Impact of new technology

Machinery

Fields in the rural landscape

Since the 1950s there has been a massive increase in the use of farm machinery such as tractors, ploughs and combine harvesters. The use of modern farming technology has had both a positive and negative impact on rural areas.

Positive and negative impacts of modern farming technology

Positive Negative
Increase crop yield as work can be done faster and more efficiently Loss of animal habitats and shelter belts as hedgerows were removed to increase field size and accommodate large machinery
Increased profit for the farmer Increase in noise pollution
Less physical work for people Fewer jobs available
Fewer workers so less wages for farmer to pay As people become unemployed, they move away to find work leading to rural depopulation
Crops are harvested faster so they are fresher Machines are expensive to buy and repairs can be costly

Chemicals - fertilisers and pesticides

There has been an increase in the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides to try to improve crop yields and farmers profits. Chemical fertilisers have also enabled crops to be grown on areas with poorer quality soil. The use of modern chemicals has brought both advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages and disadvantages of modern chemicals

Advantages Disadvantages
Increased crop yield as fertiliser makes crops grow better Increased river pollution due to chemical run-off
Fewer plants being eaten by pests so more crops to sell Polluted river water leads to problems such as algae bloom which starves the river of oxygen affecting wildlife

Irrigation equipment - canals and sprinklers

In drier areas, canals and sprinkler systems - artificial irrigation, are necessary to water the crops. Without irrigation, large agribusinesses would not be able to make big profits.

Glossary
  1. agribusinesses' A large-scale farming business that operates to make a big profit.
  2. agriculture Farming - especially arable or crop farming.
  3. animal habitats The area where wild plants and animals live.
  4. antibiotic Substance that controls the spread of bacteria in the body by killing them or stopping them reproducing.
  5. artificial chemicals Man-made substances that are used in farming to grow healthy crops.
  6. artificial irrigation When crops are artificially watered by sprinklers and irrigation canals due to a lack of rainfall.
  7. beef Meat that is produced from cows.
  8. biofuel A type of energy derived from renewable plant and animal materials, eg ethanol (often made from corn in the United States and sugarcane in Brazil), biodiesel (vegetable oils and liquid animal fats) and biogas (methane from animal manure).
  9. canal A man-made waterway.
  10. cereal crops Arable crops, eg wheat, barley and oats.
  11. cheese-making When cheese is made
  12. chemical free food Food that has been produced without the use of fertilisers and pesticides.
  13. combine harvester A farm machine used to gather cereal crops such as wheat from fields.
  14. commercial arable farming Growing crops on a large scale for sale.
  15. Common Agricultural Policy A set of European Union laws that impact on farmers.
  16. consumer (Geography) The final user of a product.
  17. countryside A rural area.
  18. crop rotation When fields are used to grow the same crop in alternate years. This helps to maintain soil fertility.
  19. cultivated When land is used for growing crops.
  20. diversification When farmers undertake non-farming activities to generate more income.
  21. educational tours An activity when people are guided around and given a talk about the working life of a farm.
  22. employment When people are paid to work.
  23. Environmental Stewardship Policy A scheme passed by the Government that pays farmers to take more care of their land.
  24. environmentally friendly Activities that are not damaging to the natural environment.
  25. environmentally-sensitive area A special designation for a farming area that needs to be protected because of its landscape, wildlife or historical value.
  26. European Union A group of European countries initially formed to remove trade barriers and reduce potential for war within Europe. Citizens of member states have the right to move freely to any other member state to work.
  27. famine An extreme lack of food that leads to large numbers of people starving to death.
  28. fertiliser A nutrient added to the soil to increase the soil fertility.
  29. fishing When people catch fish.
  30. food surplus When there are extra crops and more than enough food to feed a population.
  31. footpath erosion The wearing away of trails.
  32. fossil fuel Natural, finite fuel formed from the remains of living organisms, eg oil, coal and natural gas.
  33. fruit picking An activity when people pick fruit on a farm.
  34. grants Money that is given and does not have to be paid back.
  35. Green Revolution The application of modern farming techniques, eg fertilisers, high-yield variety (HYV) seeds and irrigation.
  36. guaranteed prices When people know for certain how much they will receive for their goods.
  37. harvested When crops are collected from the fields.
  38. High Yield Variety Seeds Seeds which can produce up to ten times more crops than regular seeds.
  39. holiday home A dwelling that is used as a second home when people go on a break.
  40. horse-riding An activity involving people riding horses for leisure.
  41. infrastructure The basic structures needed for an area to function, for example roads and communications.
  42. irrigation When crops are artificially watered by sprinklers and irrigation canals due to a lack of rainfall.
  43. irrigation channels A man-made ditch used to collect rainwater.
  44. land reform When land is redistributed to landless people.
  45. local services A number of activities that serve the general public for different purposes e.g. schools and shops.
  46. machinery Mechanically operated equipment, eg a tractor.
  47. manual labour When people do all the work by hand.
  48. manure Animal dung (solid waste) used as fertiliser.
  49. market The customers who buy goods and services.
  50. mechanisation In industry where machines carry out tasks which humans used to do.
  51. natural habitats The surroundings in which a particular animal is able to live and thrive.
  52. off-roading An activity which involves people manoeuvring four-wheel drive cars over rough terrain.
  53. organic farming When crops are grown without the use of chemicals.
  54. organic milk Milk that has been produced without the use of chemicals.
  55. out-migration When people move away from an area.
  56. paint ball An activity which involved people stalking each other in teams and 'shooting' them with paint.
  57. pesticide General name for chemicals used to kill pest species that feed on crops and reduce crop yield.
  58. plough A farm machine used to turn over the soil in preparation for seeds to be sewn.
  59. pollution Contaminating the air, land or water with harmful substances.
  60. profit The difference between revenue and costs. A key aim for all businesses.
  61. quad-biking An activity where people ride four-wheeled motorbikes over rough terrain.
  62. quotas A limit on the amount that can be produced.
  63. rural area An area of countryside.
  64. rural depopulation The movement of people out of the countryside.
  65. rural landscape An area of countryside.
  66. scenery The appearance of a place.
  67. services A number of activities that serve the general public for different purposes e.g. restaurants and cinemas.
  68. Sites of Special Scientific Interest A designated area in the UK which is protected.
  69. sprinklers A spray used to water crops artificially.
  70. standard of living The amount of wealth or personal comfort that a person or group of people have.
  71. subsistence farming When people only grow enough food to feed themselves and their family.
  72. tourism The business of providing holidays for people travelling for pleasure. These travellers are called tourists.
  73. tourist facilities Services which are provided for visitors e.g. toilets, restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops.
  74. tractor A machine used to do various types of work on a farm.
  75. traffic congestion When a road is overused and vehicles using it are unable to move freely.
  76. urban area A built-up place, eg a town or city.
  77. water buffalo A large animal used to pull simple farm ploughs in poor countries that cannot afford tractors.
  78. wetlands Land saturated with water, such as a marsh or swamp.
  79. wildlife Non-domesticated/wild plants and animals.
  80. woodlands An area of trees (also called a forest).
  81. yield The amount of crops harvested from a certain area.