The Von Thunen Model

The Von Thunen Model
AP Human Geography
Review: What is a model?
• Models are examples that help us better
understand a major concept or idea.
• Models are NOT exact and are flexible.
• Models are NOT perfect.
• Models might look different in reality than the
do in theory.
The Model, again.
Historical Background
• “A Portion of Each Crop is Eaten By the
Wheels!”- von Thunen. Germany, 1820’s.
• Developed by Johann Heinrich von Thunen in the
early 1800’s (19th century)
• Based on the layout of Rostock, Germany
• Noticed a pattern of 4 rings developed around
the central city.
– Each ring was a different type of agriculture.
• Created before highways, railroads, factories, etc.
The Big Idea!
• Farmers grow certain crops closer to the
market (aka central city) while others are
grown farther away.
• Why? It’s all about the Benjamin$, baby!
• Decision to grow certain crops in certain
places is based on profit.
The Formula
• Profit= Market Price – Production Costs
• Production costs include cost of labor, equipment, and
• Factor 1: The bulkier the product, the more it costs to
• Factor 2: The more perishable a product, the closer to the
market it has to be.
• Factor 3: The more land a product needs, the farther from
the central city it should be (land closer to city is more
• All of these must be considered when deciding what to
grow where!
Bid-Rent Curve
• As distance from city
center increases, cost of
land goes down.
The Rings
• Ring 1: Dairy/ Commercial Gardening
– Easily perishable goods
– Located too far, goods go bad, no profit
• Ring 2: Forest (building material/ fuel)
– Not perishable but very heavy!
• Ring 3: Extensive Crops (grains)
– Not as heavy as wood, can be stored for longer periods of time.
• Ring 4: Livestock
– Needs a lot of land
– Perishable once slaughtered, but animals can transport
• Beyond the rings: Wilderness
– Too far from city, to expensive to transport anything.
One last time.