Geographia Polonica (1970) vol. 19

The Phenomena, Functioning Units and Systems of Agriculture

Clarence W. Olmstead

Geographia Polonica (1970) vol. 19, pp. 31-42 | Full text

At the expense of over-simplification, one may identify several different approaches or emphases which have successively characterized the study of agricultural geography in the United States. These include:

  1. Commodity studies, especially studies of individual crops.
  2. Small-scale studies of crop-land relationships.
  3. Large-scale field studies of agricultural land-use and landscapes.
  4. Studies using the cultural-historical approach, and
  5. Studies using a theoretical-quantitative approach.

I would propose a sixth approach to the geographical study of agriculture, which I will call the systems approach. I believe that it can encompass all of the best objectives and methods of each of the previous approaches. It is a con-ceptual framework designed to accommodate within a single interrelated body of knowledge the comparative study of any or all of the diverse elements and varieties of agriculture that exist in the world.

Clarence W. Olmstead, Department of Geography University of Wisconsin Madison, Wise. USA