Types of Farms in the UK

Throughout the UK, there are three main types of farming, these being pastoral, arable, and a mixture of the two. Pastoral farming is focused around animals and animal produce, whereas an arable farm works around crops such as barley and wheat. There are many different types of farms within these three categories, all of which help in adding to the rich diversity of the UK’s agriculture and all of which come with their own sets of challenges through the different seasons of the year.

UK agriculture makes up £9.9 billion of GVA (Gross Value Added). 69% of the UK’s land is used for the purposes of agriculture, making up 1.5% of its entire workforce. To say the least, agriculture is a major component to the UK’s productivity and income, helping it to produce a range of different goods for the country to benefit from and highlighting this are the various financial incentives and grants available to farmers in the UK.

What is Pastoral Farming?

Pastoral farming, is a type of farming that is focused on animals and animal produce. These animals are typically referred to as ‘livestock,’ and this farming type comprises popular agricultural practices used throughout the UK. Some of the main types of livestock that are kept in pastoral farming include the following:

Cows – Typically used for their meat or their milk

Sheep – Can be used for their coats to make wool, their meat, or their milk

Chickens – Can be used for their meat or their eggs

There are some areas of land that are better-suited for a whole host of reasons for pastoral farming as opposed to arable farming. Pastoral farming suits pieces of land that are relatively steep, and would be difficult and dangerous to operate heavy machinery on (that which is needed for many different arable farming practices).

They also suit land which has features that would pose a threat to arable farming produce; such as cold, rainy weather and low-quality soil, which would make it difficult for crops to grow. Additionally, areas that are particularly windy can also be a detriment to arable farmers, as this could damage and break the crops.

These pieces of land, so long as grass can grow on them, are much better for livestock, only needing to be large enough to hold the animals, whilst also providing them with grass for nutrition. Steep areas of land are best suited to sheep, able to balance and graze on challenging terrain much better than other types of livestock such as cows or chickens.

What is Arable Farming?

Arable farming is the form of farming that produces crops. Whilst pastoral farming is relatively low maintenance when it comes to the condition of the land, arable farming will typically require many different features of the land to be prepared in particular ways and for the soil and land to of a specific nature and with specific features. This is in order to maximise the growth of the arable farm’s produce, needing the optimum conditions in order to help grow the optimum crops, often with increased yields.

Arable farming land will often have to hold extremely fertile soil; land that is relatively flat, and an environment that is warm, yet not overly dry or wet. Various different types of heavy machinery will also have to be able to go across the entirety of the land in question. It must also be fairly well sheltered and not too exposed to the elements such as damaging winds or other forms of extreme weather.

On top of all this, the drainage and irrigation quality of the land are also important factors that must be considered in areas for arable farming.

As arable farming can be slightly more demanding in terms of its environmental conditions, it is vital to ensure that any piece of land to be used in the case of arable farming is properly examined for all of the above features before being used to grow the farm’s crop produce.

What is Mixed Farming?

Mixed farming, as the name suggests, is farming that is involved in both pastoral and arable agriculture. For example, a mixed farm could hold cows for livestock as well as growing crops, and have a more varied range of products to sell on. For this type of farming, the requirements for both arable and pastoral practices will have to be considered, posing many challenges through combining these two methods of farming. For example, mixed farming will hold some fields with a more accommodating environment than others, and will have to place their livestock and crops accordingly.

Whilst both arable and pastoral farming come with different requirements, there are some more generic features which are applicable to most or sometimes even all different types of farms, including:

Overall Climate – Whilst specific to the type of farming, the climate surrounding a farm plays a vital role in the quality, and quantity, of the produce. When considering whether to introduce new products into the farm’s business, it’s crucial to consider whether the climate is right for that type of product.

Amount of Labour – The number of workers a farm has can greatly impact the productivity and success of a farm. Knowing how much can be done within the specified farm with a set number of workers in a set amount of time can be of great help when planning harvests.

Machinery – The type of machinery a farm has can also greatly affect its productivity. This will be very dependent upon the type of farming, and therefore the type of equipment the farm will need, for example cattle crush machinery where bulls are concerned. Investing in the right types of specialised machinery can help to speed up the process of both tending to and collecting the farm’s produce.

Knowing the different types of farming, and what each specific type needs to succeed, is vital in ensuring success in the sector, and in becoming part of such a significant industry within the UK.