Thursday, 31 January 2008

"Georgia on my mind"



Yesterday Mark made a sortie into Georgia and added a 'bonus' state to our American experience! However, as his transit through the state will be brief, I will dispense with the temptation to 'do' Georgia in an evening and leave you to follow the link above to Wikipedia (which may well take you all evening to read anyway!)

Now, have you been paying attention these last six weeks? Look at the map of the US states - can you name in sequence all the states which Mark has passed through? It seems easy to me now but if I'm honest, I don't know if I'd have got them all right six weeks ago. Shame on me but then, that's not what we 'do' in geography classrooms these days. If you've been following the Geo Blog along the route or even just delving into it now and again, I really hope you have gained an impression of what a varied and interesting classroom subject it is these days. 'Geography is everywhere' is a truism which Mark's trip has certainly shown. Over the last six months have looked at a whole range of physical and human geography topics with a bit of environmental geography thrown in here and there for good measure. In the last few days alone the topics have ranged through hurricanes, coastal features, weather, beach resorts, forestry, rivers. And today, from a quick look at the route Mark took yesterday, the focus is definitely on land use....

As Mark cycled through the north of Florida on Tuesday, the landscape was dominated by both state managed and commercial forests. Over the border and into Georgia, that theme continues along the valley of the Flint river towards Bainbridge. Closer inspection reveals this to be an area of well managed forest. The trees are in clear 'stands' of similar aged/species of tree, there are clear felled areas with patches of trees left for habitat conservation and there are some area of young trees (in rows) on the left of the image.
There is also a mysterious line cutting right through the forest. My first thoughts on this were that as it is about 40m wide, it could be a fire break and then I zoomed in for a good look and spotted these....



so on second thoughts I wonder if the cleared line serves two purposes - fire break and power line route.

Meanwhile to the west of the river valley and further north beyond Bainbridge, a completely new form of land use is appearing .....
Mile upon mile of pivot irrigation circles. Although we have seen these at many locations along Mark's route - notably in Iran, Australia, New Zealand and western USA, I don't think I've ever seen densities like these. Their presence suggests that although this area receives about 1300mm of rain (that's about equivalent to west central Scotland), the high levels of evapotranspiration because of high summer temperatures will reduce the efficacy of the precipitation and so necessitate irrigation.

A bit of research has produced a figure of just over 3 million acres of cultivated land in Georgia, half of which is irrigated. As for the likely crops... well, if Las Cruces way back in New Mexico was the centre of pecan production, this part of Georgia specialises in peanuts. The long growing season (275 days) means that cultivation is almost a year round activity and many farmers can produce more than one crop from their land in a year. In addition to peanuts, the farmers of south west Georgia produce a huge range of vegetables as described here. That last link produced another which finally led to the information I wanted....

"Nearly 10,000 of these center-pivot irrigation systems cover 1 million acres of productive farmland in south Georgia. Tapping the deep, pure waters of the Upper Floridan aquifer, their wells pump not only water but also dollars into the region. The additional growth of high-quality peanuts, sweet corn, cotton and animal feeds, made possible as these irrigation systems fill in rainfall gaps, means dollars for the local economy." And here is you want to read it is the source.
It makes for a most interesting pattern of land use right alongside the route which Mark followed yesterday. From ground level, however, the view would have been more like this field of peanuts being irrigated by centre pivot irrigation.....












Hopeful - what a lovely name for the furthest north spot that Mark reached in Georgia! Turn right and head south and east and the land use changes again. There is still cultivation but less irrigation...

Having then crossed the well wooded valley of the Ochlockonee, the last GPS 'fix' yesterday was just north of Thomasville which you can enjoy a flavour of below...

1 comment:

ateddygirl said...

Hi Mrs V
I am going to sound like an old fuddy duddy now, but your comment about 'this is not how we do Geography now' made me wince! I think it is such a shame that children are supposed to pick up by osmosis WHERE in the world a country, state or even an English (or Scottish!) county is. (A friend of mine's son thought he would return from Vancouver to England before going on to New Zealand because it was a shorter route! He's 20!!)
I am finding your comments fascinating and am totally hooked on the sight, and agree that human- and physical-geography are both fascinating. But surely knowing the whereabouts of a place is the first part of the jigsaw?