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UK Agriculture — An Introduction


agriculture [‘?gr?k?l??] сельское хозяйство; земледелие; агрономия

cultivating возделывание; культивация; культивирование

livestock [‘la?vst?k] домашний скот, поголовье скота (общее количество каких-л. животных на определенной территории или в определенном хозяйстве)

utilization = utilization [ju?t?la?’ze???n] использование, употребление, применение; утилизация

growing [‘gr?u??] выращивание

Near East Ближний Восток (название территории на западе Азии и северо-востоке Африки) The Near East is the same as the Middle East.

wildwood — an uncultivated wood or forest that has been allowed to grow naturally [forest = large wood, jungle = dense, impenetrable forest]

slash and burn = slash-and-burn подсечно-огневое земледелие — a method of farming that involves clearing land by destroying and burning all the trees and plants on it, farming there for a short time, and then moving on to clear a new piece of land. Traditional slash and burn farming methods have exhausted the soil. [slash [sl??] вырубка (леса)]

revert [r?’v??t] возвращаться (в прежнее состояние)

scrub [skr?b] а) невысокий кустарник, низкая поросль; низкорослая растительность б) местность, покрытая такой растительностью

woodland [‘wudl?nd] лесистая местность

barter [‘b??t?] бартер, меновая торговля; товарообмен

hides кожсырье — taking-up of hides — первичная обработка кож

Saxons — a people that inhabited parts of central and northern Germany from Roman times, many of whom conquered and settled in much of southern England in the 5th–6th centuries

subsistence [s?b’s?st?ns] продовольственная самообеспеченность — production at a level sufficient only for one’s own use or consumption, without any surplus for trade — the action or fact of maintaining or supporting oneself, especially at a minimal level

acre [‘e?k?] акр (единица площади; = 0,4 га или 4047 м2)

wool [wul] шерсть

adverse [‘?dv??s] 1) враждебный 2) неблагоприятный, неблаготворный; вредный

famine [‘f?m?n] голод (стихийное бедствие)

starve [st??v] голодать, умирать от голода to starve to death — умирать голодной смертью

Black Death [,bl?k’de?] Чёрная смерть (название чумы в Европе в 14 в) — the great epidemic of a disease thought to be bubonic plague, which killed a large proportion of the population of Europe in the mid 14th century. It originated in central Asia and China and spread rapidly through Europe, carried by the fleas of black rats, reaching England in 1348 and killing between one third and one half of the population in a matter of months

farmland [‘f??ml?nd] земля, пригодная для обработки; обрабатываемая земля — to cultivate / work farmland — обрабатывать землю

lord [l??d] господин, феодал, сеньор

take on 1) принимать на службу 2) брать (работу); браться (за дело) — to take on extra work — брать (браться за) дополнительную работу

on (one’s) own account 1) в своих собственных интересах 2) на свой страх и риск

farmstead [‘f??msted] a farm and its buildings — усадьба

yield [ji?ld] а) плоды, урожай — good yield of wheat — хороший урожай пшеницы б) сбор урожая в) прибыль, доход (от финансовой деятельности, от сбора налогов и т. п.) г) размер выработки; количество добытого или произведённого продукта; выход (продукции) milk yield — надой молока

advent [‘?dv?nt] наступление (эпохи, события), прибытие, приход

diet [‘da??t] 1) питание, пища; еда, корм; стол 2) диета, режим питания

agrochemicals агрохимикаты

overlook 1. [??uv?’luk] = to rise above

long run длительный период

environmental [?n?va??r?n’ment?l ], [en-] экологический, относящийся к окружающей среде; относящийся к борьбе с загрязнением окружающей среды

carbon [‘k??b?n] 1) углерод 2) химически чистый уголь

absorption [?b’z??p??n] всасывание, впитывание; абсорбция, поглощение


Agriculture is typically defined as the science or business of cultivating the soil, growing crops and rearing livestock. Farming is the skill of practising agriculture. The purpose of agriculture is to provide planned food utilisation for its dependant societies and although growing crops and rearing livestock are fundamental to this, it is the storage of produce that makes this possible.

Agriculture originated in the near east over 10,000 years ago before spreading across Europe to reach the UK around 6500 years ago. We cannot be certain how agriculture arrived in the UK but it is likely that it was a result of both «idea transfer» and the arrival of new settlers from the continent. The first farmers began by clearing the native wildwood and converting the land to agriculture in a «slash and burn» style. The new land that was cleared was farmed until fertility was exhausted (after about 20 years) at which point the land was abandoned and the farmers moved to start afresh. Meanwhile the abandoned land reverted to scrub and then woodland, later being returned to agriculture.

Since then agriculture has continued to develop, often in phases lasting many centuries, but all having a signifcant impact on the UK countryside.

The Bronze and Iron ages, dating from around 2500 BC until the arrival of the Romans, saw the removal of most of the wildwood that covered the countryside and its conversion to agriculture. Sophisticated farming systems developed and trade (through barter) was widespread both locally and internationally. Exported corn and cattle hides, for example, being exchanged with wine and olive oil.

The Romans introduced many technical innovations to agriculture but these were secondary to the creation of a demand led economy that helped drive agricultural output and efficiency. Food followed the army and was either grown locally or transported, being produced to order and paid for in cash.

In the Saxon period agriculture reverted to a subsistence form and so it was not until the Middle Ages that population growth and trade encouraged further development. Agriculture expanded to bring every possible acre under management with moorland and high ground being converted. Wool was produced and exported in great quantities and became the UK’s most important industry. Horses started to replace oxen and new approaches were adopted to raise output, all of which helped feed a population increasingly involved in trade and the professions.

However, in 1315 the start of adverse climatic conditions saw the failure of five harvests and led to the great famine, many starved to death. In 1348 the Black Death swept the UK and the population fell by over a third. Farmland was abandoned and peasants who had previously been bound to their lords suddenly found that they were in demand to take on land and farm on their own account. Over time they consolidated and enclosed their land forming the farmsteads that still dominate the countryside today.

Consolidation continued until the eighteenth century when UK agriculture underwent a new revolution based on the adoption of science and technology and yields rose.

The advent of the industrial revolution further transformed the landscape and led to the UK becoming the world’s first urban nation. Railways, new roads and an improving transport infrastructure provided fresh food for fast growing towns while imported produce from around the world provided a greatly more diverse diet. In 1850 agriculture accounted for 20% of national income; by 1900 this had fallen to just 6%.

After the Second World War a new agricultural revolution began. Driven by agrochemicals, mechanisation and government support, production rose and for a short period overlooked the long run requirements for the balanced management of the countryside. This led to much soul searching as to the role of agriculture with calls for it to act with greater environmental responsibility. But just as the debate between food production and the environment was beginning to settle, the challenge of global warming emerged. A new role for agriculture is developing with energy production and carbon absorption perhaps, the story of the forthcoming century.