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A pastoral farm.

Agriculture - A Primary Industry


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What is the farming system?

Farming is an example of a primary industry. Like a factory, a farm can be seen as a system with a series of inputs, processes and outputs.

Inputs can be divided into human and physical factors. Human inputs include labour, capital (money), machinery, seeds, fertiliser and young stock. Physical inputs include climate and weather, soil, relief (shape of the land) and slope.

Processes are the things that go on within the farm. This includes harvesting, ploughing, rearing animals and milking.

How can farms be classified?

Farming systems are determined by the type of farm. Farms can be classified as being arable, pastoral, mixed and market gardening.

Arable farms grow crops. Pastoral farms specialise in rearing animals. Mixed farms are both pastoral and arable.

Farms that have a high level of inputs are intensive. These achieve a high yield per hectare. An example would be arable farming in East Anglia or rice farming in South East Asia.

Those farms that have low input and output per hectare are extensive. An example would be a sheep farm in North Wales or a cattle ranch in Brazil.

Farms can also be classified by what happens to their outputs. On subsistence farms the produce is consumed by the farmer. Any surplus is usually sold to buy other goods. Farms that sell the majority of their produce are known as commercial farms.

Examples of farm types:

Commercial Hill sheep farming in Snowdonia. The poor soils and harsh climate make this area ideal for hill sheep farming. Market gardening in the Netherlands.
Subsistence Shifting cultivation in the Amazon rainforest Nomadic pasturalism in central Africa Rice farming in the Punjab region of India. The system requires a large amount of inputs e.g. labour, seeds and fertilisers. Usually the produce is consumed by the farmers. Any food left over is traded for other food, machinery or other resources.


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