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

PositiveNegative
Increase crop yield as work can be done faster and more efficientlyLoss of animal habitats and shelter belts as hedgerows were removed to increase field size and accommodate large machinery
Increased profit for the farmerIncrease in noise pollution
Less physical work for peopleFewer 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 fresherMachines 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

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Increased crop yield as fertiliser makes crops grow betterIncreased 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.