Sunday, 30 March 2008

Arable Farming

2004 HIGHER PAPER 1 Q5c.

Explain why modern farming practices may have an effect on the environment. (4 marks)

To make fields larger hedgerows are often removed. This destroys the habitat for birds, insects and animals. The same thing happens when woodland is cleared or marshland is drained to increase the area of land available for cultivation. Creating larger fields by hedgerow removal will make rainfall run-off from fields more serious causing soil erosion. In dry periods the wind can erode topsoil more easily due to the absence of hedgerow barriers. Also, chemicals sprayed onto crops to control insect pests, for example, aphids, may also destroy ‘friendly’ insects such as ladybirds. Chemical fertilisers used on fields may get washed into nearby rivers by run-off. This encourages the growth of weed which reduces oxygen levels in the river leading to the death of fish. This process is called eutrophication.

2004 Q 6a ii Explain why the arable farm in East Anglia that you have studied is likely to be more profitable than a hill sheep farm in the Lake District. (6 marks)

(note comparison words)

Lynford House Farm Cambridgeshire

The farm is 570ha in size and specializes in mainly three crops – potatoes, wheat and sugar beet. Farm managers work closely with scientific advisers to produce the maximum yields and crop quality. This farm is highly intensive compared to the extensive hill sheep farming at Waterside House Farm in Cumbria. East Anglia has deep fertile heavy clay loam soils to help crop growth unlike the hill farm which has poor thin acidic soil. The climate in East Anglia is also much better for growing arable crops with a longer growing season, warm sunny summers (16 degrees C) which helps crops to grow faster than in the Lake District. Hedgerows have been removed so that all the land can be used for growing crops. As farming is more profitable here more money can be spent on chemical fertilisers and pesticides and on irrigation which helps to promote good crop growth and maximises outputs. Various agricultural machinery can be used because the land is just above sea level in East Anglia unlike the steep fells of Cumbria. In the Lake District the annual rainfall is high 1476mm which leaches the soil of its nutrients and is too wet for growing arable crops. The price of sheep has also decreased recently due to decreased demand whereas the arable farm is able to benefit from subsidies and quotas and so will be more profitable.

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