Agricultural activity involves direct interaction with the physical environment factors in the environmental context in which the activity is developed. Galicia, northwest Spain, is an environmentally heterogeneous region that encompasses territorial spaces with different levels of suitability for each agricultural activity. In barely 30 years, the production systems of the region have evolved from self-sufficiency to commercial production; however, the requirements of production for each differ greatly. During such a transformation, many farms have disappeared while other farms have conformed to the requirements of the current production systems without changing location. Decision-making in rural planning requires knowing the spatial distribution of farms, the evolution of farm distribution and the relationship between the spatial location of farms (associated with some specific environmental characteristics) and the production systems used.
The current paper describes a methodology for analysing the spatial distribution of farms and for determining the relationships between the spatial location of farms and the values of the physical environment factors that are characteristic of each spatial location. The methodology has been developed by using Agricultural Census data and is exemplified through the analysis of two crops (wheat and potato) and one farming activity (dairy farming). Results show the location of farms and the production systems used, and reveal different degrees of fit to the physical environment factors considered.