Activity Learning
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From about 1730 onwards the method of farming used in Lowland Scotland underwent a dramatic change. The changes started in East Lothian and spread throughout the land, except for the Highlands and Islands where
they didn't take effect for many years.


The old run-rig system had to be replaced for a number of reasons

1. The population was rising, causing a demand for more arable land.

2. This forced the farmers to use their poorer land for crops and removed valuable grazing land.

3. As more land was put under the plough the demand for animals i.e horses to pull the plough increased, yet their grazing land was disappearing.

4. The top soil was becoming exhausted so the harvests were poor.

5. The people paid their rent in kind, but the landowners wanted money. The old system of laird and kinsman was dying.

The land had to be improved to break out of this difficult situation, but the common folk couldn't do it as they didn't
have the money or knowledge. It was left to the landowners to force the change upon them.


The land was improved in a number of ways

1. The poor land was helped by the addition of fertiliser, by the howking and burning of limestone, brought from various quarries. At this time Fife was a noted exporter of lime. In Ayrshire the introduction of the turnip allowed over-wintering of cattle and the breeding of the "Kinniken Coo" the Ayrshire breed from Cunninghame.

2. The ditches between the rigs had to be cleared.

3. The marshland, especially at the riverside had to be drained.

4. The rigs were straightened.

5. Neighbouring rigs were joined together to make larger units and were worked by one farmer.

6. The livestock had to share the same land as the crops so a method of separating them form the crops had to be introduced. The answer was to enclose each field with a hedgerow or a dry stone dyke.

7. To keep the land fertile the crops and animals were moved from field to field each year. Some fields were left fallow for a year, i.e. without a crop.

8. Many trees were planted at the edge of the field which served as windbreaks and, when mature, could be cut for timber.