The model for land use proposed by economist Johann Heinrich Von Thunen has modern relevance as a depiction of an ideal state of agricultural geography. In less developed societies it can be used more or less as-is and adapted to the particular market circumstances. In modern manufacturing societies, it can be modified to accommodate more complex exigencies.
In brief, the Von Thunen model posits a centrally located city in an isolated state, a situation that would be unrealistic in modern terms. However, Von Thunen created his model in the early nineteenth century, when there were no modern conveniences such as refrigeration and motorized transport vehicles. This ideally isolated city would be immediately surrounded by flat land without rivers or mountains, and beyond the cultivated land would be wilderness. Climate and soil quality remain consistent, and the aim of farmers is to maximize profit.
According to Von Thunen, there would be a pattern of four rings outside the city. In the ring nearest the city, farmers would produce fruit, vegetables, milk, and other dairy products that would have to be quickly transported to the city before they spoil. In the second ring would be timber for building and firewood, because timber is very heavy and difficult to transport. In the third ring would be crops such as grains, which do not spoil as easily and can take longer to reach the city. In the fourth ring livestock would be raised, because livestock can be led into the city on their own power to be butchered for food or sold.
We can see by this model that it would not often be relevant to modern land use exactly as it is laid out. Accommodation has to be made for topographical irregularities, soil degradation, nearby communities, and the assistance of modern innovations for communication and transportation. However, its value lies in its example of a cost efficient ideal. It takes into account the costs of transportation and land in relation to markets. From this model, adaptations can be made to adjust to specific local circumstances.