Mixed farming Intensive Agriculture

Download 27.53 Kb.
Size27.53 Kb.

  1. Foraging (hunting and gathering)**

  2. Horticulture (slash and burn)**

  3. Mixed farming

  4. Intensive Agriculture **

  5. Plow

  6. Irrigation

  7. Industrial farming

  1. CARRYING CAPACITY - is the upper limit of energy production, under a given level of technology, that limits the number of people who can survive in a given environment. Most populations stabilize in numbers well below the carrying capacity of their land in order to avoid the risk of starvation. When carrying capacity is exceeded, production declines and environmental degradation takes place.

THE POINT OF DEMINISHING RETURNS marks the point at which there is a decline in the yield per unit of effort - where the ratio of energy output to energy input begins to decrease. When this happens, production efforts (labor) goes up relative to the yield (amount produced). Sometimes production may hold steady but people must work harder to obtain the same yield.
OPTIMAL FORAGING THEORY refers to the efficiency of foraging activities and the selective behavior of hunters and gatherers who try to maximize the rate of caloric return for the time they spend foraging.
The theory helps predict which foods will be consumed based on the time and effort required in pursuing a species relative to the caloric return it provides.
The theory also offers an explanation for why many societies are indifferent to certain edible species - they may find it a waste of time to pursue certain foods when others may be energetically more efficient.
states that population growth is limited by the minimum availability of one necessary requirement (e.g., the limiting factor), rather than an abundance of all necessary resources.
This explains why population growth usually adjusts well below the carrying capacity. Extreme shortages threaten life sustaining conditions.
INTENSIFICATION refers to an increase in labor output (using more people, working longer hours, or working faster) without expanding the amount of land used in order to produce greater yields. When this happens, societies respond by changing to a new technology:

use animal or chemical fertilizer

shift to irrigation agriculture to increase yields per unit of labor input.
Simple hunters & gatherers

  1. Year round nomadic lifestyle

  2. Family level organization

  3. Small groups with low pop. density

  4. Simple political organization

  5. !Kung of Africa

  6. Eskimo of Canada

Complex hunters and gatherers

Seasonal nomadic lifestyle

Village level society (dense settlement)

People live in large villages

  1. they disperse in the summer when wild food is


  1. congregate during the winter to live off stored food.

Ranked political organization

  1. Kwakiutl Indians in the Pacific Northwest

ecology - may vary since hunters and gatherers inhabit a wide range of environments (e.g., the Eskimo inhabit the Arctic, the !Kung inhabit the Kalahari desert and the Kwakiutl live along rivers abundant in fish along the northwest Pacific coast). In some cases the climate is not suitable for agriculture; in other cases, agriculture is available yet hunting and gathering is more efficient because of the relative abundance of wild foods.

density - extremely low population density (!Kung are less than one person per ten sq. mi.), except in the case the Kwakiutl who lived in densely populated villages most of the year.

subsistence - mostly wild foods with no food storage, except the Kwakiutl who depend on stored foods.

settlement - migratory year round, moving from camp to camp, except Kwakiutl who are settled in villages and disperse in the summer to gather wild foods. Most have temporary shelters and a minimum of possessions.

defense - no armed conflict, many have trade relations with sedentary groups or else retreat when there is danger, except for Kwakiutl who have a history of warfare.

  1. Larger village communities

  2. More sedentary life-style; move only when soil fertility declines

  3. Practice slash and burn horticulture along with hunting

  4. Warfare is prevalent where there is population pressure

  5. Machiguenga of Peru

  6. Tsembaga Maring of New Guinea

HORTICULTURE (rainfall agriculture /slash and burn/ swidden/ shifting agriculture)
ecology - vast forest areas in tropical regions with ample rainfall

  1. Most gardens produce for 2-4 years.

  2. Long fallow periods are needed for forest regeneration

  3. limiting factor is the animal food.- animals are small, scarce and quickly hunted out.

  4. density - varies from less than one person per sq. mi. among the to 67 per sq. mi. The danger of increased population density is shortened fallow periods that endanger forest regeneration.

  5. subsistence - mostly root crops such as manioc in South America and yams in New Guinea. Where wild animals have been hunted out, the people may stock domesticated animals such as pigs, chickens, cattle, etc. These animals feed themselves and are slaughtered at culturally designated times.

  6. settlement - is mostly semi-migratory or semi-permanent

  7. with community size ranging from 30 in a family level band, to several hundred in a local village.

  8. defense - The Yanomami and Maring practice warfare; they defend marked boundaries, representing scare agricultural land or hunting territories, from neighboring communities.


  1. Cultivation of permanent fields

  2. More labor intensive (use of plow, fertilizers and/or irrigation)

  3. Greater return per unit of land, but people work harder

More labor intensive (use of plow, fertilizers and/or irrigation)

Greater return per unit of land, but people work harder


More likely to have dense settlement

Complex political organization

High degree of specialization

Differences in wealth and power

  • China


a. ecology - depends on an abundant source of river water that can be channeled to agricultural land. Soil fertility is maintained through the silt, containing minerals and nutrients, deposited by the irrigation water. There is little natural world left in these regions. A tremendous amount of work is used to build and maintain terraces, mounds and aqueducts.

b. density - extremely high population density is possible because people produce far more than they consume. Population density is 300-500 people per sq. mi.

c. subsistence - primarily rice which is easily stored and transported. Fertilizer is required for virtually all crops. Every phase of production requires intensive labor. Today irrigation agriculture is increasingly geared toward production for market.

d. settlement - large permanent communities with private ownership of land. Plots are often very small.

e. defense -State run military supported by taxes. PASTORAL NOMADISM -

a. ecology - found mainly in semi-arid grassland and steppes where there is little rainfall and no possibility for irrigation.

The Spread & Intensification of Food Production

  • Need for territorial expansion

  • Further population growth

  • Pressure on resources may lead to competition over land

  • Managerial requirements require taxes or tribute to a political authority

Leslie White has asserted

  1. culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per year is increased

  2. as the efficiency of the means of putting energy to work is increased.

  3. The first part appears to be accurate, while the second part seems dubious.

When you calculate all the energy sources that are used by the industrial system of agriculture, it turns out that the system's technological advances have actually decreased the efficiency of food production.
Industrial Food Energy Systems.

It is difficult to accurately gauge the input-output ratio of industrialized agriculture because the amount of energy put into food production far exceeds the direct labor.

Indirect labor is embodied in the tractors, combines, fuel, pesticides and fertilizers that are required for industrialized agriculture. Recently scientists have started to question the long range efficiency of this food production system.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page