Quick Guide to Farming / Smallholder Terms

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A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T U W Y Z 



  • Acre - An acre is the traditional unit of measure and is a square approximately 209 feet per side (=4840 sq. yds.). The amount one man and two oxen could plough in a day. It is gradually being replaced by the metric unit the Hectare
  • Adjuvant - A substance other than water, when mixed in the spray mixture is intended to enhance the effectiveness of a pesticide.
  • Agribusiness - A progression from farming that combines agriculture and business. Large areas of land and large numbers of animals may be involved but with less interest in the environment and animal welfare than traditional family farms.
  • Agronomist - Qualified person who inspects crops and advises growers on agronomy, varieties, herbicides etc.
  • Air (Seed) Drill - A seed drill where air supplied by a fan is used as the medium to transport the seed from the metering unit to the coulters.
  • Ambient store - A store in which the temperature is maintained at a level that best suits the harvested crop
  • Ammonium nitrate - One of the main sources of artificial nitrogen fertiliser. Generally it is supplied as a prill and contains around one third of its weight as 'nitrogen'
  • Anthrax - A serious, sometimes fatal disease of animals and humans caused by a soil borne bacteria.
  • Aphids - Small insects that feed by sucking the sap from plants. They are the carriers of many viruses that affect a range of plants and crops. 
  • Artificial insemination (AI) - Semen from a bull is collected, divided into small packets called straws and preserved by freezing. Straws are sold on to any farms that want offspring from that particular bull. The semen in the straw is inserted into the cow or heifer, either by the farmer, by a vet or by a specially trained contractor. AI allows a farmer to produce calves from particularly good bulls without having to have the animal on the farm. It also gives greater control over when calving takes place.
  • Ash - (Fraxinus excelsior) Species of large deciduous tree native to Europe which likes heavy alkaline loams. 
  • Auger - Long tubular pieces of equipment to move grain. Augers have a spiral screw inside an outer tube which pushes the grain from the lower end to the top end. They are usually powered by electric motors and vary in diameter from 75mm up to 300mm 
  • Avian Influenza - A group of diseases that affect all birds and sometimes other animals, including humans



  • Baconer - A finished pig sold for bacon. Older and larger than a porker.
  • Bale - A compacted and bound bundle of straw, hay silage etc. May be square or round varying in size from 30 kg to 100kg.
  • Baler - Implement which picks up swaths of straw or hay and compresses it into a compact rectangular or cylidrical bale. When the desired size is reached it is automatically secured with twine or net wrapping.
  • bar - SI measure of pressure composed of 1000 millibar. Equal to around 14.2 lbs/sq.inch.
  • Barley - A cereal crop still popular in the UK although the acreage has reduced recently. It is identified by it's 'awns' which are covered in tiny barbs and cling to clothing. Barley is used as animal feed or by the brewing industry.
  • Barton - See Yard
  • Batch drier - A machine which dries grains by passing air (possibly heated by gas or oil) through a 'batch' and when dry will empty and refill itself with the next batch.
  • Bean - Field beans are normally grown as a high protein animal feed but some are for human consumption. They are generally allowed to ripen and dry which permits them to be harvested by combine.
  • Beetle - An insect with two pairs of wings, the front pair are hardened to cover the rear pair when folded. Most are beneficial and vary in size from under 1mm to over 60 mm. There are almost 4000 species in the UK.
  • Big Bags - Large generally polypropolene bags used for grain feed or fertiliser. Normally 500kg but some fertiliser is now in 600kg bags. Stockfeed may be supplied in 1000kg bags.
  • Bindweed - A common weed with a conspicuous white flower which can have severe effects on crop yields if unchecked. It is generally seen growing through hedges and on roadsides.
  • Bio-diesel - Automotive fuel manufactured primarily from oil seed rape (Canola) blended with diesel to reduce build up of atmospheric CO2.
  • Bird-Flu - see Avian Influenza
  • Blackthorn - (Prunus spinosa) Small spiny shrub commonly used in hedging. The fruit are known as sloes and have several uses.
  • Blob Marker - A device that leaves a temporary trail of foam blobs - a bit like bubble bath foam - so that a tractor driver can see where he has already been when working in a manner that leaves no tracks (Spreading slug pellets for example).
  • Boar - An entire male pig.
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - One of a group of diseases that cause dementia in many animals
  • Bovine Tuberculosis - A disease caused by a bacterium that can infect a great many animals and humans too. It is the main reason for the pasteurisation of milk
  • Bramble - A sprawling, prickly shrub well known for it's black berries which can be made into jams and desserts. Known as the blackberry in southern England.
  • Broiler - A chicken raised for meat production, generally in large intensive buildings.
  • Brome (Barren) - (Bromus Sterilis) A grass weed which is commonly found in hedge bottoms but can be difficult to control if it invades a crop. Recognisable by it's green/purple drooping flowers and seed heads.
  • BSE - see Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
  • Bullocks - Male cattle which have been castrated. The effects of castration are to make the cattle grow more quickly and to stop them reproducing.
  • Burn - A term used in northern England and Scotland for a stream.
  • Bushel - An old volume measure of cereals. One bushel of wheat weighed approximately 63 lbs, barley 56lbs, .and oats 42lbs.
  • Busk Calf - A calf sold at weaning: 6-10 months old
  • Buttercup - A common yellow flower (Ranunculus) generally found in wetter parts of the farm. It is common on undrained permanent pasture where it can become invasive.



  • Cake - Pelleted feed usually made from a mix of feeds and minerals. Usually about 8mm in diameter and 20mm long. The feeds are often byproducts from the food industry. As examples Sugar beet pulp is what is left when sugar has been extracted from the sugar beet, maize pulp is left when corn syrup is extracted from maize, and rape meal is what is left when rape oil is extracted from rape seed, normally for use in cooking oils. Any of these may be combined with other ingredients and compressed into cake.
  • Calf Pellets - See Cake - Calf pellets are usually smaller versions with a slight change in ingredients.
  • Canola - In agriculture, canola is the name given to certain varieties rapeseed (particularly in US & Canada) plants or the oil produced from those varieties.
  • Capping - Soils cap when a fine seedbed is sown and firmed but heavy rainfall follows. This causes the soil surface to form a hard layer when it dries out which in turn can prevent the emergence of shoots from the sown seeds.
  • Caryopsis - The term used to describe the simple fruit produced by grasses, including cereals.
  • Cast - Cast or 'draft' ewes are older hill sheep that are sold on for continued breeding in less harsh, lowland conditions.
  • Catch-crop - This is a quick growing crop, opportunistically grown for livestock feed etc. If for example winter barley was combined in July a fodder crop could be quickly sown and eaten during the winter allowing a spring crop to be drilled normally.
  • Cattle Passport - A document recording identification, movement and other details for a specific bovine animal.
  • Celcius - A temperature scale becoming universal where melting ice = 0° and boiling water =100° The alternative scale is Fahrenheit. A rough conversion is: °C * 1.8 + 32 = °F
  • Chain - A measure of length equal to 22 yards. or 20.1 metres.
  • Cheviot - A hardy breed named after the range of hills it originates from in northern England. It tends to be short legged but produces good quality meat.
  • Chick Crumbs - Small particles of specially formulated feed suitable for very young poultry.
  • Chickweed - An omnipresent weed growing almost anywhere in the UK. It is low growing and has tiny white flowers which produce seed almost all year round.
  • Clamp - A large area with walls possibly of timber but normally concrete which is used to store Silage. The clamp is filled with chopped grass from a forage harvester and compacted by tractor or handler and then sealed by means of a polythene membrane. Most moderns clamps are roofed.
  • Clarts - Mud (Dialect N England & S Scotland.)
  • Clean grazing - Pasture free from animal parasites, normally by resting it for one or more years.
  • Cleavers - (Galium aparine)A scrambling weed with 'sticky' hairy seeds and leaves. A problem weed which can smother crops and is generally seen in hedgerows.
  • CO2 - Carbon dioxide. A gas linked to global warming emitted primarily by fossil fuels. Growing crops absorb CO2 and produce oxygen.
  • Coccidiosis - A disease caused by microscopic, single-cell organisms called coccidia. It is particularly harmful in poultry flocks.
  • Colorado Beetle - A serious pest of potatoes, but very rarely seen in the fields of the UK. Most now arrive on imported foodstuffs.
  • Colostrum - The antibody-rich first milk produced by the mother immediately before and for a limited time after giving birth.
  • Combine - Combine (Harvester) Normally a self propelled machine which cuts, thrashes and separates grain from straw which it leaves either swathed or chopped.
  • Common fell grazing - Common fells are uplands where sheep flocks from several different farms graze freely without fences or walls.
  • Compaction - When soil is compressed naturally or otherwise to the extent that water cannot drain away or plant roots penetrate. Subsoiling is carried out to alleviate this.
  • Compound - Compound (Fertiliser) is one which contains more than one nutrient (nitrogen potash phosphorus sulphur)as opposed to a 'straight'
  • Compounder - A 'feed compounder' or 'feed mill' that produces animal feed for sale. Usually they produce a fixed specification feed using a blend of a variety of ingredients to produce the required specification at least cost using a computer program.
  • Coppice - Cutting a broad leaved tree to a stump to encourage many fresh straight shoots which can be used for walking sticks, hurdles etc.
  • Couch Grass - (Elymus repens) Very common in crops and grassland, couch reproduces by rhizomes as well as seed making it a constant problem.
  • Coulter - That part of a seed drill which actually works in the soil to place and cover the seed. They may be of the disc type or shoe type.
  • Couped - (Cowped?) A dialect word for a sheep which has rolled on it's back and because of fleece or terrain cannot get back on it's feet.
  • Court - Court or courtings are yards, partally or totally covered to overwinter livestock in.
  • Cow Cake - See Cake
  • Crab Apple - (Malus Sylvestris) Common in hedges and occasionally as a small tree it has small apple shaped sour fruits.
  • Cranefly - Commonly known as 'daddy longlegs'. The larva of which is the leatherjacket - can cause damage to grassland as it lives below ground for up to nine months.
  • Crawler - Commonly used to describe a track laying tractor. Traditionally tracks were steel but modern tractors have rubber tracks.
  • Creep - A creep is a shelter for young lambs that ewes are not able to enter. Feeding is supplied inside to encourage the lambs to take up solid food.
  • Croft - A small (<50 acres) subsistence farm found in the highlands of Scotland. Most crofters have secondary jobs as a living cannot generally be made today.
  • Crop rotation - Varying from year to year what is grown on a particular piece of land. This practice helps to avoid the build-up of pests and diseases specific to a particular crop. One crop may also put back into the soil nutrients taken out by another.
  • Cross-bred - Sheep produced by crossing two different recognised breeds Often leads to a stronger, more disease-resistant animal.
  • Crush - A (cattle) crush is a frame used to hold a large animal stationary whilst administering medications etc.
  • Cubicles - Individual partitions withing a cattle shed. The partitions are not separated by barriers, the lying areas are separated by barriers where cows can lie inside buildings. They differ from stalls in that the animal is not fastened in the stall and can come and go as it pleases.
  • Cull ewes - Ewes that have reached the end of their productive life on the farm
  • Cultivation - Normally shallow tillage operations to improve, drainage, water conservation, aeration, or to control weeds.



  • Dag - Wool clogged with dung. Usually forms teardrop shaped pendants dangling under the tail and around the anus of sheep. If allowed to remain dags may become infested with maggots which in some cases may go on to infest the flesh of the living sheep.
  • Dagging - Removing soiled fleece from the rear of sheep. This prevents contamination of the fleece at clipping time.
  • Dairy - The place where milk is processed or stored. On farms the building housing stainless steel tanks where milk is stored and cooled.
  • Dessicate - To dry out. In a cropping sense, dessication usually means to apply a total herbicide to speed up the ripening and drying process.
  • Dipping - Dipping (sheep) is used to control external parasites such as blowfly and ticks. The sheep is immersed in a bath of water with a persistent insecticide mixed in.
  • Ditch - A water channel dug to assist drainage or the mark a boundary. In this part of the world most are bordered by a hedge.
  • Drain - In the field sense a drain is a clay or plastic porous pipe buried at around 1 metre deep and covered with approximately 300mm gravel to collect and remove water from farmland.
  • Draft - See 'Cast.'
  • Draw - To make a draw with livestock is to sort fat from thin, ewes from tups, etc. Drawing lambs for market would be to select those with correct weight and conformation.
  • Drill - A machine towed by a tractor that plants seeds in rows a fixed distance apart. An alternative to broadcasting where seed is thrown into the air, either by hand or machine, and lands in a random pattern across the field.
  • Dry off - Milk production is stimulated by the birth of a calf. It continues as long as the calf or the milking machine keeps removing the milk. It dries up completely if the calf does not drink or the cow is not milked.
  • Dubs - Mud (Dialect S Scotland.)
  • Durum - A hard grained, high-protein variety of wheat that is preferred for pasta production. Durum is usually half-ground to produce the very coarse flour known as semolina
  • Dykeback - A local term used to denote the area round the outside of a field which never gets full sun or wind because of the hedge or wall (dyke).



  • Earthworm - Estimates say that up to 7.5 million earthworms live in every hectare of ground. They are essential to the health of the soil, they draw organic matter down, bring subsoil up and their burrows assist drainage and aeration.
  • Elder - A quick growing shrub (Sambucus) which has masses of white flowers in summer which can be used for making wine and black berries in autumn which are used for pies jams etc.
  • Elm - A slow growing hardwood tree (Ulmus) once extremely common in hedgerows and woods but suffered from Dutch Elm Disease in the late 20th century. Slowly being replanted by Wych Elm which is resistant to this disease.
  • Ergot - A disease of cereal ears caused by a fungus. Seeds are replaced by black poisonous spore producing bodies. It is not common nowadays due to high seed standards.
  • Erosion - A natural process whereby rocks, soil and other deposits are worn away by the action of water, ice, or wind.
  • Ewe - A female sheep, generally after her first lambing



  • Fahrenheit - The temperature scale on which melting ice = 32° and boiling water = 212° The alternative is Celcius. A rough conversion is: °F - 32 / 1.8 = °C
  • Fallow - Land left without a crop for one or more years. A very basic way to improve the soil fertility.
  • Family Farm - The 'traditional' idea of farming where a relatively small farm is owned and managed over several generations by one family. Normally two or more generations are working simultaneously. Most are very efficient and environmentally benign.
  • Farmyard - See Yard.
  • Feed Mill - A place where animal feeds are manufactured.
  • Fertiliser - A substance added to the soil to increase its productivity.
  • Field Capacity - The point at which soil becomes saturated and cannot hold more rainfall. If drainage is good, this should rarely occur but if it is poor runoff and erosion may occur.
  • Finishing - The feeding of cattle or sheep at a higher rate of growth which increases muscle on the animal and makes it acceptable for slaughter.
  • Flea Beetle - Small beetle with enlarged rear legs which allow it to jump large distances. The larvae can be a problem in brassica crops such as canola where they develop inside the stems.
  • Fleece - Shearing a sheep so that it's wool is removed intact in one piece, results in a fleece.
  • Fluke - A (Liver fluke) parasitic flatworm with a complex lifecycle involving snails and sheep/cattle.
  • Fodder beet - A type of sugar beet grown for feeding to cattle or sheep.
  • Foot and Mouth - (Disease) A viral disease of cloven hoofed animals (sheep, cattle, pigs etc) which is easily spread.
  • Foot Rot - An anerobic bacterial disease of sheep's feet exacerbated by wet weather or muddy fields. Some breeds are more susceptible than others.
  • Forage - Leafy crops that are (intentionally) grazed by livestock.
  • Forage Harvester - A machine powered by a tractor or self propelled which lifts a swath of wilted grass and chops it finely before delivering it to a following trailer. It is ensiled in a clamp
  • Ford - A natural or man made shallow part of a river or stream to allow crossing.
  • Free range - A system of poultry keeping in which hens are allowed to range over a large area of open land. The definition may vary as Agribusiness takes over.
  • Frog Hopper - An insect resembling a small frog which is best known for it's larva producing 'cuckoo spit' on plants.
  • Fungicide - A chemical (natural or synthetic )used to control or destroy fungi in growing crop. If left untreated diseases like mildew (Powdery) can have a devastating effect on crops.
  • Furlong - A measure of length equal to four chains or 88 yards. (80.4 metres)
  • Fusarium - A disease which infects the plants at a very early age and may kill seedlings, or at the ripening stage where ear development is affected and grain quality reduced.



  • Gelt - An adult, female sheep that is not in lamb when others are. Often she has been kept away from the ram because of problems at a previous lambing. Gelt ewes are fattened for sale to the meat trade at a time when lamb is in short supply.
  • Gimmer - A female sheep over a year old which may or may not have had lambs.
  • Glyphosate - A total translocated herbicide. Commonly used in cleaning stubbles or grassland destruction. Roundup is the best known trade name.
  • Grainstore - Purpose built structure designed to store grain in without risk of damage due to moisture, fungi, vermin etc. Temperature and humidity may be monitored and controlled.
  • Grass ley - Grass that is sown in the expectation that it will only last for a limited period before being ploughed up. There are short-term leys (1 or 2 years), medium-term leys (up to 5 years) and long-term leys (5-7 years). Beyond that the land will probably be permanent pasture.
  • Groundsel - A 'nuisance' weed which can be found anywhere. Popular for feeding cage birds and rabbits.
  • Grower Pellets - The poultry feed equivalent to weaner pellets - suitable for fast growing juvenile birds
  • Growth Stage - A decimal system to describe the progress of a plant through the season. GS 0 is a dry seed, GS 50 is flowering, GS 90 is ripening.



  • Hagberg Falling Number - A measure of the quality of wheat and its suitability for certain processes. In practice it is a measure of the viscosity of a broth made from the grain. A sample of the grain is ground, mixed with water and heated. It is put into a narrow tube and the time taken in seconds for a weighted plunger to fall a fixed distance is noted.
  • Hand - A measurement used to indicate the height of a horse, consisting of 4 inches (101mm).
  • Harrow - A shallow working trailed implement used to break down clods. Disc harrows may be used for primary cultivation whereas tined harrows are used pre or post sowing.
  • Harvest - Gathering a crop from the field when it is ripe.
  • Haulms - The stems of potato plants
  • Hay - Dried grass used for animal feed. It is cut, left to dry in the field and then baled. It is fed to livestock through the winter when fresh grass not available. Nowadays rarely used except for horses as it's production is unreliable in the UK climate
  • Hawthorn - A spring-flowering thorny shrub (Crataegus) commonly used to make stockproof hedges. If untrimmed will grow into a small tree.
  • Headland - The area of a field adjacent to a fence or hedge where machinery turns. This is normally cultivated last to avoid compaction in the soil.
  • Hectare - Measurement of area consisting of 10,000 sq. metres. Equal to roughly 2.47 acres
  • Hedge - A field boundary composed of shrubs such as hawthorn or blackthorn dense enough to keep livestock in the field and provide shelter. Hedges require regular maintenance to prevent them becoming sparse and less effective.
  • Hefting - the acclimatising of a flock of hill sheep to 'their' part of the hillside. A hefted flock is worth more to a farmer than one that has not been acclimatised as they roam far less and are easier to manage.
  • Heifer - A young female cow. A maiden heifer has not yet had a calf.
  • Herbicides - Chemicals used to control or destroy weeds.
  • Hill farming - Farming in the upland areas of Britain.
  • Hirsel - A Scottish term for a flock of sheep on a farm (generally on a hill) which are looked after by one shepherd. Traditionally this was 400-600 ewes.
  • Hogg - A young sheep from the time it is weaned to its first shearing.
  • Humus - The final stage in the decomposition of soil organic matter. It is essential in maintaining soil structure.
  • Hundredweight - Measure of weight equal to 112 lbs. or 1/20th of a ton. (2240 lbs) Now is approximated to, but does not equal 50 kg.
  • Hurdle - A small portable gate made of wattle but nowadays of aluminium or steel. Commonly used to make temporary sheep pens in buildings or outlying fields.



  • IACS - (Integrated Administrative Control System) The method used to control the amount of crops grown on farms by the EU. Financial penalties apply to those who do not follow the rules to the letter. It has been superceded by an even more complex and bureaucratic system (2005) called the SFP (Single Farm Payment).
  • Indian Summer - A period of unusually mild dry weather occurring in Autumn.
  • Insecticide - A pesticide used to control unwanted insects either in a growing crop or in grain stores and mills.
  • Irrigate - Encourage the growth of a crop by supplying extra water



  • Killing out percentage - The proportion of an animal that is edible meat as opposed to inedible material such as bones or skin
  • Kilogram - SI unit of weight. 1,000 kg = 1 tonne. 1kg = 2.2 lb.



  • Lactation - The period after birth in which the mother produces milk for the offspring.
  • Ladybird - A colourful small beetle whose larvae prey on aphids (greenfly)making them welcome on all farms.
  • Lairage - A place where livestock are kept temporarily. A waiting, holding or recovery area supplied with appropriate feeding and watering facilities. They are commonly found at markets, ports and abbotoirs.
  • Lambing - The period of the year when the flock is synchronised to give birth in an interval of a few weeks. The process of an individual ewe giving birth.
  • Land - Before the invention of two-way ploughs soil could only be turned one way. For convenience fields were divided into sections called lands which were ploughed by going round and around turning the soil to the middle. Lands were sited in different places each year.
  • Layer Pellets - Poultry food suitable for birds producing large numbers of eggs.
  • Leaching - The loss of nutrients, pesticides, lime, or other elements of the soil by the action of water as it percolates through the soil profile.
  • Leaf Miner - The larvae of certain moths and flies which live in the laminations of a leaf. They leave lighter coloured patches or trails as they eat the tissue.
  • LERAP - (Local Environmental Risk Assessment Plan) A set of regulations which control use of certain pesticides adjacent to watercourses. Records must be kept when a 'Lerap' applies to any operation.
  • Less Favoured Area (LFA) - Area of the country designated under European Union rules as needing extra financial support to sustain farming communities
  • Ley - Field sown with grass for one or more years. Short term leys usually yield heavier crops than longer leys due to the grass varieties used. They may be noted as a three year ley, 5 year ley etc.
  • Licks - Minerals, vitamins and trace elements may be given to livestock via enhanced salt blocks. Animals lick the blocks for their taste and ingest the essential ingredients.
  • Lifters - Attachments for the header of a combine which assist in combining a lodged crop by easing it off the ground.
  • Lime - Generally ground limestone which is used to neutralize soil acidity. Essential for crop growth and application rates average 5000kg/ha.
  • Linkage (three point) - The lift system universally used on tractors to attach and lift machinery such as ploughs, cultivators, drills etc. consisting of two lower powered lift arms and a fixed top central link.
  • Lodging - The term used to describe a crop which is falling over due to bad weather, (wind/rain) disease, or an inherent varietal weakness. Severe lodging makes harvesting extremely difficult due to moisture being trapped in the closely packed stems and lack of airflow.



  • MAFF - Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food Monolithic government department that changed its name to DEFRA after the Foot & Mouth outbreak.
  • Malting - The process of taking barley, steeping it in water, germinating it and then drying it. The dried product is malt and has many uses in food manufacturing and alcohol production.
  • Mangold - Large, red or gold coloured root vegetable resembling a elongated turnip. Used as animal feed but a relatively low value food source.
  • Manure - Animal dung generally mixed with the bedding straw and 'composted'.
  • Marker - A device fitted to many soil working implements to allow the tractor driver to return down the field at an exact distance from the previous bout by following a groove in the soil made with a disc or tine. The mark may be followed by the wheel or the centre of the tractor.
  • Market Garden - A small scale intensive farm producing (usually) vegetables and fruit for sale in local markets, sometimes direct to local businesses and the public.
  • Mart - (Auction) Marts are places centrally located where animals are brought to be sold at auction.
  • Mastitis - An infection of the udder. If left untreated it can severely damage the ability of a cow or sheep to produce milk.
  • Mayweed - (Matricaria) A common difficult to control daisy like weed.
  • MBM - See Meat and Bone Meal
  • Meadow Grass - An annual grass which is a pernicious weed in cereal crops.
  • Meal - A dry mix of feed ingredients, usually with the individual feeds distinguishable in the mix.
  • Meat and Bone Meal - An ingredient in animal feed and fertiliser. It is produced largely from the bits humans don't want to or can't eat. Typically guts and bones, but also carcasses unfit for human consumption. The meat is ground and heat treated (ie cooked) and then dried to a meal. The product is high in fat, protein and essential minerals (like phosphorus).
  • Metering (Seed) - A seed metering unit on a seed drill controls the flow of seed in relation to ground speed so that exactly the correct weight/area is sown.
  • Mildew (Powdery) - A common disease of most plants but of significance in cereals. White fluffy pustules appear on leaf or stem if rubbed off a brown stain is revealed. May spread to the ear if unchecked.
  • Milking Parlour - A place where cows (or other animals) are milked. Usually attached to a dairy.
  • Mill - To Mill, grind ingredients to make Meal
  • Mole Drain / Plough - A narrow, unlined drain in clay soil made with a special plough. A long narrow blade with a cylindrical foot is dragged through poorly draining soil leaving a circular cross sectioned hole with a disturbed section of soil above it. Mole drains require no liners and may continue to work for several years in really sticky soils.
  • Monoculture - Planting the same crop in the same field year after year with no crop rotation.
  • Mouldboard - That part of a plough which actually turns the soil after the share has cut the furrow bottom.
  • Muck spreading - Animal manure contains nutrients that can benefit the soil. Farms that have a lot of manure, removed from buildings where animals have been housed during the winter, may spread it onto their fields to act as a fertiliser.



  • Nurse Crop - A shelter crop. A quick growing, hardy crop sowed thinly along with a tender, slower growing crop in order to give shelter from harsh conditions during the early stages of growth. The Nurse crop is then killed or harvested before the main growing season leaving the desired crop to grow away. For example: winter sown oats, taken as silage in the spring, may be used to nurse field crops and birch is used to shelter timber trees for the first twenty years of their life



  • Oat - It is thought that oats are native to Britain and can be grown on sites of low fertility. Used as horse fodder
  • Organic - Low output farming using rotations, clover, and very few artificial fertilisers, pesticides and antibiotics.
  • Organophosphates - A class of insecticide that was originally synthesized during World War II as a nerve warfare agent. Compulsory sheep dipping in the UK exposed many people sensitive to these compounds. Examples of OPs include chlorpyrifos and sarin.
  • Over-wintering - Sheep from upland areas of Britain are regularly sent for the winter to lowland areas where feed is more available and the weather less harsh. They return to the uplands before lambing in the spring. The owner of the sheep pays the owner of the lowland farm a certain amount per sheep
  • Ox - Oxen, usually cattle trained to work as draught animals



  • Pathogen - Any micro-organism that causes a disease in plants or animals.
  • Pea - On a farm scale two types of pea are grown: Vining peas for human consumption and combinable peas generally for livestock feed.
  • Pesticides - Chemicals used to control or destroy crop pests. They include insecticides, herbicides (aimed at weeds), molluscicides (aimed at slugs and snails), and fungicides (aimed at fungi).
  • ph - The acidity index of the soil. Various crops perform better at optimum ph so certain crops may be suited to particular fields or areas. ph may be raised (more alkaline) by the application of ground limestone.
  • Phosphorus - An elemental nutrient required for crops. Normally applied as a phosphate.
  • Plough - A device which has changed little over the centuries used to turn the top layer of soil over and bury trash ready for the next crop.
  • Poaching - Damage to grass and soil caused by excessive animal treading in wet weather particularly round feeders etc.
  • Pollard - To cut the top off a fairly young tree at a height of 2 meters or more to produce a straight stem with a 'bushy' top.
  • Polled - An animal bred without horns. Usually refers to cattle.
  • Pollen - Fine particles containing the fertilizing element of plants (male) formed by the anthers of plants. Most allergies are caused by grass and tree pollens.
  • Pollen Beetle - A small (about 3mm) shiny black beetle which can occasionally become a pest in canola. It can destroy the flowers whilst still buds, in its attempts to reach the pollen.
  • Porker - A finished pig sold for pork. The youngest grade of adult pigmeat
  • Potassium - An essential elemental nutrient required for crop growth, normally supplied as inorganic 'K'.
  • Pound - Measure of weight consisting of 16 ounces.
  • Power harrow - A shallow working secondary cultivator with rotating tines which stir up and break the soil down to a seedbed. Regularly have seed drills fitted to carry out two operations with one pass.
  • Propane - A liquefied petroleum gas (C3H8) containing more heat value than natural gas that is used for grain drying.
  • PTO - Power Take Off. A splined shaft at the front or rear of a tractor used to supply power to attachments such as mowers or power harrows. Standard speeds are 540 & 1000 rpm.



  • Quarter - A old measure of weight used in grain. Wheat-4½ cwt, Barley-4cwt, Oats-3cwt.
  • Quota - milk - Every country in the European Union has a limit to the amount of milk that it is allowed to produce. That is its 'quota'. The total quota is divided up between all the dairy farmers in the country. Their individual quota is the number of litres of milk that they are allowed to produce each year. There are heavy financial penalties for producing too much milk and going 'over quota'. A farmer who does not use all of his quota may sell or lease it to another farmer. Anyone who wishes to start producing milk or to expand their business must first buy or lease quota.
  • Quota - sheep - The European Union pays a subsidy to farmers who keep sheep. This subsidy is known as Sheep Annual Premium (SAP). There is a limit to the amount of subsidy that any farmer can claim, governed by how much quota the farm possesses. A farmer who has 100 units of quota may only claim the subsidy for 100 breeding ewes or ewe lambs, even if he has many more sheep in total. Originally, every farmer who registered was given some quota by the government. Now, if they need more quota it must be bought or leased from another farmer who has some to spare. Quota is not needed to keep sheep, only to claim the subsidy.



  • Raddling - Fitting rams with a harness that contains a paint block. The paint leaves a mark on the rump of each ewe with whom the ram mates. Lack of a mark tells the farmer which ewes should remain longer with the ram. Sometimes thick paint is applied directly to the ram's chest rather than using a harness. This wears off more quickly and must be renewed regularly.
  • Ragwort - A weed which is gaining in population due to it's being uncontrolled on roadside verges etc. It is poisonous to livestock when wilting and should be controlled.
  • Residual herbicide - A herbicide that will remain in the soil and continue to destroy weeds long after it is applied.
  • Rhizome - A stem of a plant which grows underground in a horizontal manner producing roots and shoots at the nodes. Once these shoots establish the rhizome may be severed and the new plants will survive. Some rhizomes may also store food for the plant.
  • Rhynchosporium - A particular problem on barley large oval lesions with brown margins spread all over the surface of a leaf if uncontrolled.
  • Rigg and Furrow - Undulations in pasture especially on clay soils due to land being consistently ploughed in the same manner to give 5 or 7 yard 'riggs'. This assisted drainage but made travel with modern machinery more difficult.
  • Rigwelted - sheep - overturned. A heavily pregnant, broad backed ewe may roll over and be unable to right herself. She is rigwelted.
  • Rise - A sign that sheep are ready for shearing. The previous winter's greasy wool is lifted away from the skin by new wool that is much easier to cut. The Rise is seen as a yellowish line.
  • Roller - Implement used to firm down seedbeds to give better soil/seed contact to improve germination. Also used to push down stones in cereals and grass to prevent damage to harvesting machinery.
  • Rotation - Changing crops in a field an annual basis to maximise yield and minimise disease, soil damage etc.
  • Rough grazing - Grazing on natural, unmanaged grass and other vegetation growing on mountain slopes, moorland etc.
  • Ruminant - A hoofed animal such as cattle, sheep, goats and deer with a complicated stomach of 4 parts rumen, reticulum, omasum, abomasum and which chew the cud.
  • Runoff - A general term applying to water which for many reasons remains on the surface of land and flows to the lowest point possibly causing erosion or leaching in the process.
  • Rust - A fungal disease of many plant species but a problem on cereals and beans. It removes green leaf area and drains the plant of strength reducing yield and quality.
  • Rye - Now a minority crop, rye will grow on poor 'hungry' soils. Resembling barley with awns but with a much taller straw it is still favoured in Eastern Europe.



  • Seedbed - Land which has been cultivated sufficiently to provide a fine enough particle size and is firm enough to allow seeds to germinate quickly and evenly.
  • Septoria - A fungal disease of wheat and to a lesser extent of barley and oats. The spores of septoria are spread by rain splashes and a wet spring can promote a severe infection. Septoria reduces the number, size and quality of grains produced. The yield of an infected crop may be cut by up to 40% and in some cases it may not be worth harvesting.
  • Serving - Making an animal pregnant naturally or by artificial insemination.
  • Set-aside - Land that arable farmers must take out of production for one or more years. In exchange for setting aside the land from production the farmer receives compensation for the crop he would otherwise have grown
  • SFP - Single Farm Payment. The EU scheme ostensibly designed to simplify the subsidisation of food production but soon became complex and bureaucratic.
  • Share (Plough) - That part of the plough which operates horizontally and cuts the furrow bottom.
  • Shearling - A young sheep between its first and second shearing. Sheep are normally sheared once a year.
  • Shuttle - A device on a tractor or handler which allows direction to be reversed at the flick of a lever with no requirement to use the clutch.
  • Side Knife - When combining crops such as canola where the foliage is dense and tangled, a vertical side knife is used on the combine header to cut through the stems and prevent the header becoming entangled in the crop.
  • Sidlings - When working a field with multiple slopes, it may be necessary to traverse across the hill. The tractor and implement tend to slide down this slope or crab across the hill, these bouts are sidlings.
  • Silage - Grass or other crops that have been cut, allowed to wilt but not completely dry out, and are then preserved in plastic wrapping or in a large mound or pit (called a clamp) from which all air is excluded. Silage is fed to livestock through the winter when fresh grass is not available
  • Silo - A tower, generally cylindrical made of steel or concrete used to store grain or silage in an airtight atmosphere. It is filled from the top and emptied at the bottom.
  • Slag - A by-product of the iron industry, slag consists of mainly silica and lime with many trace elements. This may be used to improve the fertility of grassland.
  • Slurry - Animal dung mixed with water or urine. It can be stored in a slurry lagoon before being spread on fields as a fertiliser.
  • Speaning - Northern term. Weaning, especially of lambs.
  • Spear (Grain) - A tubular, pointed instrument about 2 metres long which has apertures that may be opened once it has been pushed into a pile of grain allowing a representative sample to be taken.
  • Sprayer - A term used for an implement used for applying pesticides or liquid fertiliser to crops. Generally nozzles convert liquid under pressure to droplets
  • Spreader - (Manure) spreader is an implement resembling a trailer which has powered rotors to chop and spread manure evenly.
  • Staggers - Medical condition caused by a lack of magnesium in lactating stock.
  • Steer - A castrated bull.
  • Stirk - Generally, a heifer or bullock over twelve months old.
  • Stogging - (West Country) see poaching.
  • Stores - Animals bred for meat production sold before they are ready to be killed. A farmer breeds them and rears them through their early life when they are at greatest risk from disease but because they are small they need relatively little food. They are sold as stores to someone who has plenty of feed available and specialises in fattening them.
  • Stolon - A stem running horizontally on the soil surface which may produce shoots or roots.
  • Stone - Measure of weight equal to 14 lbs. 8 stone equalled one hundredweight.
  • Stook - A group of 6 or 8 sheaves of corn which were stacked on end in pairs to allow the grain and straw to dry.
  • Store cattle/sheep - Animals grown slowly to just below their potential, they are bought and made ready for slaughter by Finishers.
  • Straights - Single ingredient animal feedstuffs. 'Straight' barley means just barley and nothing else. Farmers may buy or grow two or three straights and mix them to produce a balanced diet.
  • Straight - Straight (fertiliser) is one which contains only one nutrient e.g. nitogen or potash as opposed to a compound which contains more than one.
  • Straw - That part of the crop that is left after thrashing the grain. It may be baled for use as stock bedding or low grade feed or chopped and incorporated to help improve soil structure.
  • Strobilurin - A recent development in fungicides using chemicals extracted from another fungus. They have a suppressive effect on other fungi but also assist the plant in remaining green.
  • Stubble - The remains of the plant stem left behind after harvesting a crop.
  • Subsoil - That layer of soil normally below cultivation depth but which has a great effect on the performance of the topsoil. Subsoiling is an operation where a deep cultivator runs through the subsoil at a depth of around 450 mm when the soil is dry to shatter it.
  • Suckler cow - The mother of a calf raised for beef production
  • Suffolk - (Sheep) A broad, long and heavy sheep used in meat production generally by crossing with other breeds such as mules or texel.
  • Sugar Beet - A variety of beet (Beta vulgaris) which is specifically grown because of it's high sugar content which can be processed to produce quality sugars.
  • Sulphur - A non metallic, trace element which is essential in plant growth. Atmospheric deposition has been adequate to replenish soil reserves until recently when fossil fuel emissions have been 'cleaned up'. Sulphur must now be applied to crops in fertilisers.
  • Swath - A row of grass or straw which is laid ready for baling or similar operation.
  • Swede - A brassica root crop commonly used for feeding livestock either in situ in the field or after lifting and carting. Most 'turnips' in shops are actually swedes. Also known as 'Swedish Turnip' or 'Rutabaga'



  • Telescopic - Telescopic handlers are a development of the traditional forklift. They have a boom which can be raised or lowered within which is another section which can be extended to give greater height or reach. Most can have a variety of attachments fitted such as grain buckets manure forks bale grabs or pallet forks.
  • Thrashing Mill - Before combines most grain was separated from straw by means of permanently sited mills in farm buildings. The next step before combines were large mobile mills. The principle of thrashing and separation has changed little over the years.
  • Three-Point Linkage - Ferguson's invention of a connection that permitted a tractor to lift as well as drag a plough or other implement. This made it possible to cultivate a much wider range of soils than before.
  • Tick - A type of mite which is suited only to one host animal per species. They feed on the blood of the host.
  • Tiller - Strictly a secondary flowering/seedbearing stalk in wheat or other cereal plant. Desirable in that the plant produces a greater number of seeds per seed planted. The term is sometimes used loosely to refer to any, including the primary, flowering stalk.
  • Tillering - The stage a plant goes through when side shoots are developing which each may carry its own flower and ear. Each such shoot is a tiller.
  • Tilth - The quality of a seedbed. The finer the tilth the better protected the seeds are and the better the soil/seed contact for moisture transfer.
  • Tine - A rigid or sprung leg of a cultivator which carries a wearing 'point'.
  • Tonne - A (metric) tonne consists of 1000 kilograms. An imperial ton equals 1016 kg.
  • Top Dress - Applying fertiliser to the surface of soil (normally in a growing crop) so that rain will wash the nutrients into the soil.
  • Topping - Cutting down weeds and grass that have grown too long. The equivalent of mowing the lawn.
  • Townsend 'Turnip' - Turnip' Townsend devised a winter feeding regime whereby root crops were grown for animal fodder. Prior to this most livestock was slaughtered in the autumn and the remainder barely survived on hay until the spring. Modern silage systems have largely replaced the root crops.
  • Tramline - A method to mark a field by halting seed flow during drilling to leave blank strips in the crop which subsequent tractor journeys may be made. Essential for the accurate application of pesticides and fertiliser.
  • Triticale - A cereal crop that is a cross between rye and wheat.
  • Truck Farm(ing) - USA: Term equivalent to 'Market Garden'’. Truck means to trade or barter - still sometimes used as in: 'I will have no truck with him.'
  • Tull Jethro - Invented a seed drill. The sowing of seed in rows made it possible to use a horsedrawn hoe and thereby increase efficiency.
  • Tup - A male sheep. Another word for 'ram'



  • Unfinished lambs - Stores - Butchers will only buy lambs that have reached a certain weight and level of fatness. How long it takes a lamb to grow to this size varies according to breed, birth weight and food available. Some lambs finish sooner than others. On hill farms where there is not enough outdoor feed for lambs, any remaining at the end of the year may be sold as stores, to be finished on lowland farms during the winter and spring.



  • Warble Fly - The larva of the warble fly cause much discomfort to cattle as it moves from the hoof to the animal's back under the skin.
  • Weaner Pellets - See Cake. Small or juvenile animal pellets are usually smaller in size with adjusted ingredients.
  • Weaning - Gradually leading young animals to be less dependant on their mother's milk and become independent and eat solid foods.
  • Weed - 'A plant growing in the wrong place.' End users have demanded fewer weed seeds in grain etc. over the years requiring fields to become weed free. Field margins however maintain the diversity necessary to support various 'weeds'.
  • Wether - A castrated male sheep.
  • Wheat - The major cereal crop grown in the UK. Wheat falls into two categories, hard, generally suitable for milling (flour) and soft, usually used for distilling animal feed and biscuit making.
  • Wheatfeed - A byproduct of flour milling. It contains fragments of bran, seedcoat and some flour. Rather dusty but a useful animal food.
  • Wild Oat - (Avena Fatua) A grass weed which has incredible survival traits. It can be a major problem in cereal crops where it reduces yield and grain quality.
  • Windrow - Similar to a swath. The crop is laid in rows to be dried by the wind and sun.
  • Worm - As opposed to earthworm worms are generally intestinal worms of livestock which are normally contracted by infected pasture. Animals may be treated with anthelmintics to control worms.



  • Yard - Multi-purpose word describing areas in and around buildings, usually where stock is kept, things stored, or used by traffic.
  • Yeld - Northern term for a ewe which is not carrying lambs, when expected to be pregnant.
  • Yellow Rust - A disease of cereals which is generally controlled when treatments for other diseases are made. Yellow pustules appear on the leaf and develop between the veins to give a striped effect.
  • Yew - An evergreen hardwood tree noted for it's use in making longbows. Common in churchyards it has many myths attached to it.
  • Yow - A slang term for a female sheep



  • Zero grazing - Fields of grass are grown but the animals are not allowed to graze them. Instead, the grass is cut regularly and taken to the animals. It has the advantage that fields are never poached and all the grass is used rather than animals just grazing the best bits. Against this must be set the cost of machinery, fuel and labour
  • Zoonosis - Zoonosis is any infectious disease that can be transmitted from animals, both wild and domestic, to humans.