Von Thunen

With the reference to the Von Thunen’s model of agricultural land use which is also known as “The Isolated State,” answer the following question. Use specific examples wherever appropriate.
A. Diagram the model and identity two assumptions made by Von Thunen that may not be true in reality.
B. According to the model what two costs must a farmer consider when deciding which crops to cultivate? What is the relationship between distance to market and land use?
C. To what extent is the model relevant in more and less developed countries today?

Main Idea: To illustrate the trade off between land values and the distance from a central point of attraction.

* the one in the textbook is more clear

Two assumptions:

  1. the city is located centrally within an “Isolation,” which is self sufficient and has no external influences
  2. the soil quality and climate are consistent through the state

B. Von Thunen’s model is an a great illustration of the balance between land cost and transportation cost. As one gets closer to a city the price of the land increases. The farmers balance the two costs to produce the most effective product for market.

The relative costs of transporting different agricultural commodities to the central market determined the agricultural land use around a city. The most productive activities will thus compete for the closest land to the market and activities not productive enough will locate further away. The model has a set of basic assumptions which reflects agricultural conditions around a city in the early 19th century:

  • Isolation. There is one isolated market in an isolated state having no interactions (trade) with the outside. (in this case the “city”)
  • Ubiquitous land characteristics. The land surrounding the market is entirely flat and its fertility uniform.
  • Transportation. It is assumed there are no transport infrastructures such as roads or rivers and that farmers are transporting their production to the market using horses and carts. Transportation costs are dependent of the type of commodity being transported to the market as well as the distance involved.

All agricultural land uses are maximizing their productivity , which in this case is dependent upon their location from the market (Central City). The role of farmer is to maximize his profit which is simply the market price minus the transport and production costs. The most productive activities (gardening or milk production) or activities having high transport costs (firewood) locate nearby the market.

The relationships between agricultural land use and market distance are very difficult to establish in the contemporary context. However, a strong relationship between the transport system and regional agricultural land use patterns can be acknowledged at the continental level in North America.

C. It is relevant to less developed countries because it cost more money to transport the goods to the countries that are farthest away. So countries that are more developed like North America or Europe are less likely to grow highly perishable and bulky products.

(Example: wheat)

No transport costs:

  • Gross profit from sale of wheat grown on 1 hectare of land not including transportation costs:

a. Wheat can be grown for $0.25 per kilogram.

b. Yield per hectare of wheat is 1,000 kilogram

c. Gross profit is $250 per hectare ($0.25 per kilogram x 1,000 kilograms per hectare)

With transport costs:

  • Net profit from sale of wheat grown on 1 hectare of land including transportation costs:

a. Cost of transporting 1,000 kilograms of wheat to the market is $62.50 per kilometer.

b. Net profit from the sale of 1,000 kilograms of wheat grown on a farm located 1 kilometer from the market is $187.50 ($250 gross profit-$62.50 per kilometer transport costs.)

c. Net profit from the sale of 1,000 kilograms of wheat grown on a farm located 4 kilometer from the market is $0 ($250 gross profit-$62.50 per kilometer x 4 kilometers


28 April 2010

MLA Citation List

The Von Thunen Model: A Model of Agricultural Land Use <http://geography.about.com/od/urbaneconomicgeography/a/vonthunen.htm>

Von Thunen’s Regional Land Use Model <http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch6en/conc6en/vonthunen.html>

An Introduction to Human Geography: The Cultural Landscape (textbook)