Chapter 10 Agriculture Key Issue 3: Agriculture in Developed Countries


A. Mixed Crop and Livestock Farming
Mixed crop and livestock farming is the most common form of commercial agriculture in the United States west of the Appalachians and east of 98° west longitude and in much of Europe from France to Russia.

Characteristics of Mixed Crop and Livestock Farming
The most distinctive characteristic of mixed crop and livestock farming is its integration of crops and livestock.
Most of the crops are fed to animals rather than consumed directly by humans.
Mixed crop and livestock farming permits farmers to distribute the workload more evenly through the year and it reduces seasonal variations in income.

Crop Rotation Systems
Mixed crop and livestock farming typically involves crop rotation.
Crop rotation contrasts with shifting cultivation, in which nutrients depleted from a field are restored only by leaving the field fallow (uncropped) for many years.
A two-field crop-rotation system was developed in Northern Europe as early as the 5th century
Beginning in the 8th century, a three-field system was introduced.
Each field yielded four harvests every six years, compared to three every six years under the two-field system.
A four-field system was used in Northwest Europe by the eighteenth century.
Each field thus passed through a cycle of four crops: root, cereal, rest crop, and another cereal.
Cereals were sold for flour and beer production, and straw was retained for animal bedding.
Root crops were fed to the animals during the winter.
Clover and other "rest" crops were used for cattle grazing and restoration of nitrogen to the soil.

B. Why Dairy Farms Locate Near Urban Areas
Dairying has become the most important type of commercial agriculture in the first ring outside large cities because of transportation factors.
The ring surrounding a city from which milk can be supplied without spoiling is known as the milkshed.
Improvements in transportation have permitted dairying to be undertaken farther from the market.
As a result, nearly every farm in the U.S. Northeast and Northwest Europe is within the milkshed of at least one urban area.
Some dairy farms specialize in products other than milk.
Originally, butter and cheese were made directly on the farm, primarily from the excess milk produced in the summer, before modern agricultural methods evened the flow of milk through the year.

Problems for Dairy Farmers
Like other commercial farmers, dairy farmers face economic problems because of declining revenues and rising costs.
Dairy farming is labor-intensive.
Dairy farmers also face the expense of feeding the cows in the winter, when they may be unable to graze on grass.
The number of farms with milk cows declined in the United States by 2/3 between 1980 and 2000.
The number of dairy cows declined by only 1/8, and production actually increased by 1/4—yields per cow increased substantially. (Less farmers = more milk from each cow!)

C. Grain Farming
Commercial grain agriculture is distinguished from mixed crop and livestock farming because crops on a grain farm are grown primarily for consumption by humans rather than by livestock.
Wheat generally can be sold for a higher price than other grains and it has more uses as human food.
Because wheat has a relatively high value per unit weight, it can be shipped profitably from remote farms to markets.

Importance of Wheat
Wheat is grown to a considerable extent for international trade and is the world\'s leading export crop.
The ability to provide food for many people elsewhere in the world is a major source of economic and political strength for the United States and Canada.

D. Livestock Ranching
Ranching is the commercial grazing of livestock over an extensive area, practiced in more developed countries, where the vegetation is too sparse and the soil too poor to support crops.
The importance of ranching in the United States extends beyond the number of people who choose this form of commercial farming because of its prominence in popular culture.
49720504581525Cattle ranching in Texas, though, as glamorized in popular culture, actually dominated commercial agriculture for a short period—from 1867 to 1885.

Beginning of U.S. Cattle Ranching
Cattle were first brought to the Americas by Columbus on his second voyage.
Living in the wild, the cattle multiplied and thrived on abundant grazing lands on the frontiers of North and South America.
Immigrants from Spain and Portugal—the only European countries with