Answer 2 - Suggested Answers

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					                           The Von Thunen Model

Worksheet 1

1. What is locational rent?
It is the difference between the revenue received by a farmer for a crop grown on a piece of
land and the total cost of producing and transporting that crop. It is therefore the profit from
a unit of land.

2. ‘Locational rent shows a distance-decay relationship.’ Explain the statement.
Something showing a distance-decay relationship means that it will decrease with increasing
distance from a point of reference. In von Thunen’s landscape, locational rent declines
with distance from the market.

3. Give examples of other things which also show distance-decay relationship.
   population density with distance from a city centre
   accessibility with distance from a city centre
   radiation with distance from a source

II. Farming as an economic system in Von Thunen Landscape

Regarding the                                 Von Thunen’s Assumption
Economy                   1. An ‘isolated state’ with one city at the centre; prefect
                          competition is assumed. An ‘isolated state’ is not linked with
                          the rest of the world.
Urban-rural setting       2. There is one city at the centre of the isolated state. The
                          city is the sole market for the surplus production from the
                          agricultural area. The agricultural area is the sole supplier to
                          the city.
Physical environment      3. This agricultural area is a uniform plain over which soil
                          fertility, climate, and other physical factors do not vary.
Farmer’s behaviour        4. All farmers act as economic men. They aim to maximize
                          their profits and have full knowledge of the needs of the
Movement over space       5. There are no physical barriers to movement across the plain.
                          There is only one form of transport (in those days, horse and
                          cart). The cost of this transport is directly proportional to
Worksheet 2
1. Why did Von Thunen establish so many assumptions?
He tried to control all other factors that might affect LR, leaving distance the sole variable.

2. Describe the market situation in Von Thunen’s agricultural landscape.
Perfect competition was assumed. There are numerous buyers and sellers. Market price is
determined by supply and demand. Farmers are economic men who are well-informed and
aim at profit maximization.

3. Is Von Thunen’s uniform plain assumption the same as Christaller’s isotropic surface?
Their assumptions are similar.
    Type of farming                      Intensive             Extensive
    Distance from market (km)     d      1          30        1           30
    Yields (tonnes / ha)          Y     80          80       50           50
    Production cost ($)            c    25          25       20           20
    Total production Cost ($)    Yc   2,000        2,000   1,000         1,000
    Transport cost ($)           Ytd    80         2,400     50          1,500
    Total Revenue ($)            Yp   4,400        4,400   2,750         2,750
    Locational rent / profit ($)      2,320          0     1,700          250
(market price = $55/tonne;              transport cost = $1 / tonne / km)

                                 2500                                                Intensive
           Locational rent ($)

                                        0                       10          20        30

                                                   Distance from urban market (km)

          The margin of transference from intensive to extensive farming is 21.6 km from urban

           Farmers nearer to the market should adopt a more intensive way of production.
 Worksheet 4
        Type of farming                               Vegetable         Wheat                Potato
Distance from market (km)                   d         0       30      0            30      0       30
Yields (tonnes / ha)                        Y        30       30     60            60     90       90
Production cost ($)                          c       20       20     20            20     20       20
Market Price ($/tonne)                       p       70       70     60            60     50       50
Total production Cost ($)                  Yc       600      600    1,200        1,200   1,800    1,800
Transport cost ($)                         Ytd        0      900      0          1,800     0      2,700
Total Revenue ($)                          Yp      2,100    2,100   3,600        3,600   4,500    4,500
Locational rent / profit ($)                       1,500     600    2,400         600    2,700      0
 (transport cost = $1/ tonne / km)

   Locational rent ($)

                         1000                                                                     Wheat
                          500                                                                     Potato

                          -500 0              10             20             30            40
                                          Distance from urban market (km)

 The margin of transference from potato to wheat is 10 km from urban market.
 The margin of transference from wheat to vegetable is 30 km from urban market.
 Farmers locating near to urban market should grow crop with higher yield / greater weight.

 1.                      more intensive farming can be found near to urban market
                         perishable farming products such as milk should be produced near urban market
 2.                      there is a uniform plain
                         transport cost is directly proportional to distance and weight
                         man is economically rational
 3.                      the improvement in transport technology and the rapid decrease in unit transport cost
                         the rise of international regional specialization and division of labour
        rapid urban development and strong anticipation of urban encroachment
 4.     the active role of government / institutional factors
        perception of farmers / behavioural factors

                                The Sinclair’s Model

Classwork I

 Underlying                            Characteristics in Sinclair’s time
            Improved and more efficient means of transport have displaced former methods.
            Costs of all types of transport have declined greatly in relation to most other
 Transport agricultural production costs. Moreover, transport costs are not necessarily directly
 technology proportional to distance and bulk. Because of refrigeration and air-conditioning
            techniques, perishable commodities can be carried long distance without spoiling. An
            increasing amount of agricultural produce is processed before shipment. These new
            development help to satisfy fully the changing tastes of the modern city dweller, who
            demands a more varied and exotic diet than what local agriculture can provide.

             Modern organization favours large scale production and mass transportation of
             agricultural produce. As a result, physical or other advantages of distant, specialized
  Human      regions have become more important than in the past. For this same reason, there is
organization rarely such a thing as a single local market, but rather a nationwide or worldwide

              In many advanced developed parts of the world, the basic forces determining
              agricultural land use near urban areas are associated with urban expansion with
Living habits population growth and constantly expanding areas of urban land use. Although urban
              expansion is uneven and in many ways chaotic, there is evidence that it creates an
              agricultural pattern quite often is one of increasing intensity opposite to von Thunen’s


Classwork II

1. Describe the value of agriculture for crop X in regions O-P, P-Q and Q-R.

From O-P, agricultural value is 0. From P-Q, agricultural value increases as the distance
increases. From Q onward, agricultural value keeps constant.
2. Explain the change of value of agriculture with distance from city centre.

From O-P, urban expansion has resulted in the replacement of agricultural land by urban uses.
The locational rent of urban uses are much higher than farming use. Agriculture has been
outbid by urban land uses. Agricultural value thus is zero. At the margin of O-P,
replacement does not take place yet, but will sooner do. Existing farmland may lie idle waiting
for speculation.

From P-Q, immediate urban expansion does not occur in the meanwhile. But sooner or later,
the land will be replaced by urban uses. It is not justifiable for farmers to invest too much on
their farms. The land still can bring income if it is used for extensive grazing or growing of
field crops. The further away from the city, the weaker is the influence of urban expansion.
Thus value of agriculture increases slowly with distance from city.

Beyond Q, the influence of urban expansion ceases. The most economical way of using the
land is farming. It is also justifiable to invest much on the land. Agricultural value is high.
The flat curve indicates that farming potential is not so controlled by physical distance.

3. How does such pattern of agricultural value affect farming intensity?

From O-P, farming intensity is the lowest. Farmers have no incentive to invest in this region
because the land will finally be used for urban purposes.

Intensity increases with distance in region P-Q. Value of agriculture is increasing in this region.
Farmers are willing to increase their farming inputs per area.

Values of agriculture remains constant in region Q-R. Urban influence will not extend to this
region. Farmers can make long term plan on investment. Thus farming intensity is highest
among the three regions.

4. Complete the following table.

Region    Agricultural       Farming                          Reasons
             value           intensity

  O-P      zero / lowest      Lowest      urban influence changes land use pattern;

                                          agricultural land is outbid by urban uses

  P-Q       increasing       Increasing   urban influence is not immediate;

                                          urban influences decreases with distance

 Q-R        remains           Highest     urban influence is minimum;
         constant in high
              level                       long term planning in farming is possible
B. Locational rents and Land Use Pattern around a Metropolitan Area

Classwork II

1. What are the land use types marked (1) to (5)?

(1) ---    urban farming                        (2) ---    vacant and grazing

(3) ---    field crop and grazing               (4) ---    dairying and field crop

(5) ---    specialized feed grain livestock

III..      Sinclair’s Model : Land Use Pattern

Ring  Land use                  Reasons for selection of crops and/or livestock and production
 1 Urban farming         At the urban edges, land is either changing to urban use, being subdivided,
                         or held by speculators. Here urban farming, a hodgepodge of small
                         producing units, is scattered. These are poultry-keeping, greenhouses, or
                         mushroom-raising which often take place in building or multi-storeyed
                         Such activities do not correspond to the market-gardening or dairying as
                         suggested by Von Thunen. They are farm factories and are really industrial
                         forms of land use, though destined for early disappearance.
  2     Vacant and       It is mainly a zone of vacant land or land of temporary grazing. Where
        grazing          farmers leave much land empty to sell to speculators at the most lucrative
                         moment, and only allow grazing under short-term lease, i.e. any activities
                         are short-lived and extensive.
  3     Field crop and     It is a field crop and grazing zone. It is an area of transitional agriculture,
        grazing          where farming is carried on. Farmers do not wish to invest capital. Hired
                         labour is expensive. It is more profitable to find jobs in city than to work
                         on farms. Farming, therefore, tends to be extensive.
  4     Dairying and     It is a broad zone of dairying and field crops. The zone is outside the price
        field crop       mechanism of the city in terms of land use being influenced by anticipated
                         urbanization. It is within the city’s influence in a marketing sense because
                         it constitutes the major part of fresh milkshed of the metropolitan area.
  5     Specialized feed It is a zone of specialized feed-grain livestock (e.g. the Corn Belt). The
        grain livestock economy of the farms is not under the direct influence of the metropolitan
                         area. It continues to serve, and be influenced by a national market.

Evaluation on Sinclair’s Model
Sinclair’s model stress on the influence of the anticipation of urban encroachment, therefore, it is applicable to
areas under rapid urban expansion and near to urban centres.
Urban expansion is usually found to be chaotic and irregular, therefore, concentric rings in Sinclair’s model is
unlikely to be found.
Other than a competitor of land use, urban still act as a major market of agricultural products. Therefore,
intensive market gardening can still commonly be found near to urban fringe.
In continental scale, the friction of distance and distance decay are found to be more significant than
anticipation of urban encroachment because most area is far away from urban areas and out of the urban
influence. E.g. the agricultural land use pattern in Continental Europe.
Just like von Thunen’s model, Sinclair’s model also relies heavily on market forces and tend to ignore
institutional factors. For example, the state may reserve a large proportion of agricultural lands for grain
production for national security reasons. (The policy of China in 1960’s)
Also the designation of green belts in the urban-rural-fringe could discourage the speculative activities
referred by Sinclair and help preserve agricultural lands.(The green belt around Greater Tokyo)
Protective tariffs and import quotas also restrict the development of international regional specialisation and
world-wide market described by Sinclair. (Financial subsidies on farming in Western Europe)
Collective farming in Communist countries
The perception of farmers is an important factor which is neglected by Sinclair. In Hong Kong, intensive
market gardening and abandoned land can be found next to each other. The decision making of different
individual farmers then become a more important factor.
Von Thunen and Sinclair Models
                                 Von Thunen Models                       Sinclair Models
Assumption / conditions        isolated states                   world-wide market
                               one market                        mass production and
                               uniform plain                       transportation urbanization
                               economic man                        and expansion of
                               perfect competition                 metropolitian area
                               backward transport                uniform plain
                                                                  economic men
                                                                  advanced and improved
                                                                    transport & technology
                                                                  change of dietary habit for
                                                                    more fresh, expensive and
                                                                    exotic food
Cropping pattern               horticulture                      urban farming
                               wood                              vacant and grazing
                               6-year rotation                   field crop and grazing
                               7-year rotation                   dairying and field crop
                               3-field system                    specialized feed grain livestock
                               stock farming
Production methods           production intensity decreases  production intensity increase
                               with increasing distance from    with increasing from the
                               market                           metropolitian area
Key concepts                 locational /economic rent           competition of land for urban
                             distance decay relationship           uses
                                                                  value of agricultural landuse
                                                                  locational rent of urban and
                                                                    agricultural uses
                                                                  distance increase relationship
Modifications                small town as another market
                             navigable river
                             zones of fertile land
               farmer's preference
               government etc.
Application    Real world examples:                    Real world examples:
                  hill villages in the Mediterranean       metropolitian areas of US
                  lands of Europe                          Midwest
                                                        Difficulties:
                  Intensity of agriculture in
                                                        oversimplification of
                  Europe in 50's and 60's
               Difficulties:                           pattern of urban sprawl
               oversimplified                          dynamic nature of agricultural
               outdated                                 land use
               fail to recognize the role of           government policy
                government                        Applicability in Hong Kong
               fail to include behavior factors
               Applicability in Hong Kong

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