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Home > Geography > Farming > Hill farming


Hill farming

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Hill farming, with the problems (and sometimes solutions) associated with it, is a popular topic for exam questions. This exercise will help you with the general factors affecting hill farming in the United Kingdom and will also touch on some of the ways farmers have diversified to try to make a living.

Example of a hill farm

Look at the diagram of an upland mixed farm in Scotland. Then read the typical exam question.

Diagram of an upland mixed farm divided into growing and grazing areas

a) Describe the problems facing farmers in areas such as that shown in the diagram.

b) How could farmers increase their income in an area like this? Give three different solutions.

This revision bite should help you answer exam questions like this one.

Problems affecting hill farmers

Farmers in upland/hill areas face particular problems linked to physical and human factors.

Diagram of a farm layout next to a hill

The diagram above represents a typical hill farm with three distinct zones:

  • Higher fell - peat moors and rocky craigs with rough pasture and poor grazing.
  • Allotment - enclosed rough grazing
  • Inbye - low lying land near farmhouse; grazing, grass for hay or silage, and sheep in the lambing season.

Below are the types of physical issues a farm like this could experience. Each point relates to the corresponding number on the map.

  1. Roads are often narrow and winding, far from the nearest markets.
  2. Steep slopes - machinery is difficult and dangerous to use.
  3. Sheltered land with about 1000 mm rainfall per year and 5°C warmer.
  4. Wet and cold weather cause diseases such as pneumonia and foot-rot in sheep.
  5. Poor, thin, acidic, stony soils give only rough grazing land.
  6. Exposed land with rainfall over 2500 mm per year and cold.
  7. Abandoned farm house - rural depopulation because few farms make a profit.
  8. Wet and cold weather - most crops don't grow and even hay is difficult to harvest.
  9. Flat land near the river (where the best soils lie) can be flooded in winter and spring.
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A hill farm.

Class Clips

Video clip about the difficulties facing one hill farm in Lundavra


Highland cow

Class Clips

Video clip about farming in Loch Lomond


Stone farm building

Class Clips

Hill farmers in the Yorkshire Dales diversify to bring in new income

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