There are three main types of farming that happen in the UK:
- arable, which is growing crops such as potatoes and cereals;
- pastoral, where almost all the land is used by the animals grazing or for growing feed for them;
- mixed, where some crops are grown and also some animals raised.
Farmers have to make careful decisions about what to farm as they want to obtain the highest quality and quantity (known as the yield) possible from their land.
Subsistence farmers produce enough to feed their families but have nothing left to sell.
Commercial farms produce very large amounts of food to sell to supermarkets and food manufacturers.
This is using large amounts of land.
Fields are often large and divided by stone walls.
Animals like: sheep, cattle and chickens are kept, plus a few dogs. Only grass for hay is grown.
Few workers are needed because few machines can be used of the often steep ground.
The farm is cheap to run.
In the UK, one area where extensive farming takes place is the Lake District.
This is making the most use of the land available.
Fields are often small and divided by hedges.
No animals are kept as it specialises in growing: fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Many workers are needed because many high-tech machines are used.
The farm is expensive to run.
In the UK, one area where Intensive farming takes place is Lincolnshire.
Fertile soil is rich in nutrients. Different plants, like wheat and sugar-beet, use up different kinds of nutrients. To keep the soil fertile, many farmers change the crops grown in each field every year. This is called crop rotation. Some crops, like clover, are good at putting nutrients back into the soil.
Many farmers like to adapt and improve the natural environment so that they get a bigger harvest:
- they can use greenhouses to grow crops that would normally need a warmer season or climate to survive (e.g. tomatoes);
- they can add nutrients, called fertilisers, to the soil to help it stay fertile - these can be made from animal manure or from chemicals;
- they can spray the crops with chemicals called pesticides to control weeds, disease and insects.
Some people worry that using technology and chemicals can be harmful. Organic farms produce food using only natural farming methods.
As the smaller, subsistence farms are finding it hard to compete with the larger, commercial farms, some are now setting aside land for other uses to gain extra income such as renting out converted barns or running a campsite.