Talk:Agriculture in the United Kingdom

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Former good article nominee Agriculture in the United Kingdom was a Sports and recreation good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Don't trust the information as I can't check the sources given[edit]

I'm not convinced by most of the information quoted as I can't check it (DEFRA p13 for example!) Howver, since DEFRA just covers England, these figures may just be about England. The figures shouls either get a aource that we can check, or be removed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:14, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

  • Why can't you check it?—S Marshall T/C 22:55, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
    • Actually, forget that question: there's only two possible reasons why you can't check it. Either you don't see how references work, or else your computer can't read .pdfs. If it's that your computer can't read .pdfs, then google for Adobe Acrobat Reader and install it for free. If it's that you don't know how references work, then the clue is that "DEFRA 2009" means the document written by DEFRA in 2009. So scroll down to the bibliography and look for it (the bibliography is in alphabetical order so it's the third one down). There, you will see a link to the source file (marked with the little .pdf icon), which is called "Agriculture in the United Kingdom". (DEFRA do write about the UK, you see. They're not just about England.)

      When you read the source file you will see that all the information is exactly as I've said.—S Marshall T/C 23:19, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

      • Thanks - I thought I should be able to click on the reference to take me straight to the page, but clearly not. (talk) 15:48, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

Copied from S Marshall's talk page[edit]

Hi, I see that you have reverted all of my edits to the lead of Agriculture in the United Kingdom. I appreciate that you have made very significant contributions to that article and respect your views but do feel that the lead could be improved. In particular I think that it is overly negative and impressionistic. For example, the opening sentence 'Agriculture in the United Kingdom is an industry in gradual decline' is sweeping and negative and does not actually specify in which way the industry is in decline.

I propose that an opening sentence such as 'Agriculture in the United Kingdom is intensive, highly mechanised and contributes a small and gradually shrinking proportion of the country's economic output.' is more netural, specific and less POV. I would be grateful to hear your thoughts. Rangoon11 (talk) 15:51, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

  • Well, I feel that the purpose of the lede is to give the reader an overview of the subject. This necessarily entails sweeping, broad-brush remarks, which must then be explained and cited to reliable sources in the main body of the article.

    It's true the opening remarks are entirely negative in tone. But that's a realistic picture of the state of the industry, and it's easily verified by reference to the sources given. The references show that income from farms declined 6.7% last year and nearly 45% over the last fifteen years. Basically, the whole industry has tanked and the farmers we have left in the UK are old men, who don't know any other trade and who're by and large locked into long-term tenancies or have all their capital tied up in land.

    That's a major claim to make, which is why once you get past the lede, the article addresses that fact as the very first issue and proves it by reference to impeccable sources. I'm of the view that the lede needs to state this as the first point it makes.

    This isn't to say that I'm opposed to any changes in the article, and I'm not; it's just to say that I think the lede needs to start by pointing out the state of the industry.—S Marshall T/C 16:10, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for your reply. Firstly I do completely accept the quoted statistics and understand that, by a number of measures, the industry is unfortunately in poor health and has been for a number of years. I don't in any way want to hide harsh truths but I do think that there is still room for some edits to the lede.
I have no issue with the references to declining income, high average age of farmers, high costs of entry and falling entry by young people all remaining in the lede. I do feel that the opening sentence is too broad however. Even though the industry may in some important ways have experienced decline, there is no certainty that decline in all of those areas will continue going forward, and there are no doubt some areas where the industry has not in fact been in decline and may even have strengthed.
I therefore propose changing the first sentence to 'Agriculture in the United Kingdom is intensive, highly mechanised and contributes a small and gradually shrinking proportion of the country's economic output.' and leaving the rest of the first paragraph as is.
In the second paragraph I think that the sentence 'Bleak though recent decades may have been, the British farming community is resilient and adaptable.' is overly impressionistic. I propose that it be replaced simply by 'In recent years there has been a considerable growth in organic farming...'
I think that there may also be scope for the addition of a couple of the most significant overview statistics into the lede, e.g. tthe industry employs 535,000 and has the -th largest agricultural output of any EU nation. Rangoon11 (talk) 16:38, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
  • I've made the change to the second paragraph that you suggest. On reflection, I agree that it was an unwarranted opinion statement. I'm not convinced by the proposed alternative first sentence, because I don't think the proposed alternative is clear enough. I think that the evidence is strong enough for the article to just come out and tell it like it is.

    I understand the NPOV concern. NPOV often makes editors anxious to give both sides of a story, and to stick to neutral-seeming facts, but I find that makes articles into wishy-washy, vacillating streams of prose with no clear thesis or conclusion. I'm afraid that I still prefer the existing version of the first sentence, though I'm quite open to other alternative wording suggestions.—S Marshall T/C 17:04, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

I do understand your desire to face up to harsh truths in the article but also feel that the opening sentence, which is ultimately supposed to be a description of the subject in its totality, is too broad.
Take the example of a world renowed university commonly regarded as the best in the world e.g. Harvard. One would still not expect the article of that subject to start 'University x is one of the best universities in the world', but rather something like 'University x is a private research university based in x city, x country' founded in x'.
We should also note that this is an article about agriculture in the United Kingdom historically as well as present day (with, quite rightly, greater coverage of the present and recent past). In my view we should avoid an excessive emphasis on the present and recent past over the broad sweep of the subject as well as an excessive emphasis on decline over other features of the present day industry.
How about:
'Agriculture in the United Kingdom has been characterised by the country's high quality soil and temperate climate, high level of population density, relatively limited land area and proximity to other western European nations. Today the industry is intensive, highly mechanised and contributes a small and gradually shrinking proportion of the country's economic output. The industry has experienced a number of crises and a large decline in employment levels in recent decades and today faces a number of profound challenges.' And then continuing with the rest of the paragraph as is from the word 'Despite'.Rangoon11 (talk) 17:57, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
How do you feel about the revised wording I've placed directly in the article?—S Marshall T/C 20:09, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes I think that it's a big improvement. I have just made a couple of tweaks, happy to discuss if you disagree with any of them.Rangoon11 (talk) 20:39, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

File:Agricultural Land Use UK.gif Nominated for speedy Deletion[edit]


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GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Agriculture in the United Kingdom/GA2. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Jezhotwells (talk · contribs) 21:43, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

I shall be reviewing this article against the Good Article criteria, following its nomination for Good Article status.

Disambiguations: one found and fixed.[1] Jezhotwells (talk) 21:46, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Linkrot: six found and fixed.[2] Jezhotwells (talk) 21:56, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Checking against GA criteria[edit]

GA review (see here for what the criteria are, and here for what they are not)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS for lead, layout, word choice, fiction, and lists):
    The total area on agricultural holdings is about 17.1 million hectares do you mean "of" rather than "on"?
    croppable - wouldn't "arable" be better here?
    farmable - no such word
    About 70% of farms are owner-occupied or mostly so - can you explain the "mostly so" here?
    The average farm holder - wouldn't "farmer" be better here? (and in the lead)
    British farming is intensive and highly mechanised Better to stick with United Kingdom or UK throughout. Not everone understands their interchangeability in the UK.
    productivity increased 1.6% missing "by"
    Charles Townsend, a viscount known as "Turnip Townsend", retired from Parliament in 1730 and in the years between then and his death in 1738, introduced turnip farming on a large scale. This created four-crop rotation which allowed fertility to be maintained with much less fallow land. need some explanation of how turnip farming introduced four cop rotation and how fertility was increased.
    Parliament repealed the Corn Laws in 1846. This steadied prices, but agriculture remained prosperous in the previous sentences we were in depression, som further explanation of this change is needed.
    The invention of the digging plough was around 1885. It leaves no detectable furrows and breaks the land so that a seed drill can be used for planting. I find this confusing, Tull's seed drill had been in use for over a hundred years, can you expand a little on digging ploughs or link to a suitable section of the plough article?
    £4.38 billion why is £ wilikinked here, but not earlier?
    less freely drained areas tend to become waterlogged and need to be drained poorly phrased - repetitious
    covered pipes have been used in more modern times. "more" is uneccessary here
    Soil temperature is a key aspect of its fertility. confused subject - its here relates to "temperature" rather than "soil"
    Pests - why are rabbits (and other rodents) not listed in the table.
    Units such as degrees Celsius, litres and inches should have convert templates
    Other livestock summary mention of small niche production such as ostrich, rabbit, etc could be made
    When EU subsidy regime changes in 2013 missing definite article.
    Details will need to await the 2011 budget. now dated
    I have highlighted some obvious errors of grammar but the whole could do with a thorough line-by-line third party copy-edit to improve prose flow, avoid repetition and improve style
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
    Spotchecks on sources are OK, the article is well referenced, I assume good faith for off-line sources.
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
    History - although Scotland and England (with Wales) were united as the Kingdom of Great Britain]] in 1707, the United Kingdom was not formed until 1801, when Ireland was incorporated. I feel some summary mention of the differences in farming practice between the four nations of Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland should be made. Also we could do with a summary of pre 18th century agriculture.
    Nothing about the role of agricultural colleges, little about factory farming, one passing mention of the NFU, we could do with more about their role and also the role of the Ministry of Agriculture, now DEFRA - not just the Acts of Parliament.
    Diversification a little more could be made of recent trends in direct sales as a way of beating low farmgate prices when supplying supermarkets and food processors.
    This is a very big subject to tackle and at present we have a good start, but the article is presently some way from GA standards.
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
    This is, as I noted above, a very big subject to tackle, but a lot or work will be needed to get it to GA status. The prose is in need of improvement, there are missing areas of information. If you can get it up to scratch in two weeks then we can maybe pass it, but if it is going to take longer as I suspect it may then I will have to fail this nomination. On hold until 15 January. Jezhotwells (talk) 23:38, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
  7. Overall:
    I am afraid that this article still does not satisfy the GA criteria. Issues raised at the peer review, such as the origins of farming in Britain (UK) are missing, the organisation is not very clear. Many of teh points raised above have been addressed in part but I think more about the the role of politicains and politics in farming, a little more about education such as agricultural colleges, e.g. how many students, etc. The article touches lightly on many topics but in a not very coherent way. I think it needs replanning and most of the material here ac ne kept but in a more organised manner. Jezhotwells (talk) 16:10, 31 January 2012 (UTC)


Thank you, Jezhotwells, for that excellent, thorough and well-thought-out review. Your suggestions are extremely helpful. "Farm holder" is right, and not "farmer", because one means someone who farms and the other means someone who has a farm holding. At first glance, I think the rest of your points are quite right. It's amazing how I don't see the obvious until someone points it out! I'll try to get the fixes made within the 15 days, although the expansions required are quite substantial and will need researching, so I might not succeed. All the best—S Marshall T/C 00:01, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

Well that is not an absolute deadlkine, but I wouls expect substantial progress by then. Jezhotwells (talk) 04:08, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm not finding any acceptable sources for "factory farming". I mean, there are sources, but no NPOV ones. Everything I can find that uses those words means them in a negative or pejorative way. I think that "factory farming" is basically about animal welfare, which I've already covered in the article.—S Marshall T/C 23:22, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
How are you doing, shall I take another look? Jezhotwells (talk) 02:28, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't feel as if it's "done", but I do think it's probably up to GA standard at this point. Please do take another look! All the best—S Marshall T/C 02:30, 28 January 2012 (UTC)