Which natural factors influence agriculture?

How do the natural boundaries of agriculture in the different zones of the earth influence the form of cultivation by humans?

Table of Contents

1. Introduction and question

2. The natural limits of agriculture
2.1 The natural limits of agriculture with regard to livestock husbandry
2.2 The natural limits of agriculture with regard to crops

3. The natural limits of agriculture in relation to the type of agricultural use in the different zones of the earth

4. Summary of the results

5. Bibliography

1. Introduction and question

Within the topic of the natural limits of agriculture, this housework deals with the question of how the natural limits of agriculture in the various regions of the earth are related to the local cultivation by humans, or respectively require appropriate cultivation.

In the first part of the thesis it is explained which natural limits of agriculture exist with regard to the keeping of livestock and the cultivation of crops. The second part looks specifically at how humans approach the respective agricultural use potentials in the various zones of the earth. Especially in parts of the world where the conditions for agriculture are rather unfavorable, it is necessary for people to use methods which, through their local adaptation, nevertheless create acceptable yields and food.

2. The natural limits of agriculture

Since agriculture encompasses both the cultivation of the soil and animal husbandry for the purpose of producing food or feed (LESER 2001: 455), livestock and crops are the focus of consideration of the natural limits of agriculture. In the following, therefore, livestock and then crops are treated separately.

2.1 The natural limits of agriculture with regard to livestock husbandry

In principle, livestock farming is possible wherever there is a vegetation cover. Even in climatically and edaphically marginal zones, livestock farming is possible if the individual requirements of the animals are taken into account. There are clear differences here in terms of animal drought tolerance. Sheep or goats need water at least every two days, while camels can do without water for up to seven days. The degree of animal tolerance to heat or cold is even more variable. There are both animals that can be kept in cold climates, for example yaks or llamas, and animals that prefer dry climates such as water buffalo or zebra cattle (SPIELMANN 1989: 81, 84). Another limiting factor in livestock farming are diseases and pests, which are preferred in certain areas. In large parts of Africa it is difficult to keep livestock because the environmental conditions in the corresponding areas offer a suitable habitat for the larvae of the tsetse fly, and trypanosomiasis (nagana in animals, known as sleeping sickness in humans) is transmitted through them. However, there are also certain animal races that have developed immunity against it, i.e. have adapted to the living conditions there (SPIELMANN 1989: 86).

2.2 The natural limits of agriculture with regard to crops

Every plant needs a certain amount of light, heat, water, carbon dioxide, oxygen, nutrient salts and a growth medium. Furthermore, the pH value must be within a certain range. In nature, however, it is mainly the lack of warmth and the lack of water (see Fig. 2) that does not allow land management in all areas of the world. In geography, for example, one speaks of heat deficiency limits and water deficiency limits. Polar boundaries (see Fig. 1) and altitude boundaries represent heat deficiency boundaries, while water deficiency boundaries are referred to as dry boundaries.

Polar borders:

At the polar borders, as written, a heat deficit is the primary minimizing factor. Every plant has individual requirements for minimum temperatures over a certain period of time in order not only to survive, but also to reach maturity. Furthermore, there is still the risk of early or late frost.

Height limits:

Altitude limits are also primarily the limits of lack of heat. However, they are only fragmentary and only limit globally in a relatively small area. However, they can be modified considerably by the type of rock, soil, slope, exposure to the sun and the main wind direction. In addition, there may be other risk factors such as avalanches, mudslides, landslides, increased risk of erosion and sudden weather changes.

Dry limits:

In the case of the dry limits as water scarcity limits, the pure precipitation values ​​are not necessarily meaningful. The distribution of precipitation over the year is crucial, because an excess supply of water in the rainy season and a long dry season afterwards are logically less favorable in arable farming than regular precipitation spread over the whole year. Furthermore, it remains to be said that in the border area the storage capacity of the soil for water can also have a limiting effect (ARNOLD 1997: 129ff).

other factors:

Soils and relief play a less significant role under the natural limits of agriculture. Here too, every plant has different requirements for nutrient content, pH value, depth, texture and aeration of soils, tolerance to waterlogging, salinity, alkalinity and compaction. With regard to the relief, larger slopes make cultivation more difficult or no longer allow normal arable farming. In addition, the risk of erosion increases with the slope (SPIELMANN 1989: 84f) (see Fig. 1 and Fig. 2).

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