When Agricultural Landscapes Become Patchwork Quilts

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  • Image: bagting

    Patchwork quilt or checkers board? Circular fields watered by center pivot irrigation make up much of this elaborate pattern, photographed on a flight from New York to Las Vegas, somewhere in the American Midwest.

    Running carefree through a summery field… It’s the kind of image commonly associated with pleasant childhood memories. However, as we will soon see, fields can look idyllic from all angles – not least from above. Such pastures come in all colors, shapes and sizes; and when seen next to one another, with the benefit of an aerial view, they often seem to make up patchwork quilts. Mother Nature becomes something of a darner – helped, of course, by more than a stitch or two from the hand of human cultivation. Join us as we let our imaginations run wild (as our legs did when we were children!) and take in a bird’s eye view of 15 of the most stunning patchwork quilt landscapes the world has to offer.

  • Image: Abstract landscape, aerial view of colorful field image from Bigstock

    The patchwork of adjacent agricultural plots becomes especially colorful when the land is segmented into strips in what we might guess are lavender or tulip fields. What a beautiful image! Rarely have different shades of purple and green looked so sumptuous together!

  • Image: Fields image from Bigstock

    These agricultural fields make up an earthier looking quilt. It’s stunning to see how the different ways in which the land has been worked can create such different textures. All woolen ones, mind you, set off by white ‘seams’ and ‘buttons’ – beautifully represented by the country roads and buildings.

  • Image: Aerial photo of farmland image from Bigstock

    Here, we have a textbook quilt with earthy brown, yellow and green patches. The irregular parts, made up by what look like roads, lanes and woodland, add to the charm of this ‘quilt’.

  • Image: Bird’s eye view mid-west United States image from Bigstock

    This view from a higher altitude provides a more intricate piece of patchwork, consisting of a grid of larger squares many of which are neatly divided into smaller ones. Mix in the calming quality of the brown, beige and green tones, and you have an excellent model to work from for a real quilt!

  • Image: Aerial image of agricultural fields and fragmented farming land image from Bigstock

    Those who like patterns to be even more regular will love this next ‘quilt’, which is made up of roughly equal-sized light green squares alongside dark green patches we might think of as ‘woollen’. Hard to believe that this is not an actual patchwork blanket but fields bordered by trees!

  • Image: Pivot farming image from Bigstock

    A good example of what’s known as center pivot irrigation can be seen in this next ‘patchwork’, spread over hilly, arid terrain in the American Southwest. The advantage of this form of sprinkler irrigation is that it can be used almost anywhere, on practically all types of land. The pivot point is found at the center of the field and feeds water to the rest of the system – segments of pipe with sprinklers positioned along them – which is then rotated in an arc, creating the recognizable circular patterns.

  • Image: Field image from Bigstock

    With its light colors, this image of a field somewhere in Poland creates what we reckon looks like a quilt that’s perfect for keeping warm during chilly spring nights. The long, mainly pale beige rectangles are accentuated by light and dark green oblongs, while three lonely trees break up the monotony – like snagged threads.

  • Image: Aerial of crops image from Bigstock

    This patchwork landscape – a bird’s eye view of agricultural cropland in Arizona – seems to aspire to be an abstract painting. (We’re thinking a Rothko; what do you reckon?) With their frayed edges, the rectangular strips of field at the bottom look as though they were created with a swift stroke of the brush. Meanwhile, the texture of the four other dark-colored fields is reminiscent of tightly woven wool, while the beige field up top could be velour – or at least something equally soft.

  • Image: Road through farmland image from Bigstock

    This rich brown and beige combination is interesting because of the striped patterns – visible in the middle of this ‘quilt’ of cultivated farmland. The road running diagonally across, meanwhile, seems to be, well, a seam!

  • Image: Sean Hill

    This patchwork of fields found in the vicinity of Bangkok is spectacular in its regularity. A neat beige border surrounds each dark green, light green or brown patch, and even what look like human settlements add something to the whole. Who could say no to a pattern like this?

  • Image: Erica Mulherin

    It’s not often that one finds stunning fields that are colored blue, but when it happens, they can make for one amazing patchwork – as we can see here. In Britain, at least, there are not too many plants with blue flowers that are cultivated commercially – apart from flax, borage and lavender. This aerial shot, however, was taken over Washington in the USA, so it could be some other crop. Any guesses? Whatever plants are being grown, we reckon you’d have to be lucky to see such a spectacular display from the air every day!

  • Image: Phil Dowsing

    This stunning patchwork quilt of fields was snapped just north of San Francisco. We love the way the beige and green squares meet in the middle, creating an interesting contrast.

  • Image: Philippe Semanaz

    Ochre, grays and peach colors dominate in this patchwork design, which was photographed over Guizhou, China. We especially like the terraces, which make the whole quilt look very textured indeed. Brilliant design for a sweater too!

  • Image: bagting

    Last but not least, we’ve got a truly stunning design that shows what happens when nature and man seem to work hand in hand: pivot circles appear alongside the square patches of other fields, as well as natural geographical features that snake their way, flame-like, through the design of ochre colors, grays and greens. Photographer Bagting was reminded of a sliding block puzzle by this aerial snap, but we’re sticking to our guns and saying patchwork quilt… Stunning!

    Considering the fact that about 11% of all the land on Earth is arable (that is, land that can or is being used to grow crops) one might assume that the patchwork quilts we have just seen are here to stay. Or maybe not, given that while one third of the world’s workers earn their livelihood in agriculture, the sector contributes less than five percent to the total gross product of all the world’s countries combined. Still, whatever the facts of the situation, we’ll gladly look at these images again. And again.

    Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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Simone Preuss
Simone Preuss
Scribol Staff
Art and Design
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