Spatial Conditions

Land-use planning for farming has an impact on agricultural spatial conditions. It is a means to improve these conditions and provide better production. Spatial conditions can be divided into four aspects: access, location, shape, and dimensions. These aspects can be used to describe the way in which spatial conditions influence agricultural production. See Fig. 2.7 and Table 2.4 for examples of these aspects.

Various kinds of access are necessary for the farm to operate competitively. Farm products have to be transported from the fields to the farm buildings and to the market. Animal feed supplements must be taken to the stables, fertilizers must be transported from the (local) market to the fields. In agricultural systems, with high mechanization, it is also neccesary that the fields be accessible to heavy mechanical equipment.

Spatial parameters vary from one location to another. It is very important to fix the right location for the right activity. The best location for storage facilities is near a road. Conversely, an isolated field in the middle of a forest area will be of little use to a farmer. On a higher level, the right location will depend on regional types of land use and on the suitability of the location for farming.

At different levels, the dimensions indicate the economic and, sometimes, social survivability of a farm or a farming system. Almost always, a minimum size is required. For example, the use of mechanical equipment is tied up with the size of the area (the field) that has to be worked. When the field is too small, the investment in a harvester is too high for a single farm or group of farms.

The shape is less important as a spatial condition. Its meaning as a factor to determine the suitability of a farm or a field for agricultural production is limited almost entirely to mechanized farming systems. In these systems, the shape of the fields influences the yields and the productivity of the equipment used.

Figure 2.7. Example of the four aspects of spatial conditions (see also Table 2.5). Three of the four aspects can be illustrated by a dairy farm that is not too distant from a town, where the local market is situated. The farm buildings are situated along a public road. A private road leads from the buildings to five lots. The local market at which all products from the farm are sold, also is situated along the public road. The text in Table 2.4 reviews the aspects of the spatial conditions. The regional level is left out, because of the scale of the example. The dimension aspect also is left out because it was not possible to incorporate it in the figure.

Figure 2.7. Example of the four aspects of spatial conditions (see also Table 2.5). Three of the four aspects can be illustrated by a dairy farm that is not too distant from a town, where the local market is situated. The farm buildings are situated along a public road. A private road leads from the buildings to five lots. The local market at which all products from the farm are sold, also is situated along the public road. The text in Table 2.4 reviews the aspects of the spatial conditions. The regional level is left out, because of the scale of the example. The dimension aspect also is left out because it was not possible to incorporate it in the figure.

Table 2.4. Aspects of spatial conditions using a dairy farm example

Level

Aspect

Farm

Field

Access

Location

Excellent. The buildings are situated along the public road. Trucks and other vehicles have direct access to the farm.

Fairly good. The local market, which is very important to the farm, is not too far away.

Shape

Moderate. Lots 1, 2, and 3 are easily accessible, but lots 4 and 5 have restrictions: a hedge and a ditch, respectively.

Could be better. The distance from the buildings to the lots, especially lots 4 and 5 are restricting the farming method. The animals (in this example cows) cannot graze on these two lots, because they have to be milked twice or three times a day.

Good, with the exception of lot 5, which is irregularly shaped and is in the shadow of a tree.

Table 2.5. Levels and aspects of spatial conditions

Aspect

Level

Regional

Farm

Field

Access

x

x

x

Location

x

x

Dimensions

x

x

x

Shape

x

The four aspects—access, location, shape, and dimensions—can be reviewed at different levels. The examples show that access to a field is very different from access to a farming system. Three levels can be distinguished: field, farm, and region. Each aspect has its own characteristics at each level. Shape applies only to the field level, whereas location does not apply to the field level. The four aspects and the levels at which they occur are given in Table 2.5.

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