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Farms and Farming

The study of farms and farming cuts across several areas of study within the geography GCSE. You need to be aware of how modern farming practices affect ecosystems in the natural environment as well as the social and economic aspects of farming in LEDCs and MEDCs. Since farming is a rural industry, it has a significant effect on both accessible and remote rural areas in the UK and you should be aware of how farming affects rural populations.

Farming is also known as agriculture and is a primary industry in which farmers produce crops and rear animals to provide food and various other related products. It is not immune to the factors that affect other industries e.g. recessions, lack of skilled workforce etc. The demand for agricultural produce is constant and is met by a range of farms from large commercial businesses to small family run units.

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You need to be able to describe farms and farming in LEDCs and MEDCs using four key words, choosing them from a list and making sure that they are used together in an appropriate fashion. The list is:

  1. sedentary or nomadic
  2. subsistence or commercial
  3. arable or pastoral or mixed
  4. intensive or extensive

Make sure that you know exactly what each word means, you can check your knowledge and understanding of some of these words in this quiz.

The type of farming carried out in an area is determined by several physical and human factors. The dominant ones are climate and relief which determine which crops grow best and what animals are suited to the area. In the UK, you do not find arable farming in the west of Scotland - the climate and soils are wrong. In Cambridgeshire, where the land is low lying with little relief, well drained fertile soil and warm summers, farming is arable as pastoral and mixed would be a less efficient use of the land.

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  1. Which of the following is the most likely reason that pastoral farming is the main form of agriculture in the Lake District?
    In this case, it is the physical factors of climate and soil fertility that means the land use in the Lake District is best suited to pastoral farming
  2. Which of the following is/are example(s) of nomadic farming?
    This is a form of agriculture often practised in tropical rainforests. It has to be nomadic because the soils become too poor to grow crops after only a few seasons of growing
  3. Which of the following happens on arable farms?
    An arable farm is one that grows crops
  4. Intensive arable farming has become more mechanised since the end of the Second World War. This means ...
    Mechanisation allows large farms to operate economically
  5. A Masai farmer lives in Africa on the Serengeti plain. There is a long rainy season but for four months a year, the Serengeti region experiences a dry season during which the grass dies off and the water supplies are extremely limited. The farmer takes his cattle to a different region, several days away, where there is a good water supply and grass. He keeps a small herd of cows to provide his family with meat and milk. Which of the following would describe this type of farming?
    Any answers with sedentary and commercial in them must be incorrect. This sort of farming is more likely to take place in LEDCs
  6. In LEDCs, a change to growing cash crops can help the economy. Which combination of words best describe this type of farming?
    There are positives and negatives to changing land use from subsistence farming to growing cash crops
  7. Which of the following is an example of sedentary farming?
    Sedentary means staying in one place
  8. Which of the following is a good description of extensive farming?
    Pastoral hill farms are a good example of extensive farming. The grazing land is poor and cannot support a high density of animals
  9. A subsistence farmer is a farmer who ...
    Subsistence farming is important in LEDCs
  10. In a LEDC, which of the following is not a disadvantage of converting from subsistence to commercial farming?
    If not used carefully, fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides can pollute drinking water supplies and damage fragile local ecosystems

Author: Kev Woodward

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