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Crops Production And Farming In Great Britain

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Growing more than just crops, Great Britain has grown as farmers and inventors in the agriculture community. Agriculture is more than what meets the eye and has far more importance than what some may realize. Since the Industrial Revolution which was thought to have been brought on by the Agricultural Revolution in Great Britain during the mid seventeenth century to the late nineteenth century, farming and livestock production has progressed and evolved a great deal. Over the years, farming and livestock production in Great Britain has evolved into a rich heritage which presents ever-changing techniques that will plow a path for the future. In the past, agriculture in Great Britain typically contained farmers who worked to produce livestock and crops to provide for themselves and their families. Farming techniques before the Agricultural Revolution for crops and livestock were quite different and required more labor to get the job done, however, they were still successful. Families would often have to work beside each other each day, all day long just to be able to have food and everyday materials to live on. “Often if the father was a farm owner and worker, his entire family labored alongside him”. Farming became a necessary lifestyle for these families to have food and products. Before the Agricultural Revolution, farmers labored manually by hand sowing crops and trading cattle during certain seasons. With the Agricultural and Industrial Revolution came new inventions which would result in an increase in the production of supply and a decrease in the amount of laborers. This altered the farming process because “These new processes in turn created a decline in both the intensity of the work and the number of agricultural laborers needed”. Although there was a decline in the need for workers, the inventions that were created during this time helped improve the production of crops and livestock greatly through “…three major changes: the selective breeding of livestock; the removal of common property rights to land; and new systems of cropping, involving turnips and clover”. After the Agricultural Revolution began, crops and livestock habits changed. According to Professor Mark Overton, “The mix of crops also changed, replacing low-yielding types, such as rye, with higher-yielding types such as wheat or barley”.

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Another important invention during the Revolution was a four-course rotation, or the Norfolk four-course rotation. This rotation invention was said to have “…greatly increased crop and livestock yields by improving soil fertility and reducing fallow”. This four-course rotation worked by rotating different crops instead of the same crop over and over which helps improve soil nutrients allowing the crops to be more successful. As far as livestock, Great Britain’s main production were in cattle to supply meat and dairy products like milk and cheese. During the past years, agriculture affected the life of people in many ways. Before the Agricultural Revolution, farmers and their families worked 24/7 to put food on the table. After inventions and new ideas for the agricultural part of Great Britain, lifestyles changed because farmers didn’t have to work as hard and they were able to supply food and be more productive. With the invention of the four-course rotation, farmers were able to supply different crops all year long and the soil the crops were grown on had more nutrients. More important inventions that helped make farming easier were “…important factors of the Agricultural Revolution was the invention of new tools and advancement of old ones, including the plough, seed drill, and threshing machine, to improve the efficiency of agricultural operations” which allowed farmers to operate machines to do their work rather than manually plowing and planting each crop. Livestock production also improved the life of the people of Great Britain. They learned to use manure from cattle as a fertilizer for plants and they started inbreeding/selective breeding to improve the quality of food produced from the livestock. According to an article, “Harvesting turnips meant that livestock could now be fed during the winter. This increased the number of animals and this, in turn, provided a good supply of manure which could be fed back into the soil to improve its nutrient content”. In the present, farming in Great Britain has improved. The constant findings of new ideas and with technology playing a big role, there are many ways farming has been improved since the 1500s. “While old-school farming machinery still plays a vital role, the farming sector is also benefiting from the latest developments in technology”. Although farmers still have to labor, the many machinery along with the technology has made farming a lot easier when in comparison to before the Agricultural Revolution. A lot of the farming done today is through machinery and technology. Tractors, which have been around for a while, are now larger than they were in the past and according to Bayer, “a large tractor can do in a day what used to take 100 people a week” which reduces the amount of workers a farmer will have to hire.

Also, over half of the land in Great Britain is used for farming purposes whether it be raising livestock or growing crops. Although there are small, local farmers, a lot of farming has moved to bigger industries which allows a big farm operation to sell their products to grocery stores and bigger corporations as well as supplying more jobs than a small local farm may have. Today, Great Britain still produced the crops they did years ago. They still produce crops like barley and wheat as well as potatoes. These crops are successful in producing top purchases for customers. For example, a lot of barley is used to make beer, and wheat is used to make bread, which are both commonly bought today. It is also said that they are “ranked number 11 among world potato-producing countries”. The major livestock that is produced today is cattle, sheep, and pigs. The cattle farms are used for the production of dairy and meat and the most common cattle right now is the British Friesian according to “Common Animals on UK Farms”. Also, sheep are used for lamb meat and sometimes wool, although wool production is fading out now. Pigs are typically used to produce meat as well as a type of fertilizer. The new technology that Great Britain has today has affected the current lifestyle by making farming a matter of operating a machine rather than manual labor as well as help them make more money. “Our farms do much more than provide us all with food – they also boost our overall financial prosperity” is what an article state about farming in Great Britain (Bayer). Crops, soils, and livestock have been improved through testing different ways to farm them which makes them more productive today. With crop farming, there are a lot of different ways to plow, plant, pick/harvest, and sell them to get the most profit and with livestock, selective breeding is still playing a factor in improving livestock. Farmers still use livestock for almost the same purposes as they did years ago, but have found new ways and more productive ways to use them as well. For example, dairy farms went from milking by hand to running big machinery that milks the cows for them. As for the future, it is believed that farming will continue to grow new ways to help improve farm work, production, and profit. Equipment will continue to evolve where machines are able to do most, if not all of the work. Technology will continue to advance to allow research on how to produce the best products. Although, with the positive things the farming world may get, there are also negative parts as well. With the harassment of activists who don’t want people to farm, it is causing farmers to lose profit and shut down their operations, mainly the small, local farmers, while bigger corporations are taking over.

According to this article, “one third of UK farms have disappeared in just ten years; UK dairy farms went down from 35,000 in 1995 to no more than 10,000 in 2015”. The future of farming for Great Britain is continuing to develop each day. There are new technologies like drones, which are able to fly high above and overlook a farm to aid in farmers’ crop and livestock production. It is said that “technology has the potential to remove many traditional farming jobs and create greater precision and efficiency of operations”. There are machines like robotic pickers that are able to pick fruit as well as ear tags for cattle that may be able to monitor their health and detect any health problems early to prevent a farmer from unexpectedly finding a dead animal on their farm. The major crops in Great Britain may change but a lot of the crops that have been produced since the early 1500s will most likely continue to be produced in the future as well. There will almost always be a need for products containing wheat, barley, and potatoes. As far as livestock goes, cattle farms may be facing a decline but will most likely still be commonly used due to meat and dairy products. As far as sheep, Great Britain commonly eats lamb and will still be a popular livestock farmed. Also, according to NCBI, “the prices of meats, milk and cereals are likely to increase in the coming decades, dramatically reversing past trends”. The future of farming may affect lifestyles in good or bad ways. With the new ideas, technologies, and machinery, it could greatly help decrease the amount of work in farming which will also increase profit made for the farmer. Research on ways to improve the health of crops and livestock will also continue to help produce meat, milk, and supplies better than before. Negatively, it is a concern for small, local farmers going out of business due to the new, expensive technology that bigger farming industries are able to buy and improve their farms. It is also a worry that “intensive farming had caused damage to habitats and landscapes,” and that it needs to restore the nature it has caused damage to. All in all, farming in Great Britain has changed since the Agricultural Revolution in some ways but has also been common throughout the years as well. Crops and livestock from the past, present, and future have all served the same purpose in their production, with the addition of new technology and inventions to make it more productive for the world to buy, eat, and use. Over the years, farming and livestock production in Great Britain has evolved into a rich heritage which presents ever-changing techniques that will plow a path for the future. The Agricultural Revolution set the path for the new inventions for the agricultural world in Great Britain and greatly increased skills and profits for crop and livestock farmers.

01 February 2021

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