How has farming changed? How have these changes affected the environment? What does it mean for the future of farming?
Machines have taken over many jobs on farms- making workers unemployed .
Machines are expensive to purchase but in the long term they save time and money.
Heavy machines can cause soil compaction- meaning soil is no longer suitable for growing crops.
Increased Field Size
The use of large machines e.g. combine harvesters has led to an increase in field size, which means the machines can be used more efficiently .
This has resulted in vast amount of hedgerow being cleared- causing a loss of habitat for wildlife and an increase in soil erosion.
Increased use of chemicals
As farms have become more intensive and commercial there has been a drive to grow as many crops as possible- maximising profits.
This has led to eutrophication in rivers/lakes and many are concerned about the impact chemicals have on their food and are turning instead to organic products.
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Organic farming is becoming more and more popular. Chemicals are not used in organic farming, therefore much less environmental damage is caused.
However prices of organic products are higher than traditionally farmed products and yields are lower.
The CAP led to a growth in production that eventually led to large food surpluses.
Set Aside and the Farm Woodland scheme encourage farmers to stop growing crops by offering grants.
The land then returns to it’s natural state, or trees can be planted to enhance the environment.
Countryside Stewardship Scheme
This recently established scheme encourages farmers to look after the countryside they own or manage.
They are paid up to £300 an acre to conserve and restore landscapes.
A common place for this to happen is in chalk grassland areas and coastal dunes.
Diversification is when farmers are encourages to develop activities out of farming to generate more income.
Some farms have developed camp sites, farm shops, bed and breakfasts, school tours etc to earn more money.
This, in some cases, is what keeps some farms in business as not enough income is generated from farming itself.
Example of Diversification on a Sheep farm. Bradley Farm, South-West Northumberland (Near Hadrian’s Wall). Farmer employed as a ‘learning officer’ for the National Trust. Accommodation for school visits. Farmer has a contract for cutting local school grass.