Land is mostly defined as the uppermost layer of the earth’s crust on which agricultural and non-agricultural activities are carried out. It also includes water bodies, air and rock. Land refers to all free gift of nature.
CHARACTERISTICS OF LAND
i) Land is a Free Gift of Nature: This means that land did not exist as a result of human action.
ii) It is Immobile and Limited in Supply: This implies that land can not be moved from one location to another and it size can not be increased. Land is fixed in supply.
iii) It includes water, air, soil, rock, minerals, natural vegetation and animal life.
iv) Suitable for agricultural production. Land naturally supports the growth of plants and animals.
USES OF LAND
i) For Crop Production: All crops are grown on land such as cassava, yam, rice, beans, apple and so on.
ii) Wild Life Conservation / Game: Certain areas of the earth surface are protected from farming and hunting activities of man. Farmers are not allowed to cultivate or hunt in such an environment. They are reserved for recreation by tourist.
iii) For Live Stock Production: Poultry, pigpen and cattle ranch are built on land. Land support animal rearing.
i) Industrial Purposes: Factories are built on land where production takes place. Crude oil from which petroleum, gas, grease, Vaseline are gotten is also gotten from the land.
ii) Construction of Housing: Human shelters are built on land. By extension, materials for building lands are also gotten form land.
iii) Transportation: All means of transportation are dependent on land be it railway, airports, roads and tube.
iv) Commercial Purposes: Banks, government offices and markets are built on land for carrying out transactions.
FACTORS AFFECTING LAND AVAILABILITY FOR AGRICULTURAL PURPOSES
i) Soil Type: Soil has varieties and different uses. Certain soil cannot be used for planting like sandy soil which are found in desert while the best soil for planting is loamy soil. In areas where most of the soil are sandy, fewer portion will be available for farming.
ii) Topography: Topography is the shape and features of the earth. A sloppy land cannot be good for planting.
iii) Land Degradation: This refers to deterioration in the nutrients value of the land. Some causes are desertification or desert encroachment, this will negatively affect availability of land for farming.
iv) Soil Pollution: Soil pollution arises out of uncontrolled discharge of chemical waste onto the land resulting in the deaths of all the nutritional value of the land. If such wastes are discharged into water, all fish and other animals relying on the water will be killed or diminished.
v) Prevalent Land Tenure System: The communal system of land tenure where lands are held communally makes it difficult for farmers to get a larger portion of land for planting.
vi) Rate of growth of the population: Increase in population will require more housing thereby reducing land availability for planting.
ECONOMIC FACTORS AFFECTING LAND AVAILABILITY FOR AGRICULTURAL PURPOSES
i) Population Pressure: Countries with a very large population size will most likely have a smaller portion of land for farming. This is so because more portion land will be needed for planting.
ii) Expansion of Industries: Industrial expansion will results in reduction of farm activities, more lands will be needed to build factories and increased labour will be needed in the industry as against farming.
iii) Mining/mineral Exploitation: Mining and mineral exploitation have drastically affected land availability for farming. For example, crude oil exploration leads to oil pollution which renders the surrounding environment useless for farming.
iv) Recreation/Tourism: Countries which favours tourism will have the need to create reservation areas, build hotels. This impacts negatively on farming.
i) Land Tenure System: In developing countries where lands are held communally, it impacts negatively on land availability for farming.
ii) Religious Purpose (church, mosques and shrine): Religious centres are growing at astronomical rate in developing countries. Portions of land which ought to have been dedicated for plantation are being sold to religious organizations to build churches or mosque.