What do I need to know:
ECF takes place in areas of the world like East Anglia in the UK. These large areas of land have high yields due to the sheer scale of the farm rather than a high amount of crops being produced per sq meter. Yields are high due to intesive use of fertilizers and pesticides. HIgh capital investment - in part due to a high level of government support - explains high levels of mechanization. These large machines are expensive so farmers will often form cooperatives to share equipment. These machines are very efficient as the land is flat so perfectly suited to their use which serves to boost yields. Government support in the form of subsidies paid to farmers to stay competitive. Typical crops include wheat or GM varieties such Oil Seed Rape which are mono-cultured as farmers aim to maximise yields for the global market.
ECF has changed in Britain my virtue of government intervation. The EU and British government provide subsidies to farmers to help them stay competitive on the global market. Quotas are put in place to prevent famers producing surpluses which can affect prices negatively. Policies such as Woodland Restoration Schemes, Setting Aside land reward farmers for reducing surpluses and restoring natural conditions to the modern farm landscape. Increasing use of GM crops such Flavr Savr Tomatoes increase yields however concerns exist over inter-species pollination. Recent collapse of British bee population is often attributed to over-use of fertilizers and pesticides. Generations of habitat destruction (hedge rows destroyed to enlarge fields) are starting to be reversed as farmers are encouraged to restore woodlands and wetlands in return for subsidies. Mechanization has caused large scale unemployment and also damages the soil due to the weight of the vehicles compressing pore space furthermore the size of machinery causes congestion problems on roads.
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