• Revision:Extensive Commercial Farming

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Extensive Commercial Farming

Livestock Ranching

  • Livestock ranching in US originally began as open range where the land was not divided by fences
  • Some units are 7k squ/ kms and are in areas or poor quality grazing as less than 500mm of rainfall per year
  • Irrigation made it possible for farmers to grow additional fodder crops
  • Workforce on ranches is small and productivity of workers is high
  • Cattle raised for 2 years before being sent to corn belt for fattening and slaughter
  • Pampas of South America have about 7500mm of rainfall per year
  • This support better quality grassland in USA
  • Around 20,000 cattle are kept
  • Natural advantages for cattle ranching - summers are warm, moist, winters are mile
  • This allows almost continual plant growth


Wheat Farming

  • The grasslands of the 3 prairie provinces, Alberta Sasketchewan and Manitoba are used for spring wheat
  • Mixed farming has been noticeable since 70s
  • Spring wheat is planted in spring and harvested after a short growing season, while winter wheat grown in warmers areas, is planted in winter and harvested in the autumn
  • Prairies have physical characteristics which have advantages:
  • The summer growing season is short, 90 days minimum required
  • Short summer warm over 15 degrees C with long hours of daylight
  • Black chernozem soils are deep and fertile
  • Land is relatively flat which aids mechanisation and transport
  • Severe winter frosts break up the soil

Some disadvantages are:

  • Droughts occur occasionally
  • Hail and early cold snaps can ruin crops
  • Without vegetations cover, the soil is vulnerable to erosion
  • In drier areas wheat may be grown by dry farming methods which involve leaving the land fallow in alternate years to regain soil moisture
  • Wheat farming -> capital intensive on prairies therefore productivity per worker is high

Yields have increased over last 40 years due to factors:

  • Amalgamation of farms into larger more economic units
  • Improved seed varieties which are drought and frost resistant
  • More use of strip farming
  • Improved dry-farming methods
  • Selective irrigation
  • Improved fertilisers and pesticides
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