Types of Farming
In the Standard Grade Geography exam there are three types of farming you need to know about − arable, livestock and mixed.
• Arable farms are ones where the main way of making money is by growing crops • Livestock farms are where animals are the important part of the farm • Mixed farms are where animals and crops are both important to the farmer
Only British examples are used in the exam questions.
Inputs, Outputs and Processes
Inputs are what go into the farm. There are two types of input. The natural or physical inputs include weather, climate, relief (height, shape and aspect), soil, geology and latitude. Farmers have little or no control over these. Changing the natural inputs can sometimes be done but it usually involves a lot of expense. For example areas with not enough rainfall get water from irrigation schemes, steep slopes can be cut into terraces and the climate can be greatly altered by using greenhouses.
Examples of human inputs include machinery, fertiliser, pesticides, seeds, livestock, animal feed, workers and buildings. These usually have to be paid for, although farmers can save some money by producing some of these themselves, e.g. grass is grown as a fodder crop and animals are bred. Outputs are what the farm produces e.g. grains, eggs, milk, meat etc. Processes are the types of work that are carried out on the farming. It varies with the type of farm e.g. ploughing, seeding and harvesting are important on an arable farm, whereas a major activity is milking on a dairy (livestock) farm.
Farms as Businesses
Like shops and factories, a farm is a business. Like all other business it has to make money to survive. Its profits are made when the money the farmer makes by selling his or her outputs is more than is spent on the inputs. Like other business people farmers want to make a substantial profit. Most of the recent changes in farming can be explained by the farmer's desire for a good profit.
Types of Farming
Arable farms are mainly found in the eastern side of the U.K. Here the land is lower and flatter, the soil more fertile and the climate drier and sunnier. The ten main crops grown in Britain in 1996 were
Vegetables grown in the open
Oats and Other Cereals
Other crops not for stock feeding
All figures are in 1,000 hectares.
Source The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
In Britain the location of livestock farms depends on the main animal that is being kept. Sheep are usually found in the upland areas. They are suited to these parts as • Sheep are hardier (tougher) than other animals, and can cope with the colder, wetter and windier conditions
• They are more surefooted than cattle, so don't mind the steep slopes • The land certainly can't be used for arable farming
Dairy cattle are more common in the wetter west of Britain as the heavier rainfall helps in the milk production. Lowland areas are favoured as these have warmer temperatures. The south−west of England and Ayrshire in Scotland are particularly suited as the mild winters mean a longer growing season, which in turn means the farmers are less reliant on providing winter feed for the cattle. Dairy farms are also located nearer the larger settlements. This was important in the past when transport was slower and milk needed to get to the market quickly to still be fresh. This location is less important today with refrigerated transport.
The total number of the different types on animals were (1995) Cattle
Fowls (chickens and hens)
Ducks and geese
All figures are for 1,000 animals.
Source The Ministry of Agriculture,...