Agricultural is an economic activity that have the right to be found practiced all roughly the world. German geographer Johann Heinrich von Thünen created one the the first geographical models related to agricultural land use.

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The vonThünenmodel of agricultural land use was produced in 1826, which was initially arisen prior to significant industrialization found in Europe and also elsewhere.

Johann Heinrich Von Thünen (24 June 1783 – 22 September 1850) to be a farmer, landowner, and also economic who created perhaps the very first known spatial financial model ~ above land rental using monitorings he had experienced. It remained in the very first book of his writing The secluded State (1826), the Von Thünen developed the first major conversation of spatial economics and also economic geography, linking it come the rent theory.

The von Thünen agricultural model was an effort to price the problem of balancing the expense of land leas with the most effective plants to grow.

Portrait that J. H. Von Thünen by Wilhelm Ternite. Black and white picture of the painting. The initial portrait hangs in the Thünen-Museum-Tellow in Mecklenberg, Germany

Von Thünen’s Model and also Assumptions

Created prior to industrialization, Von Thünen’s vital assumptions in the classical model are:

1) a city is centrally located in one “isolated state,” 2) one of the neighboring areas approximately a town is wilderness, 3) soil is normally flat, 4) soil quality and climate space consistent, 5) farmers transport products to a sector using greatly carts, and 6) farmers behave rationally in picking where come conduct their activities.

There space generally 4 main circles roughly the city that consist, native nearest come a town and moving outwards, of:1) intense farming, 2) forest lands, 3) substantial farming, and also 4) grazing. Rental prices for land space high close to a city. The design generally describes variation of soil rent and market activity of a region around towns.


While in plenty of respects the design seems out of date, and also not to cite focused heavily on a limited type of city or city with a neighboring landscape an ext reminiscent of main Europe, over there are key concepts relevant for modern spatial economics.

For one, distance to market for provided goods does have actually a relationship with profitability, whichvon Thünen’s design demonstrates clearly. This makes the model extensively applicable for commodities created close to a market, reflecting that products made near a town have a potential to be more profitable, although even here a modern-day globalized world method for given commodities distant labor might lower prices.

In enhancement to grain agriculture, the theory does have actually applicability to modern-day grazing land usage practices. For circumstances in Brazil, it was found that floor use close to marketplaces that prioritized meat manufacturing led to an ext intense land use and higher demand because that forested land, top to better deforestation close to cities in particular.<1>

A diverse farming landscape in the western part of Minas Gerais state in Brazil. Sunflowers, wheat, potatoes, coffee, rice, soybeans, and also corn are among the assets of the region. Photo: International space Station, NASA, publicly domain.

Similarly, land use intensification does appear to have a partnership in nations where farming and grazing beat a prominent role in the economy.<2>Other forestry models have also found applicability ofvon Thünen’s ideasin balancing soil management and also determining economic benefit from forestry, where rental income can be merged with ecosystem organization models come create much more sustainable forestry manufacturing models.<3>

While the applicability of the classicvon Thünenmodel appears, in ~ times, relevant for various contexts, in general, and particularly for very industrial economies, modifications of the classical model have end up being the norm. This consists of the use of multivariate and also multi-scale ideologies that additionally incorporate varied topography quite than pure flat regions. Such viewpoints account because that varied financial use as well as connectivity the towns through the wider regional and worldwide economy.<4>Heterogeneous agents influence land use practices and also events, if hierarchical formation and advancement of urban systems, have become an essential focus areas today because that spatial economists in help to describe urban and also landscape dynamics.<5>

Interestingly,von Thünen’s timeless land usage model has applicability to different contexts uncovered today. While the is the case, there are additionally multiple limitations to von Thünen’s principles that contemporary land use economic models attempt to address. The longevity the the model, and also the fact it is frequently still offered as a communication of analysis, does make it not only the first true spatial economic model yet it continues to accumulate researchers to construct methods that resolve its limitations.


<1>For more on a current use of vonThünenconcepts on floor use techniques in modern grazing in Brazil, see:Fontes, F., Palmer, C., 2018. “Land Sparing” in a von Thünen Framework: Theory and also Evidence native Brazil. Land economics 94, 556–576.

<2>For an ext on soil use impacts using vonThünenconcepts in Mozambique , see:Smith, H.E., Ryan, C.M., Vollmer, F., Woollen, E., Keane, A., Fisher, J.A., Baumert, S., Grundy, I.M., Carvalho, M., Lisboa, S.N., Luz, A.C., Zorrilla-Miras, P., Patenaude, G., Ribeiro, N., Artur, L., Mahamane, M., 2019. Results of land use intensification on human being wellbeing: proof from countryside Mozambique. Worldwide Environmental adjust 59, 101976.

<3>For much more on the usage of vonThünenin forestry, see:Roos, A., Eggers, J., Mark-Herbert, C., Lindhagen, A., 2018. Making use of von Thünen rings and also service-dominant logic in balancing woodland ecosystem services. Floor Use policy 79, 622–632.

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<4>For an ext on multi-scale and multi-variet models for land use, see:Salvati, L., 2014. Agro-forest landscape and the ‘fringe’ city: A multivariate assessment of land-use alters in a sprawling an ar and implications for planning. Science of The full Environment 490, 715–723.