AP Human Geography Unit 5: Agricultural and Rural Land-Use Patterns and Processes Notes

August 1, 2021

There’s a lot of information to keep track of as you prepare for the AP Human Geography Exam. For effective, organized review, see our AP Human Geography Unit 5 summary and key terms below. 

AP Human Geography Unit 5 Summary

During the past 10,000 years, agriculture has become an endeavor of enormous proportions, with dramatic consequences for Earth’s physical and human geography. The first agriculturalists were hunter-gatherers who gradually, over thousands of years, adopted farming as another strategy to ensure their survival. By the beginning of the Colonial Period, agriculture was widespread throughout the world. Four important episodes—the first conscious cultivation of plants, the Industrial Revolution, the Green Revolution, and the Biotechnologic Revolution—have dramatically altered the way farmers work and the way people eat. In many countries, subsistence agriculture and animal husbandry still feed most people; however, large-scale commercial agriculture is an increasingly important endeavor throughout the world. Escalating human populations and unsustainable farming techniques have created a host of social and environmental problems that threaten the potential for future populations to reap sustainable harvests from the land.

AP Human Geography Unit 5 Key Terms

  • Agribusiness: The set of economic and political relationships that organize food production for commercial purposes. It includes activities ranging from seed production, to retailing, to consumption of agricultural products. 
  • Agriculture: The art and science of producing food from the land and tending livestock for the purpose of human consumption. 
  • Animal husbandry: An agricultural activity associated with the raising of domesticated animals, such as cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. 
  • Aquaculture: The cultivation or farming (in controlled conditions) of aquatic species, such as fish. In contrast to commercial fishing, which involves catching wild fish. 
  • Biotechnology: A form of technology that uses living organisms, usually genes, to modify products, to make or modify plants and animals, or to develop other microorganisms for specific purposes. 
  • Capital-intensive agriculture: Form of agriculture that uses mechanical goods, such as machinery, tools, vehicles, and facilities, to produce large amounts of agricultural goods—a process requiring very little human labor. 
  • Commercial agricultural economy: All agricultural activity generated for the purpose of selling, not necessarily for local consumption. 
  • Commodity chains: A linked system of processes that gather resources, convert them into goods, package them for distribution, disperse them, and sell them on the market. 
  • Dairying: An agricultural activity involving the raising of livestock, most commonly cows and goats, for dairy products such as milk, cheese, and butter. 
  • Desertification: The process by which formerly fertile lands become increasingly arid, unproductive, and desert-like. 
  • Domestication: The conscious manipulation of plant and animal species by humans in order to sustain themselves. 
  • Extensive agriculture: An agricultural system characterized by low inputs of labor per unit land area. 
  • Feedlots: Places where livestock are concentrated in a very small area and raised on hormones and hearty grains that prepare them for slaughter at a much more rapid rate than grazing; often referred to as factory farms. 
  • Fertile crescent: Area located in the crescent-shaped zone near the southeastern Mediterranean coast (including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey), which was once a lush environment and one of the first hearths of domestication and thus agricultural activity. 
  • Food security: People’s ability to access sufficient safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life. 
  • Genetically modified foods: Foods that are mostly products of organisms that have had their genes altered in a laboratory for specific purposes, such as disease resistance, increased productivity, or nutritional value, allowing growers greater control, predictability, and efficiency. 
  • Green Revolution: The development of higher-yield and fast-growing crops through increased technology, pesticides, and fertilizers transferred from the developed to developing world to alleviate the problem of food supply in those regions of the globe.

Check out our full AP Human Geography Unit 5 Notes.

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