is a large-scale estate, generally centered on a plantation house
, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops
. The crops that are grown include cotton
, sugar cane
, oil seeds
, oil palms
, fruits, rubber trees
and forest trees. Protectionist
policies and natural comparative advantage
have sometimes contributed to determining where plantations are located.
Among the earliest examples of plantations were the latifundia
of the Roman Empire
, which produced large quantities of grain, wine and olive oil for export. Plantation agriculture grew rapidly with the increase in international trade and the development of a worldwide economy
that followed the expansion of European colonialism
plantation in the United States
A tree plantation, forest plantation
, plantation forest or timber plantation is a forest planted for high volume production of wood, usually by planting one type of tree as a monoculture forest.
Plantation forestry a high volume of wood in a short period of time. Plantations are grown by state forestry authorities (for example, the Forestry Commission
in Britain) and/or the paper and wood industries and other private landowners (such as Weyerhaeuser
and Sierra Pacific Industries
in the United States or Asia Pulp & Paper
in Indonesia). Christmas trees
are often grown on plantations, and in southern and southeastern Asia, teak
plantations have recently replaced the natural forest.
Industrial plantations are actively managed for the commercial production of forest products. Industrial plantations are usually large-scale. Individual blocks are usually even-aged and often consist of just one or two species. These species can be exotic or indigenous. The plants used for the plantation are often genetically altered for desired traits such as growth and resistance to pests and diseases in general and specific traits, for example in the case of timber species, volumic wood production and stem straightness. Forest genetic resources
are the basis for genetic alteration. Selected individuals grown in seed orchards
are a good source for seeds to develop adequate planting material.
Wood production on a tree plantation is generally higher than that of natural forests. While forests managed for wood production commonly yield between 1 and 3 cubic meters per hectare per year, plantations of fast-growing species commonly yield between 20 and 30 cubic meters or more per hectare annually; a Grand Fir
plantation at in Scotland
has a growth rate of 34 cubic meters per hectare per year (Aldhous & Low 2020), and Monterey Pine
plantations in southern Australia
can yield up to 40 cubic meters per hectare per year (Everard & Fourt 1974). In 2000, while plantations accounted for 5% of global forest, it is estimated that they supplied about 35% of the world's roundwood.
Farm and home
Farm or home plantations are typically established for the production of timber and fire wood for home use and sometimes for sale. Management may be less intensive than with Industrial plantations. In time, this type of plantation can become difficult to distinguish from naturally regenerated forest.
Teak and bamboo plantations in India have given good results and an alternative crop solution to farmers of central India, where conventional farming was popular. But due to rising input costs of farming many farmers have done teak and bamboo plantations which require very little water (only during first two years). Teak and bamboo have legal protection from theft. Bamboo, once planted, gives output for 50 years till flowering occurs. Teak requires 20 years to grow to full maturity and fetch returns.
These may be established for watershed or soil protection. They are established for erosion control, landslide stabilization and windbreaks. Such plantations are established to foster native species and promote forest regeneration on degraded lands as a tool of environmental restoration
Probably the single most important factor a plantation has on the local environment is the site where the plantation is established. If natural forest is cleared for a planted forest then a reduction in biodiversity
and loss of habitat
will likely result. In some cases, their establishment may involve draining wetlands
to replace mixed hardwoods
that formerly predominated with pine species. If a plantation is established on abandoned agricultural land, or highly degraded land, it can result in an increase in both habitat and biodiversity. A planted forest can be profitably established on lands that will not support agriculture or suffer from lack of natural regeneration.
The tree species used in a plantation is also an important factor. Where non-native varieties or species are grown, few of the native fauna are adapted to exploit these and further biodiversity loss
occurs. However, even non-native tree species may serve as corridors
for wildlife and act as a buffer for native forest, reducing edge effect
Once a plantation is established, how it is managed becomes the important environmental factor. The single most important factor of management is the rotation period. Plantations harvested on longer rotation periods (30 years or more) can provide similar benefits to a naturally regenerated forest managed for wood production, on a similar rotation. This is especially true if native species are used. In the case of exotic species, the habitat can be improved significantly if the impact is mitigated by measures such as leaving blocks of native species in the plantation, or retaining corridors of natural forest. In Brazil, similar measures are required by government regulation
Sugar plantations were highly valued in the Caribbean by the British and French colonists in the 17th and 18th centuries and the use of sugar in Europe rose during this period. Sugarcane is still an important crop in Cuba. Sugar plantations also arose in countries such as Barbados and Cuba because of the natural endowments that they had. These natural endowments included soil that was conducive to growing sugar and a high marginal product of labor realized through the increasing number of enslaved people.
agriculture is rapidly expanding across wet tropical regions, and is usually developed at plantation scale.
are sometimes considered to be plantations.
Before the rise of cotton in the American South, indigo
were also sometimes called plantation crops.
Harvesting tea in Bogor, West Java
was colonized by England
in 1610, the original colonists were called "Planters" and their fishing rooms were known as "fishing plantations". These terms were used well into the 20th century.
Other fishing plantations:
- Bristol's Hope Plantation, a 17th-century fishing plantation established at Harbour Grace, created by the Bristol Society of Merchant-Adventurers.
- Benger Plantation, an 18th-century fishing plantation maintained by James Benger and his heirs at Ferryland. It was built on the site of Georgia plantation.
- Piggeon's Plantation, an 18th-century fishing plantation maintained by Ellias Piggeon at Ferryland.
Plantation slave economy
1913 photo: African-Americans picking cotton on a plantation in the South
African slave labour
was used extensively to work on early plantations (such as tobacco, rice, cotton, and sugar plantations) in the American colonies and the United States, throughout the Caribbean, the Americas, and in European-occupied areas of Africa.
In modern times, the low wages typically paid to plantation workers are the basis of plantation profitability in some areas.
In more recent times, overt slavery has been replaced by para-slavery
, including the sharecropping system
. At its most extreme, workers are in "debt bondage
": they must work to pay off a debt at such punitive interest rates that it may never be paid off. Others work unreasonably long hours and are paid subsistence wages that (in practice) may only be spent in the company store
In Brazil, a sugarcane plantation was termed an engenho
("engine"), and the 17th-century English usage for organized colonial production was "factory." Such colonial social and economic structures are discussed at Plantation economy
The Seward Plantation is a historic Southern plantation-turned-ranch in Independence, Texas
, United States.
Today, as was also true in the past, there is a wide range of opinion as to what differentiated a plantation from a farm
. Typically, the focus of a farm was subsistence agriculture
. In contrast, the primary focus of a plantation was the production of cash crops
, with enough staple food
crops produced to feed the population of the estate and the livestock.
A common definition of what constituted a plantation is that it typically had 500 to 1,000 acres (2.0 to 4.0 km2
) or more of land and produced one or two cash crops for sale.
Other scholars have attempted to define it by the number of enslaved persons.
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