Saturday, 20 September 2014

Regional Geography - Primary Economic Activities in the Western Region

 Primary Economic Activities in the Western Region

For this essay farming and fishing are two primary economic activities that can be used if it asked for two ( but it does not have to be 50/50 split between them. If asked for one then write in detail on farming. Physical landscape and climate are two factors which impact on the primary economic activity.
If writing about both economic activities shorten the farming part as it is not all needed.

One peripheral region in Ireland that I have studied is the Western region. In this region primary economic activities such as farming and fishing are of the up-most importance.

In the area of agriculture the physical landscape impacts greatly on the type of farming carried out. Roscommon does have large areas of lowland but much of it is poorly suited to agriculture as it is covered in shallow brown earths, which is not deep enough for good crop growth. Other areas are covered in grey and podzol which are too acidic and prone to water-logging. This means that there is very little tillage farming. Most land is used as pasture land for beef stock. In Mayo and Galway the topography (landscape) is best described as hilly. Galway as mountains such as Sleeve Aughty and the Twelve Pins. Mayo has the Ox and Nephan beg ranges. The soil in these areas is described as peaty. This is very poor land for crop growth as the soil is acid ridge and boggy and the slopes are too steep. The most common type of agriculture practiced is the grazing of sheep. In the east of Galway there is some brown earths but they are over limestone and are very shallow. As such they dry out quickly in summer and farmers are again limited to pastural farming. As a result of the western regions landscape and soil, less than 2 percent of the land is used for tillage crops.

Ireland's climate is described as cool temperate oceanic. However it is slightly more harsh in the Western Region, the main difference is in terms of temperature as Dublin's average summer temperate is 2 degrees hotter than the western region (16 degrees Vs 14 degrees). This affects agriculture as there is a shorter growing season as soil temperature needs to be 4 degrees before growth will take place. This temperature is more often reached in the east rather than the west. Precipitation is also higher in the west than the east. The West receives 2000mm of rain per year, compared to 1000mm on the Dublin Region. These levels are too high for successful crop growth. This leads to boggy, water-logged soil that is not suited to tillage farming.

Extra agriculture facts
  • Farming is vital to the west but it is generally ineffective - it is labour intensive with a poor return.
  • 30% of farms in the west are under 10 hectares (25 acres)
  • 30% of farmers are over 65 - large percentage not pro-innovation, traditional methods
  • most farms survive on EU subsidies


  • Perfect location for fishing as it has a very indented coastline full of sheltered bays and harbours.
  • Plankton-rich waters due to the shallow continental shelf which is less than 200m deep resulting in large fish stocks
  • The Irish box - an area around Ireland where no one else has fishing rights
  • North Atlantic Drift (NAD) bring a mix of waters to the west coast therefore bringing a wide range of fish while also preventing harbours from freezing over in winter.
  • Recent development - aquaculture (fish farming) - growth industry - some fish farms in the west include salmon and shellfish including oysters and muscles - Galway Bay, clew bay, Kilary harbour
  • fish becoming more popular as people are more health conscious
  • despite all obvious benefits this primary activity is struggling (unattractive lifestyle, increasing EU laws, dangerous)

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