe and digging sticks were the main equipments of the prehistoric farming societies of the South America.

Slash and bum, irrigation, terracing, and the use of llama dung for manure were practised. The guanaco, ancestor of llama and alpaca was domesticated in this region around BC. Nicaragua, El-Salvador and Panama. Available evi- dence seems to indicate that, in spite of the early domestication of some plants, village life did not begin to develop in this region until jSOO BC. The process of agricultural development was, therefore, rather slow, occurring in widely dispersed centres. Corn maize , ca- Origin of Agriculture 59 cao, tomatoes, avocados, potatoes, kidneybean, zapotes, pumpkin and cotton were domesticated in this region It is also the homeland of red pepper, bean, sunflower and tobacco.

In this region, the land was cleared by chopping and burning and the seeds were sown with the aid of fire-hardened digging sticks. Crops were stored in pits or granaries. Apart from the genecentres discussed, some of the experts con- sider the Indus valley as separate genecentre Fig. The most im- portant plant domesticated in the Indian subcontinent was rice oryza sativa , the staple food of South Asia and Southeast Asia. Sugarcane, varieties of legumes and mango are also native to the subcontinent of India. The excavations at Mohenjodaro and Harappa Indus valley , Lothal on the Gulf of Cambay provide adequate evidences which show that the farmers of these regions were using sophisticated agri- Figure 2.

A classification of the plants cultivated in the early parts of human his- tory has been given m Table 2 2 Origin of Agriculture 61 Table 2. The Figure 2. Table 2. To some others stock herding arose from hunting and espe- cially from capture of young animals which were driven off to the rock, enclosed valleys or desert oases where escape was impossible. There is a widespread and understandable idea that hunters killed adult animals, took their young ones to their habitats where children and womenfolk liked to fondle with them rather than kill them.

The propensity of women and children to keep pets has been sug- gested as the most probable spur to domestication. In fact, infant cap- ture is the most direct and efficient mode of taming the wild animals. Darwin observed that primitive peoples in all parts of the world have easily succeeded in taming and rearing wild animals, and this pro- vides an indirect evidence. However, Sauer reports that there are still some tribes in tropical America and Southeast Asia whose women suckle pups.

Iambs, pigs and kids. Domestication of one mammalian form would facilitate the domestication of additional ones with lac- tating animals replacing the human nurse. In this manner, Reed suggests that once sheep and goats had become domesticated, milk would have been available for orphaned calves and colts, thus making the domestication of larger species possible.


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  6. Archaeological data concerning domestication has been limited and difficult to interpret. The available direct and indirect evidences from archaeological sites are limited for a sound generalization. The indirect evidences such as animal dung and ash from fires may occa- sionally shed light on the question of domestication of animals.

    Presumably man recognized that some animals and plants were Figure 2. Origin of Agriculture 6S more useful than others as sources of food. Moreover, it was prefer- able to ensure an adequate proximal food supply rather than have to engage in relatively haphazard foraging hunting. Traditionally, like plants, Southwest Asia has been regarded as the region in which ani- mals were domesticated first in the world. In the opinion of Harlan domestication of animals occurred in other genecentres also at different times in the neolithic period. The oldest animal of domestic status for which there is actual evidence seems to be dog.

    The ancestor of dog was the wolf which originated around BP in Southwest Asia. Contrary to this there are some experts who opine that sheep was the first to be domesticated. The sheep which has descended from the wild sheep ovis orientalis was found in the mountains of Iraq, Iran and Turkey.

    At this sits roughiy 60 per cent of the sheep bones were of yearling. Somewhat later around BP, domestic goat, the descendant from capra-hir- cusaegagrus was also found in the same region. The goat seems to have been the first domestic food animal to have become widespread in Mesopotamia, Eygpt, Africa, Asia and Europe. About BP the domestic pig was introduced at Jarmo Mesopotamia. The appear- ance of domestic cattle as per archaeological evidence occurred around BP at Tepe-Sabz in south Iran and Bananhill in Iraq. At this period ox-homs were in general use at Catal-Huyuk central Tur- key in religious shrines as yet there is no evidence to show that they were obtained from domestic animals Figs.

    The horse appears to have been domesticated in Russia and Cen- tral Asia around BP and fragmentary evidence suggests that it was at about this time that camel was domesticated in Arabia. The ass or donkey appears to have originated in Egypt around BP. The four major food animals together with wheat and barley formed the basic economic complex of the Southwest Asia.

    In about BP, buffalo and chicken were domesticated in South Asia. The rein- deer and yak were tamed in the north and east of Altai Highlands in about BP. The transport animals appear to have been domesti- cated generally later than food animals. Zebu, resembling the ox, was tamed in the Indus valley and Iran around BP. In South Amer- Figure 2. After Harlan , Vavilov 8. Sauer 68 Origin of Agriculture ica, llama, alpaca and guinea pig were tamed, while Turkey bird was domesticated in Mexico and Centra!

    Dogs probably accompanied hunters and helped them in their hunt of wild animals and beasts. There are reasons to believe that dogs also guarded the human settlement and the camping sites and at the same time they were eaten by men. Sheep and goats were also eaten in the initial stages of domestication.

    An Introduction to Agricultural Geography An Introduction to Agricultural Geography
    An Introduction to Agricultural Geography An Introduction to Agricultural Geography
    An Introduction to Agricultural Geography An Introduction to Agricultural Geography
    An Introduction to Agricultural Geography An Introduction to Agricultural Geography
    An Introduction to Agricultural Geography An Introduction to Agricultural Geography
    An Introduction to Agricultural Geography An Introduction to Agricultural Geography
    An Introduction to Agricultural Geography An Introduction to Agricultural Geography
    An Introduction to Agricultural Geography An Introduction to Agricultural Geography
    An Introduction to Agricultural Geography An Introduction to Agricultural Geography

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