Agricultural Production Regions Associated With Bioclimatic Zones

Instructor: David Juliao

David has a bachelor's degree in architecture, has done research in architecture, arts and design and has worked in the field for several years.

In this lesson, explore the influence of climate on plants and animal production. Learn about the different agricultural regions, found throughout the world, and examine how they are related to climatic patterns.

Agriculture and Weather

Most of us consume vegetables, dairy, and meat products quite often. These goods are usually available locally but don't necessarily come from nearby. They are commonly grown where conditions are most suitable. For example, you wouldn't think about growing coconuts near the Great Lakes or rice in the Sahara desert.

Climate is determinant in the distribution of vegetation and animals. It also influences the crops that can develop.

There are several different climates around the world. Latitude (distance from the equator), altitude, and humidity are some of the major factors that define them. Areas with similar vegetation, soils, and climate characteristics are considered a bioclimatic zone.

Some of them are:

  • Deserts: Very dry with extreme temperature variations. Vegetation is typically dispersed shrubs.
  • Savannas: High temperatures year-round and seasonal rainfall. Grassland and scattered trees are the common types of vegetation.
  • Tropical forests: High temperatures and precipitation. Abundant trees.
  • Steppes: Temperate climate and often found between forests and deserts. Grass prevails.
  • Temperate forests: Warm summers and cold winters. Vegetation consists mostly of trees.
  • Colder zones: Areas with low temperatures. Vegetation becomes scarcer as conditions turn extreme. These zones are taiga, tundra, and high mountains.

Climate zones. Deserts are shown in brown, dry zones in yellow and dark red, tropical forests in red, temperate climates in green and colder regions are bluish
World climate zones

Agricultural Production Regions in Bioclimatic Zones

Agriculture depends closely on temperature, rainfall, and soil. When examining the distribution of crops, we often find that in a bioclimatic zone, similar types of agriculture tend to develop. However, these are general groupings, and as we zoom in on the map, we find specific areas, that might have different conditions, and activities.

Pastoral Nomadism

Pastoral nomadism is a form of livestock herding. This activity is common in areas too dry for raising crops, but not totally sterile like some deserts. Water is usually scarce, and shepherds move around with animals, looking for water and foliage. This is a subsistence activity, and very vulnerable to droughts and severe weather changes.

Pastoral nomadism prevails in parts of the Sahara, Southwest Asia, Horn of Africa, and the steppes of Mongolia, northern China, Central Asia, and northern Russia.

Pastoral nomadism in Northern Africa
Pastoral nomadism

Livestock Ranching

Livestock ranching is a sedentary, and more commercially-oriented activity. Often, large tracts of land are used, and each area is animal specific; mostly cattle, sheep, and goats.

Ranching is common in savannas and steppes close to arid areas. The dry climate and poor soils make it difficult for crops to be grown. This activity prevails in non-desert areas of Australia and South Africa, the plains of South America, northern Mexico, and areas of the western United States.

Shifting Agriculture

In the tropics, there are large humid areas covered by dense vegetation. The soil is barely fertile, and when the foliage is removed, the soil erodes and degrades quickly.

This had led to shifting agriculture, a type of subsistence farming consisting of changing cultivation places, after a certain time. After the land becomes exhausted, new areas are cleared, often using fire. This practice tends to cause deforestation problems.

Shifting agriculture is found in the Amazon basin, the forests of Central America, Indonesia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Congo basin, and forest areas of Southeast Asia.

More sedentary forms of agriculture have developed in nearby zones, where soils are more fertile, like the river valleys and deltas in Africa, the Andean mountains, and other smaller spots.

Subsistence farming in Kenya
Subsistence farming

Intensive Subsistence Agriculture

Intensive subsistence agriculture is found in areas where rain is abundant. Where the season is long enough to flood the fields, paddy rice (grown in wet fields) is usually the main crop. Floods also help to maintain soil fertility.

Mechanized plowing machines are used, but the rest of the work is generally done by hand. However, the crop yields are often high.

In areas with shorter rain seasons, the land is used for crops like wheat and oil-seeds. Tea is commonly grown in more mountainous areas.

Intensive subsistence agriculture is found in southern China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia and India. These are also the most populous regions of the world.

Rice fields in Vietnam
Rice fields

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