Farming Systems Analysis Essay

Intensive commercial farming is a highly complex industry in Californian cattle feedlots. Common to this type of system-the cattle are associated with high transport costs, bulky mass and their perishable output (milk / meat). The cattle require frequent attention-milking up to twice a day, and adequate feeding two to three times daily. Although intensive commercial farming is most prevalent in eastern USA and northwest Europe, it can be found near all major cities. Feedlots require large initial capital for investment in high technology and persistent capital for the numerous workers. Due to the small land space required, yet intensive labour–the output, likewise, provides the highest output per hectare and highest productivity per farm worker.The difficulty of intensive commercial farming is its high surplus.

The increased efficiency in recent years of feedlots have allowed cows to be marketed at 18-24 months of age; instead of the many years required in the past for cattle to reach market weight and condition. Even though surplus in meat or milk from cattle is required for world trade-the higher than world market subsidized price distorts the overall market and leads to inaccessibility from developing nations. There are 38 million acres of ranges and pastures in California-however feedlots are concentrate large numbers of cattle to efficiently utilize the large abundance of grains and by-products as feed. This not only speeds of production of cattle, but efficiently & intensively utilizes resources from a small plot of land.Most feedlots can be found in central and northern California-where the coast provides characteristics of a Mediterranean climate and intermountain regions provide suitable conditions for the growth of grains and herding of cattle.

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Extensive CommercialCereals (Great Plains, USA)Cereals are an important crop grown in the steppe regions of the world-very popularly in the Great Plains of the USA and the Canadian prairies. Here, vast land is sold cheaper than that of other regions. In many parts of the Great Plains-extending from the states of Wyoming to Texas, there are remote regions of low population density. Hence-there is cheap land that can support vast fields of crop. This system is characterized by minimal input to produce a maximum output. Although productivity per hectare is low, the productivity per worker is high.The 19th century brought high demand towards grains in North America, following rapid industrialization and urban growth. The already prevalent diet towards grains, rapid population growth and increases in irrigation and mechanization led to the widespread demand for grains-met through the building of railways.

The fine soils of the Great Plains are of the most fertile in North America. This is attributed to their climates-semi-arid steppe climate, to a humid continental climate. Summers produce the highest rainfall of the year, whereas other parts of the year such as winter and close to harvesting season are relatively dry. The Rocky Mountains towards the west create a rain shadow-effectively blocking the major weather systems flowing on the west to east jet stream of North America. The flat, open land along with optimal temperatures during the growing season of the regions of the Great Plains allow for extensive commercial farming. The current situation threatening productivity of agriculture in the Great Plains is soil degradation-resulting in the loss of nutrients and water retention of the soils, amounting to millions of dollars lost in productivity.

Extensive SubsistenceCrofting (Scotland)The practices of crafting encompass the extensive subsistence system of farming. Subsistence farming is characterized by the provision of food for a farmer’s own self and family, or the local community-without surplus. Crofting takes place in an extensive region-carried out in large scale, yet has a goal of self-survival, achieving a wide range of crops and animals whenever possible. Due to the lack of capital and technology, farmers are unable to provide a large input towards their agriculture but try to output as much as is needed from their land.

In the highlands of Scotland-individual crofts are created on small plots of land, with larger plots of land shared by local crofters for animal grazing. The better, more arable land is used for vegetable production-and the poorer quality hilly areas are used for the grazing of animals. Challenges that arise are uniquely characterized by the topography, climate and soils of Scotland.

Because most farming takes place on hilly regions, the use of plows is non-existent, and relies heavily on physical work by farmers. The combination of unplowed soils, strong winds and heavy precipitation during the year make this region a highly unfavourable place of agriculture. Weather systems force themselves onto the western Highlands of Scotland due to the nature of orographic precipitation. The effectiveness of this region is questioned-however the formations of local communities have supported this type of farming for over a century.Intensive SubsistenceIrrigated rice farming (Nepal)Irrigated rice farming in Nepal is characterized by its small-scale production to serve its local population, or farmer’s own self and family–enough for survival, without surplus. Due to the lack of capital and technology, farmers are unable to provide a large input towards their agriculture but try to output as much as is needed from their land.

The production of rice in Nepal during 1998-1999 yielded 3.7 million tons in an area of only 1.5 million hectares of land. This statistic shows the huge productivity of the area towards rice farming-as the production of other cereal crops such as maize and wheat in the country fall short of this level of productivity. The steep variation of the country’s altitude, abundance of rainfall during monsoon season, and warm subtropical climate allow for a wide variation of areas for the growth of rice in the coastal regions as well as the more mountainous regions. The current state of irrigated rice farming is threatened by shifts in climate. Delays in the monsoon disrupt the already poor infrastructure of irrigation in the country-causing poor production and/or harvests of rice during the harvesting season.

As a result of shifts in climate, local variations of rice have seen extinction-even the rice grown in the wetter mountainous regions have begun the process of extinction.Works CitedFeedlots (Califonia)CALIFORNIA CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION. “California’s Ranching Heritage.” (2008) 10 Mar 2009 <http://www.calcattlemen.

org/aboutus/californiabeefindustry.html>.Cereals (Great Plains)IISD. “Degradation of Prairie Soil Resources.” (2001) 10 Mar 2009 <

htm>.MSN Encarta. “Great Plains.” (2009) 10 Mar 2009 <>.

Crofting (Scotland)Darling, Fraser. “Crofting Agriculture.” (1945) 10 Mar 2009 <

htm>.Irrigated Rice Farming (Nepal)Gyan, Shrestha. “Special Techniques of Organic Rice Farming in Jumla, Nepal.” (2002) 10 Mar 2009 <http://www2.rda.>.Poudel, Keshab.

“Rice Production Under Threat.” 16 JUL 2004 10 Mar 2009 <>.


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