We are a resource of geographical information for schools and colleges. One of the aspects of Geography we discuss is agriculture and the physical and human effects of it.

Pollution by Chemicals

Much modern agriculture involves the implementation of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. The crop that farmers have been able to yield has subsequently grown by quite a margin. But these chemicals continue to move after they have been removed from the land into rivers and the water supply. This has resulted in changes in the flora and fauna of intensively farmed areas. River estuaries have fallen foul from the growth of weed and algae as the amount of nitrates in the water has gone up.

Governments have handled this problem by careful monitoring of pollution levels, with payments for the worst offenders. Some farmers have decided to go "organic", which means they do not depend on artificial chemicals. As well as having environmental advantages the farmer can charge more for the produce as the consumer is happy to pay extra for organic goods.

Changes in British farms

Fewer people work in British farms these days. This is for a few reasons:

  • Mechanisation - machines do the work of many workers and fewer horses are used. Horses needed a lot of looking after
  • Larger farms which are run efficiently need fewer workers
  • Workers have to be paid and the farm owner wishes to make as much money as possible

The yield is the amount of a crop that is grown from an area of land. The amount of wheat produced per hectare has increased over recent decades because of:

  • Higher use of fertiliser which enables the growth of plants
  • Increased use of pesticides which lower plant disease and damage from insects
  • Greater awareness and expertise in farming
  • Guarenteed costs from the EU mean farmers could still get a good price for their crop even if it was overproduced
  • Many hedges have been cut down which meant fewer small fields

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