Exam-style Questions: Agriculture

  1. a) Define the term agribusiness.

    (2 marks)

    b) Discuss the statement that "Agribusiness pursues profit at the expense of the environment."

    (12 marks)

    (Marks available: 14)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 1

    a) You would get one mark for a basic definition and one mark for elaboration. The following would get two marks:

    "Agribusiness refers to the situation where the agricultural enterprise is owned by corporate business and operates for profit maximisation. Farmers produce cash crops for food or as a raw material in manufacturing. It generally involves large scale arable farms, is highly capital intensive and mechanised."

    b) You are focusing on the consequences of agribusiness on the environment. Possible consequences to discuss would include:

    • Eutrophication of lakes and rivers
    • Removal of ponds
    • Poisoning from pesticides
    • Soil erosion
    • Genetically modified crops
    • Degradation of landscape

    You would get two marks for each factor you discussed and one extra mark for quoting relevant case studies/examples. Your discussion should relate to the pursuit of profit maximisation.

    You are after twelve marks so look to discuss at least four points.

    (Total = 14 marks)

  2. a) Outline the land-use theory proposed by Von Thunen.

    (5 marks)

    b) To what extent do you think his theory is relevant today?

    (10 marks)

    (Marks available: 15)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 2

    a) Your answer should include the following points for full marks:

    • What Von T's theory is
    • A graph or diagram showing how he comes up with his theory
    • Explanation of the graph
    • His full model of agricultural land-use and one with modification

    You need to include all of this with a clear explanation for full marks.

    b) Is asking you to evaluate his model. There are several advantages and disadvantages and you need to demonstrate that you know them. Four to six marks are available for advantages such as:

    • It helps us to understand one of the processes involved in determining land-use
    • There are some world examples that relate in part to his model
    • Locational rent is a theory that has been applied in economic and urban geography

    And four to six marks for disadvantages such as:

    • His assumptions make the model inapplicable to the real world - the flat physical landscape for example
    • He makes no reference to the role of government
    • Man is not an economic animal always trying to maximise profit
    • The world has changed totally since he devised his model making his work out dated.

    Obviously each of these points would have to be fully discussed to receive full marks.

    Note: you can get 4 - 6 for each section but this will still only be up to a total of ten!

    (Total = 15 marks)

  3. With reference to examples discuss how human factors affect the global distribution of agricultural systems.

    (Marks available: 15)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 3

    These kind of questions are a gift because hopefully you will have simply learnt the factors 'parrot fashion'.

    Factors you could discuss include:

    • Land tenure - owner occupiers have the greatest incentives to increase yields
    • Market - farmers will grow crops that are profitable
    • Transport - see Von Thunen
    • Capital - will determine the level of technology a farmer can utilise
    • Technology - new technology can increase yields and affect the landscape
    • Government - policies will influence what systems a farmer uses or crops he grows
    • Von Thunen - provides us with an explanation of land-use. He uses locational rent to explain how land use will change as you move away from an urban area. As you move away so intensity will decrease as a consequence of inhibitive transport costs.

    Expect to get three marks for a well-discussed point that refers to examples. This means you would have to discuss at least five!

    (Total = 15 marks)

  4. a) For a country or region of your choice, discuss the changes in agricultural systems and the reasons for those changes.

    (8 marks)

    b) To what extent have the changes outlined in 4a been a success?

    (7 marks)

    (Marks available: 15)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 4

    a) To answer this effectively you will have to:

    • Clearly outline the changes by explaining what was there first and what is there now - for three marks
    • Explain why there as been a change - for the other five marks

    You must refer to a specific change to get any marks. Possible changes to discuss include:

    • The move in the UK towards organic farming
    • The growth in agribusiness
    • The collectives of communist countries
    • Changes in Europe as a consequence of the common agricultural policy

    b) To answer this you must consider the reasons for change:

    For example: the common agricultural policy came about because of food shortages and in-efficiency in European farms.

    To discuss its success you would have to weigh up the fact that we have a plentiful supply of food at affordable prices due to efficient farming techniques against the fact that we also have massive food surpluses, increased use of fertilisers and pesticides and, the destruction of hedgerows.

    You can get seven marks for this section so look to fully discuss four factors.

    (Total = 15 marks)