Farming 1- Definition: Farming or agriculture is the way that people produce food by growing crops and raising animals. 2- Elements: In many ways, a farm is just like a factory, and as such it can be studied as a system. The things that it needs to make it work are called inputs. What happens on the farm are its processes and what it produces are called outputs. A farmer may also feed back some of the outputs, such as profits, into the system. Inputs: Processes: Outputs: Physical inputs: • Ploughing. Crops: Climate: • Planting. • Wheat, barley, etc. • Temperatures. • Weeding, pest control. • Potatoes, vegetables. • Length of growing season. • Harvesting. • Tomatoes, flowers… • Precipitation. • Grazing. Animal products: Relief: • Lambing/calving. • Wool, milk, skins. • High or low. • Shearing/milking. • Beef, lamb mutton, pork. • Steep or flat. • Silage production. Animals: Soils: • Lambs, calves, piglets. • Deep or thin. • Chickens, turkeys. • Rich or poor. Profit or loss. Human inputs: • Labour. • Buildings. • Machinery and technology • Markets and transport. • Money (capital). Feedback: profit, manure, silage, animals… • Subsidies. • Seeds and animals breeds. • Pesticides, fertiliser, etc. In reality, farming is much more complex than the diagram suggests, with political, economic and environmental issues causing many problems for farmers. In a next epigraph we’ll study these issues. Farmers are decision makers. Physical factors. Economic conditions• Crops to grow. These decisions depend on Individual preferences• Animals to rear.• Traditions. Methods to use. Expertise. Political pressures.
Types of farms.All farms can be classified in three different ways, depending on their inputs,processes and outputs:Classification by inputs: • Intensive farming: These farms have large inputs of Money, labour and technology to achieve high outputs or yields per hectare. These farms are usually quite small. • Extensive farming: These farms are comparatively small inputs for large areas of land. They are usually found where conditions are poor, so it is not worth farmers putting a lot of money or work into the land.Classification by processes: • Arable farming is the ploughing of the land and growing of crops. • Pastoral farming is the leaving of land under grass and the rearing of animals. • Market gardening consists on growing fruit, flowers and vegetables under controlled conditions. • Mixed farming is when crops are grown and animals are reared in the same area.Classification by outputs: • Commercial: The outputs from these farms are mainly entirely for sale. • Subsistence: Subsistence farmers produce food for themselves and their family. There is rarely any profit or spare food.
Commercial farming. Commercial farming is the growing of crops and raising of animals inorder to make a profit. Most commercial farming takes place in the richer, moreeconomically developed regions such as Europe and North America. In recenttimes, farming in these areas has changed considerably and becomeincreasingly productive. Many of the changes have been a result of directives issued by theEuropean Union (EU). U.E. is determined to make Europe self-sufficient in food,and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is set up with the main aim ofincreasing the efficiency of farming. The CAP encouraged farmers to use thelatest advances in science and technology to produce more food. Increasedinvestment, a greater use of chemicals and the introduction of geneticallyimproved seeds and animals all helped to raise output. The CAP was very successful in making Europe self-sufficient andproviding a source of cheap and varied, quality foodstuffs. However, manypeople are now concerned that CAP policies have caused seriousenvironmental problems and threatened fragile environments. They also worrythat as the ED changes its policies to reduce surpluses, some farmers may beforced to change the land use on their farms or go out of business. Some changes in commercial farming:1- Mechanization: Machinery has taken over from manual labour on most farms. Machines like tractors and combine harvesters save time and money.2- Increased farm size: Many small farms have joined together to make bigger units. These are more efficient and are more likely to be abe to afford the costly equipment that is needed to increase yields and bring greater profits.3- Increased field size: The steady increase in the use and size of machines has brought about a need for bigger fields so that equipment may be used more efficiently. This has resulted in the removal of many hedgerows and a loss of habitats for birds and other small creatures.4- Increased use of chemicals: Farmers have become increasingly reliant on the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to improve the quality and quantity of their farm produce. Many people are concerned about the effect these chemicals may have on the environment and on the food itself.5- Organic farming: Is a form of food production without chemicals. Much less damage is done to the environment as fewer toxic chemicals are released into the soil or find their way into rivers. Prices are higher and yields are lower than for traditional farming.6- Natural environments: More efficient farming has led to a surplus of food
being produced. Then, some projects encourage farmers to stop growing crops by offering grants. The land may be returned to its natural state, or trees may be planted to enhance the landscape.7- Diversification: Farmers have been encouraged to develop business activities other than farming. The increased demand for rural leisure activities has helped farms become part of the tourist industry. Subsistence Farming. Subsistence farmers usually produce just enough food for their ownneeds. In good years there may be a small surplus which may be sold to buyother goods. Most subsistence farming takes place in the less economicallydeveloped regions of the world like Africa, the Amazon rainforest and India. Thepopulation of many of the poorer countries has been growing rapidly in recentyears. With so many extra mouths to feed, it has been essential to increasefood production at equally rapid rate. A variety of methods have been tried toachieve this. The Green Revolution was the name given to the introduction ofmodern farming methods to the poorer countries of the world in order toincrease their food production. Four of the main features of the GreenRevolution are:1- High-yield varieties: Developed countries provide money to develop high- yield varieties of rice, wheat and maize. a. Advantages: • Yields increased more than three times. • Possible to grow up to three crops a year. • Other crops grown which vary the diet. • Surplus food to sell in cities, creating profit. • Improved standard of living. b. Disadvantages: • Poorest farmers unable to afford machinery, fertilizer and pesticides required. • High-yield varieties need more water and fertilizer which is expensive. • Money borrowing put some farmers into debt. • Maintenance and fuel needed for machines is not always available.2- Irrigation: The monsoon rains are often unreliable and there has always been a need to irrigate the land in these regions. The amount of irrigation has increased because high-yield varieties need much more water than traditional varieties. Irrigation is mainly by wells, channels and reservoirs.3- Appropriate technology: This is technology suited to the needs, skills, knowledge and wealth of the local people. Examples include: • Individual wells with simple, easy-to-maintain pumps. • Renewable energy sources that use local resources such as wind,
solar power and biogas. • Projects that use labour rather than machinery. • Low-cost schemes which are sustainable and not harmful for the environment.4- Land reform: In many poorer countries, farm-holdings are very small and broken up into tiny plots that are spread over a wide area. This makes efficient farming difficult. The majority of farmland is also held by a few wealthy landowners. Many of the poorer farm labourers have no land at all and suffer great poverty. The aim of land reform is to: • increase farm size for small landowners, • set an upper limit on the amount of land owned by the wealthiest landowners • give surplus land to the landless farm labourers. The use of new farming methods in the less developed countries hascertainly increased production. Fewer people now suffer from food shortages,and more nutritious foods have become available. The resultant changes in diethave helped to improve peoples health and raise their quality of life. There have been problems, however. The Green Revolution brings with ita type of commercial farming that may not be appropriate to the economicallydeveloping world. It relies on large inputs of chemicals that damage theenvironment and which few small farmers can afford. The benefits go to moreprosperous farmers who can buy in bulk and produce rice cheaply. There isalso concern for small farmers who have been tempted to grow cash crops inorder to sell to earn money. This causes local food shortages and a lowering,rather than rising, of living standards.
Activities:1- For a hill sheep farm, list three inputs: a. that are outside the farmer’s control. b. that the farmer could alter so as to increase output. For each one, suggest how this could be done.2- What is the difference between: a. intensive farming and extensive farming. b. commercial farming and subsistence farming.3- Investigate: Try to classify these farms according to their inputs, processes and outputs. • Cereal farming in East Anglia. • Greenhouse cultivation in the Netherlands. • Rice farming on the Ganges floodplain. • High sheep farming in upland Britain. • Cattle ranching on the Prairies, USA: • Tomatoes in the Netherlands. • Shifting cultivation in Amazonia.4- Write two short newspaper articles for the headlines below. In each case, describe the change and give its advantages and disadvantages: • Concerns grow as chemical use increases. • Organic farming promises cleaner environment.5- Use the information of this table, draw a line graph to show rice yields in India between 1931 and 2001. Then: a. Describe the main features of your graph. b. What effect has the Green Revolution had on rice yields?Year 1931 1961 1981 1991 2001Yields (kg/ha) 1520 1480 1860 2620 3100 Green Revolution6- Write a report about the Green Revolution using this summary: • Definition. • Main features. • Successes. • Failures.7- Investigate: Developments in farming need careful planning and management otherwise they can have unintentional adverse effects upon the environment. How has farming affected the environment?