Agricultural: to do with farming. The work of growing
crops or rearing animals.
Aid: the giving of resources by one country or
organisation, to another country.
Amalgamated Farms: small farms joined together to form
one large agricultural unit. (See Economies of Scale).
Appropriate Technology: technology suited to the area
where it is used. It usually refers to simple, low-cost machinery. (See Intermediate
Arable Farm: one which specialises in producing crops
e.g. wheat farming in East Anglia.
Aspect: the direction in which a slope faces, which
often affects the amount of solar energy received. South-facing slopes in Europe
receive more solar radiation than north-facing slopes and are better suited to
Attitudes to Change: farmers usually operate on the
basis of their view of the world, which may be very different from the farming
expert's view. Farmers' attitudes are affected by their individual culture or
background (e.g. 'backward' rural areas tend to have cautious farmers who are
unwilling to change; urban fringe areas tend to have farmers who are used to
change and are willing to try new ideas), their own individual background (e.g.
risk takers or cautious), and by the amount of information that is available to
Buying in Bulk: negotiating low prices from the supplier
by offering to buy very large quantities of a particular product.
CAP: See Common Agricultural Policy.
Capital-Intensive: an activity which requires a lot of
Cash Crop: where a crop is sold in the market for cash;
the term is often applied to crops grown in LEDCs which are exported to the
Cereals: crops where the seeds are the main product e.g.
Commercial Farming: farming for a profit, where food is
produced by advanced technological means for sale in the market. Often very few
workers are employed. (See Subsistence Farming). Market Gardening in the
Barcelona area is an example of commercial farming.
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): the policy used by the
EU to control farming. (See Guaranteed Prices, Subsidies, Quotas,
Diversification, Intervention, Milk Lakes, Grain Mountains, Set-aside,
Compensation: money paid to someone who has experienced
loss or injury. See land reform.
Contour Ploughing: the practice of ploughing along the
contours or a slope in order to minimise the down-slope run-off of water and
thereby prevent soil erosion.
Co-operatives: groups of farmers who join together to
share expensive items of machinery, to buy in bulk and to sell their produce.
The co-operative seeks the best possible price for the product and stops farmers
competing among themselves to sell the most produce, which often causes prices
Crops: cereals, vegetables and fruit grown by people.
Crop Rotation: a method of farming which avoids growing
the same crop in a field continuously. A regular change of crops maintains soil
fertility and reduces the risk of pests and diseases. See Fallow.
Cultivation: the growing of crops.
Dairy Farm: onewhich specialises in dairy cows,
producing milk, butter, cheeses, yoghurt etc.
Delta: an area of flat, very fertile land at the mouth
of a river which extends out into the sea. Deltas are formed from mud and silt
brought down by rivers.
Desertification: the reduction in the fertility of the
land as a result of human or natural processes. Causes include overgrazing,
over-cropping, gradual destruction of trees for fuel, the use of cattle dung as
a fuel, deforestation and climate change.
Diversification: switching from farming specialising in
a particular product e.g. crop or animal to one depending on arange
activities for an income e.g. bed and breakfast, paint-balling, farm zoo,
pick-your-own fruit etc. The EU provides grants for farms to diversify to try to
reduce the food surpluses resulting from over production.
Drainage: removing water from wet land by digging
ditches; the water table is lowered, the ground becomes drier and better suited
to crops. (See Wet Lands).
Economic Inputs: see Human Factors/Inputs.
Economies of Scale: the cost savings gained by
production on a large scale.
Environmental Inputs: see Physical Factors/Inputs.
Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs): set up as a
result of concern over the influence agriculture can have on the landscape,
wildlife and historic features. Grants are available within ESAs to conserve the
environment, reduce fertiliser use, restore heather moorland and wetlands,
rebuild drystone walls and replant hedgerows.
Eutrophication: the process by which fertiliser causes,
on reaching rivers and lakes, rapid algae growth and, subsequently, the
depletion of oxygen available for fish.
Extensive Farm: one with low capital inputs; it usually
covers a large area and has a low output per hectare.
Factory Farming: keeping animals in intensive artificial
Fallow: a field left for a year with just grass in order
for it to naturally regain its nutrients after several years of crops. This is
usually part of a Crop Rotation cycle.
Famine: a shortage of food causing malnutrition and
Feedback: the link between farm output and inputs, i.e.
reinvestment of some of the profits to buy new seed, fertiliser.
Fertiliser: nutrients applied to the soil, either
artificial (inorganic)or natural (organic).
Fodder: crops grown for animal feed, usually stored and
fed to the animals during the winter months.
Free Range: allowing animals to move about a sizeable
Grain Mountains: huge surpluses of cereal crops in the
EU, stored at very high cost.
Green Revolution: the attempt to improve the
productivity crops in LEDCs which began in the 1960s with the breeding of new
high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice.
Guaranteed Prices: a type of farm subsidy: the farmer is
guaranteed a minimum price for everything produced.
Herbicide: poisonous chemicals applied to crops to kill
Hybrid: a new higher-yielding plant variety obtained
from deliberate cross-pollination of two other selected varieties.
HYVs: High Yielding Varieties: new types of seed which
have been scientifically developed to produce more food per plant.
Land tenure/ownership e.g. tenant
Farm size & field size/shape
Culture and tradition
Organisation e.g. Co-operative
Demand (size and type of market)
Education & Training
Government Policies e.g. CAP
Capital: machinery, seeds, money
Personality of farmer
War, (causing famine, disease)
Technology: HYVs, fertilisers, irrigation
Infrastructure: roads, communications, storage.
Inputs: the investments necessary on a farm to produce
food. They include land, labour, machinery, seeds, fertiliser, pesticides and
Inorganic: of non-biological origin e.g. chemical
Intensive Farming: one with high capital and/or labour
inputs, asmall area of land, and high outputs.
Intermediate Technology: technology best suited to a
developing country which is neither too simple nor too advanced; it can be
easily repaired and does not rely on spare parts and technical know-how from
MEDCs should it break down. (See Appropriate Technology).
Intervention: where the CAP intervenes to keep food
prices artificially high, even though there are food surpluses in the EU.
lR8 Rice: a high yielding variety of rice developed from
hybrids during the Green Revolution.
Irrigation: the artificial watering of the land.
Labour-Intensive: where many workers are required; this
is typical of LEDC subsistence or peasant farming where there is an absence of
Land Degradation: the deterioration of the suitability
of land for farming due to soil erosion, desertification and salinisation.
Land Reform: where land is taken away from absentee
landlords by the government to sell or rent to farmers who were tenant share-croppers;
this encourages an increase in crop yields as the farmers now have the
incentive to work harder and make improvements in their land. Land reform also
can lead to larger, more profitable farm sizes where the inheritance system of
land always being divided between the sons of a family is changed. Any land
reform brings intense disagreements and can only work peacefully if governments
pay compensation to the former land owners. Land reform often accompanies a
package of government-assisted farming improvements, such as irrigation schemes,
new storage facilities, new roads, etc.
Land Tenure: how the land is owned e.g. tenant,
share-cropper, absentee landlord.
Marginal Land:land of poor quality because of
lack of nutrients, soil erosion, distance from market or other human and
Market Forces: thesystem where prices for
products are the result of supply and demand; if demand is high and supply
cannot be increased to meet it, prices go up; if demand is low and there is too
much supply, prices fall. (See Intervention).
Market Gardens: farms which produce vegetables, fruit
and flowers; usually found near a large market.
Milk Lakes: milk surpluses in the EU caused by
Mixed Farm: one which produces crops and animals.
Monoculture: a farming system in which a single crop is
grown continuously in the same field. This can exhaust the soil nutrients, lead
to a breakdown in soil structure and the loss of soil through wind or rainwater
Monsoon: the rainy season in south-east Asia.
Nomadic Pastoralist (Herding): livestock farmers who
move around for a least part of the year, usually in search of water and grazing
for their animals.
Natural Hazards: forces of nature which cause loss of
life or damage to crops, animals and property, e.g. storms and floods.
Organic Farming: this avoids the use of inorganic
chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.
Outputs: the result of the farmer's work, e.g. crops,
livestock, animal waste.
Over-Cropping: see over-cultivation.
Over-Cultivation: the excessive use of farmland to the
point where productivity falls due to soil exhaustion or land degradation.
Overgrazing: the destruction of the protective
vegetation cover by having too many animals grazing upon it.
Over-Production: where too much food is produced as a
result of EU policies to ensure that Europe is self- sufficient in food; this
results in very expensive storage. (See CAP, Grain Mountains, Milk Lakes,
Surplus, Set-aside, Diversification, Quotas, Guaranteed Prices, Subsidies,
Paddy Field: a flooded field where rice is grown.
Pastoral Farm: one which specialises in the production
of animals/animal products e.g. sheep farming in the Welsh hills..
Peasant Farming: small-scale farming in LEDCs in which
subsistence still plays a part.
Pesticide: poisonous chemicals applied to crops to kill
Pests: these affect crops and animals reducing yields,
Physical Factors/Inputs: these are natural factors
affecting the type of farming activity:
length of growing season (minimum 6ēC for grass to grow)
slope or gradient
altitude - fall of 1ēC every 100 metres in height
shady N-facing or sunny S-facing slope
Plantation: a large farm in the tropics where one main
cash crop is grown, often run by a transnational corporation.
Price Support Policies:in the EUa target
price is set for farm produce and also an intervention price. If the price of
farm produce falls to the intervention price the EU buys the product. This
guarantees a minimum price for the farmer but can lead to the EU building up
Processes: the activities that take place in a farm e.g.
Productivity: how much food is produced per worker or
per hectare of land.
Quotas: are used in the EU to control production, for
example, to avoid butter mountains and milk lakes. Dairy farmers have to buy a
quota, which allows them to produce a maximum amount of milk.
Ranching: rearing of beef cattle on a large scale.
Reclaimed Land: an area of drained land which was once
under the sea.
Salinisation: the accumulation in the soil of salts
which are poisonous for plants. This is often caused by irrigation and can make
the land useless for farming.
Sedentary Farming: farmers remain in the same place
throughout the year, e.g. dairy farming in Devon and Cornwall. (See Nomadic
Set-aside: the land on which a farmer is required by the
CAP to stop production of a surplus crop, such as wheat. The farmer receives
compensation for taking 15% of the land out of agricultural use.
Share-cropper: a farmer who pays the rent on his/her
farm as a percentage of each year's harvest. (See tenant farmer and absentee
Shifting Cultivation: farming in the Tropical Rain
Forest where the land is cleared and the vegetation burnt, crops are grown for a
few years until yields decline due to decreasing fertility of the soil. The
farmers then move on to a new clearing. This is a sustainable form of farming in
the Tropical Rain Forest when practised by low-density Indian tribes who do not
return to former clearings for 25-30 years.
Slashand Burn: a more destructive form of
shifting cultivation where population pressure caused by immigration to the Rain
Forests leads to people clearing large areas of trees in order to farm and
returning to former clearings long before the soil fertility has recovered.
Soil Conservation: methods of protecting the soil from
erosion e.g. hedges, terraces, contour ploughing, strip cropping.
Soil Erosion: The loss of soil from a field's surface by
the action of wind or water, often accelerated by human actions. Certain types
of soil are more at risk from erosion than others, as are soils on slopes.
Erosion can be reduced by soil conservation measures, which may involve a change
in cultivation practices.
Soil Exhaustion: where the soil has lost its fertility.
Solar Energy: the main source of energy on Earth, taken
into the food chain by photosynthesis in plants or used by people as a source of
electricity and heating.
Strip Cropping: where new crops are grown in narrow
strips; the ploughed soil where seeds are to be planted is protected from
erosion by adjacent strips where growing crops are at much later stages of
Subsidies:this is money paid to farmers for
producing certain crops, e.g. oil seed rape. They encourage the farmers to grow
more of the subsidised crop making the EU more self-sufficient in many
foodstuffs. But the drive to increase yields has led to:
The increased use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
The removal of hedgerows and woodlands
Greater soil erosion
Over-production, particularly of wheat, and huge grain
Subsistence Farming: farming which uses simple
technology, low capital investment, and in which the production of food for the
individual farmer's family is the priority. There is often no food left to sell.
Most farmers manage now to sell some of their output at some times during the
year. (See Commercial farming and Peasant farming).
Surplus: too much of a product being produced.
Sustainable Farming: farming which avoids soil erosion
and pollution: it does not destroy the land for future generations.
Temperate Crops: plants best suited to the climate of
the cooler temperate latitudes e.g. Britain.
Tenant Farmer: farmers who do not own the land they
cultivate. Their rent is usually a fixed percentage of the harvest each year.
Terraces: fields on steep hillsides are terraced to
provide flat growing areas for crops.
Trampling: a process caused by overgrazing, where the
soil becomes compacted (compressed) by animal hooves, making it impermeable and
useless for farming.
Transnational Corporation: a very large company, with
factories in many different countries, often making and selling a range of
Tropics: the areas of the world which are close to the
equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
Wet Lands: land only suitable for grazing of animals,
but very valuable for wildlife, especially birds. These are under pressure from
farmers who want to drain the land to make it suitable for more profitable
Wine Lake: surplus wine in the EU as a result of
Yield: how many crops a particular field, farm, or area
of land produces. It also applies to milk (yields) from dairy cows.