We’ve already written a guide about factors that affect plant growth.
This guide is about the factors that specifically affect how and where crops grow, and the distribution of agricultural crops worldwide.
Factors That Affect Regular Plant Growth Can Also Be Applied To Crop Growth
Many of those plant growth factors apply to crop growth for commercial and industrial agriculture. For example:
- The type of crop – one examples is that different crops have different growing season lengths like wheat for example which is 90 days. Another example is that a crop like cotton needs a lot more water than some crops
- Animals – moths, weevil, locusts, aphids etc. are pests that can damage crops. On the other hand, there are beneficial animal like certain types of insects that can control pests or contribute to soil health
- Secondary plant life – other crops, trees, weeds
- Soil microbes
- The local climate – average rainfall, temperature, and wind
- Soil type and amount of fertile topsoil – soil differs from state to state, and topsoil depth and quality isn’t the same everywhere
- Geographic location – different locations have different topography, and other factors like altitude and slopes that make them unique with their own local growing conditions
- Other environmental factors – sunlight, humidity and so on. Natural land degradation (wind and water erosion of topsoil being examples) can be a negative environmental factor to consider.
- Human activities, inputs and factors – inputs like irrigation, fertilizer, pesticides, water etc. Activities that help with land/soil maintenance, or activities that cause land degradation like too much intensive tilling. Crop care practices. Other factors like depth of sowing, seed size, row spacing, seedbed preparation can all play a role.
Factors That Affect Agricultural Growth/Productivity, & Distribution Specifically
On top of those factors, there are agricultural factors that also play a part, such as:
- Land tenure – farmers who own their land (mostly in the developed world) have far more incentive to be productive and efficient, and also have more control how they farm, compared to farmers who are leasing or renting the land, or selling their labor to work on someone else’s land (like in developing countries and poorer areas)
- Market – there must be a demand for a specific crop. Cultural, religious and economic factors can all play a role in the demand of different crops and foods.
- Transport – the cost of transport, technology of transport such as refrigerated and cold food storage systems, and how far away farms are from market all play a role in what can be grown in a specific location. For example, some developing parts of the world can’t grow perishable crops because they lack access to cold storage of food on transport trucks.
- Capital – money and finances to invest in farming and different crops. Developed countries are going to have more capital to use or borrow. More money also means more risk can be taken with certain crops, and new crop practices.
- Technology – better technology contributes to higher yields, better efficiency, cost savings and so on. Industrial and heavily commercialised farming usually involves heavy machinery and intense application of technology.
- Government – government policy, regulation and action has a significant impact on the agricultural sector in a variety of ways – even indirectly through policy on resources used like water for irrigation.