Whittlesey gave his classification of agriculture in 1936 based on many factors. For instance, factors controlling the yield, spatial stability, market orientation, specialization of agriculture etc. The relevance and basis of classification of Whittlesey’s Agricultural Regions has been discussed in a previous article. Whittlesey’s agricultural regions entails the social, cultural, biological and technological aspects of agriculture.
Whittlesey classified the world in to 13 Agricultural Regions
1. Nomadic Herding
- Transhumance or Nomadic herding refers to the seasonal migration of shepherds along with their livestock.
- Location: Shepherds of regions with treacherous topography and climate practice nomadic herding. For instance, Himalayas, Andes, Saharan Africa, Scandinavia, North Canada are the key regions of nomadic herding.
- Characteristic of Nomadic Herding:
- It is a subsistence activity.
- The nomads continue to move from one place to other throughout the year.
- Nomads grow the multiple species of animals. For example, sheep, goats, yaks etc.
- It also involves the cross-border transhumance.
2. Livestock Ranching
- Livestock Ranching refers to the domestication of animals at a fixed place such as ranch, farm or stable.
- Location: It is located on the large grasslands of the world. For example, Prairies in North America, Pampas in Latin America, Weld in South Africa, Downs in Australia and Llanos in Venezuela.
- Characteristics of Livestock Ranching:
- Located in semi-arid climatic regions.
- Highly managed farms.
- Farmers improve the breed of their animals.
- The primary motive of animal farming is commercial.
3. Shifting Cultivation
- Shifting of crop cultivation from one place to another, seasonally, is called shifting cultivation.
- Location: It has multiple names across the world such as Jhooming in Assam, Podu in Orissa, Penda in Chhatisgarh, Kumari in Western Ghats, Ladang in Malaysia, Milpa in Mexico, Roca in Brazil, Chena in Sri Lanka and Reh in Vietnam etc.
- There is a lack of fertility in forest soil. As a result, the farmer have to clear other part of forest for cultivation.
- Characteristic of Shifting Cultivation:
- Subsistence cultivation
- There is rotation of fields, seasonally.
- Farmers grow many types of crops for food.
4. Rudimentary Tillage
- Rudimentary Tillage refers to the type of cultivation where the farmers sow the seeds of the crops and makes little interference in environment.
- Location: Tropical lands of America, Africa and East Asia are the key regions with rudimentary tillage.
- Characteristics of Rudimentary Tillage:
- Crop rotation and fallows are necessary to recuperate the fertility of land.
- On the one hand, the technological interventions are very poor.
- On the other hand, the farmers are dependent on environmental conditions, therefore, the cost of cultivation remains low. As a result the productivity is also low.
- Crops such as potatoes, maize, sorghum, banana etc. are cultivated.
5. Intensive Subsistence Agriculture with Paddy
- It refers to the high intensity paddy cultivation in highly populated regions of the world.
- Location: India, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Southeast Asia.
- Farmers grow multiple crops in this regions. Therefore, such areas have high gross cropped areas.
- Due to high population, the land is scarce.
- There are large paddy field.
- Due to lack of food, malnourishment is rampant in such regions.
6. Intensive Subsistence Agriculture without Paddy
- It refers to the high intensity cultivation of grains, such as wheat, barley, soya etc.. in highly populated regions of the world.
- Location: Semi-arid north-west India, Northeast China.
- High cropping intensity
- The cultivation is labour intensive i.e. little use of technology.
- Crops are rain dependent. As a result, crop failures and famines occur very often.
- Cultivation of food grains is main activity.
7. Commercial Plantation
- The cultivation of plants which yield marketable products is called commercial plantation.
- Location: North and South America, Northeast and Southwest India, China, Kenya, Ethiopia etc.
- For example, coffee, tea, jute, oil palm, cocoa etc. are major commercial crops in such regions.
- This cultivation is market oriented.
- This type of agriculture is highly labour intensive.
- Intensive use of land through well managed cultivation of plants. Plantations work like an industrial unit.
- Cultivation is done on huge land estates.
8. Mediterranean Agriculture
- Mediterranean agriculture refers to the cultivation of those crops which are dependent on winter rainfall for growth.
- Location: The all coastal areas around the Mediterranean Sea falling in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Israel, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Algiers etc.
- This regions is under influence of westerlies, so, rain is available in winters only.
- Farmers grow citrus plants and fruits. For example, orange, grapes, olives, lemons etc.
- This type of agriculture has strong market linkages because these corps derive good market price.
- This region has huge and well managed orchards.
9. Commercial Grain Farming
- It refers to the cultivation of food grains for sale in the market.
- Location: This type of farming is done in grassland regions of the world. For instance, Prairies in North America, Steppes in Eurasia, Downs in Australia etc.
- Very large estates spreading for hundreds of acres.
- Extensive Agriculture: The agricultural productivity is low because of the lesser use of irrigation and fertilizers,
- Highly mechanized agriculture. The labour input is very little, therefore, the these farms can not be managed a micro level.
- The produce is, primarily, for the market.
- Yield is low but due to overall large quantity of output, it does not matter.
10. Subsistence Crop-Livestock Farming
- This type of farming involves growing crops and animals along each other.
- One the one hand, the farmers grow wheat, maize and coarse grains are major crops. On the other hand, they keep sheep and goats.
- Location: Northern Europe, West Asia, Mountainous regions across the world.
- This is a type of subsistence farming.
- The methods of cultivation are traditional.
- Seed and animal quality is poor because the farmers do not make investment in breed improvement.
- Low level of capital inputs from farmers.
11. Commercial Livestock and Cropping
- Raising crops and animals along each other for commercial purposes.
- Location: Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
- It is highly mechanized form of farming on large farms.
- Farmers practice mixed cropping and mix farming.
- It is found in highly populated place.
- Market oriented: These farms are located close to market and cities to be able to provide fresh meat and vegetables.
- It is known as truck farming and market farming in these regions. To clarify, please note that the truck farming is different from market gardening.
12. Commercial Dairy Farming
- It refers to the production of milk, butter and other related products for sale in market. It is also called Daily Farming.
- Location: Primarily, farmers practice dairy farming around large cities. For instance, cities of Northern Europe, U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Denmark, Belgium etc. It is so because the milk is a perishable product.
- This farming has following Characteristics:
- Firstly, It is capital intensive farming.
- Secondly, Farmers invest in improvement of animal breeds. Hence, the yield is very high.
- Thirdly, the primary motive of this farming is commerce.
- Ultimately, it has a distributive effect on farmers’ welfare because large number of farmer are able to practice this agriculture on small unit of land.
13. Specialized Horticulture
- It refers to the cultivation of only one type of plant or tree. For instance, specialization in cultivation of either of flowers, fruits and vegetables.
- It is also known as Market Gardening.
- Location: Developed regions practice such agriculture. Such as norther Europe, Italy, Southeastern Australia, Kashmir Valley in India etc.
- Small sized farms but yield is very high.
- It is so because cropping intensity is also very high.
- These farms are located near communication and consumption centers.
Summary of Whittlesey’s Agricultural Regions
To sum up, Whittlesey’s agricultural regions covers most of the types of agriculture on the globe. He gave this classification in 1936 but since then, a lot of changes has occurred in the agricultural section. So, these types of agriculture still exist but their distributive patterns have changes. Most importantly, it is a general classification for whole world and serves its purpose well.
Kulwinder Singh is an alumni of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and working as Assistant Professor of Geography at Pt. C.L.S. Government College, Kurukshetra University. He is a passionate teacher and avid learner.