Farming 1950s to the Present Day

Farming in the second half of the 20th century began in much the same traditional way as it had been in the first half. Even as recently as 1970, the farms tended to specialise - there were four dairy farms: two cereal-growing and two stock-raising. The chief crops were wheat and barley, and the cultivated area was almost equally divided between pasture and arable.

Now the principal crops are wheat and oilseed rape (almost unknown only 20 years ago), with peas and beans. Three farms grow barley, one oats and one a plantation of cricket bat willows.

Livestock comprises about 800 sheep, over 500 pigs, cattle including one herd of Highland cattle, and horses, including thoroughbreds. There is a chicken farmer, and one with 40 hives of bees.

One farm uses agricultural contractors, the others are all self-farmed and, apart from some casual labour at harvest time, the total number of employees is six in an adult population of some 1,700. (It was stated in 1795 that most of the inhabitants were employed in agriculture, and this was also very probably true back in medieval times.)

Pasture vs. arable

The last 20 years or so have seen drastic reductions in pasture. No doubt BSE has played a part recently, but the main factor is probably the cost of labour.

There is now six times as much arable land as pasture. Many old hedgerows have been removed so that pasture could be made into fields capable of using modern machinery. This has contributed to reductions in the agricultural workforce.


Tractors, ploughs, combines, cultivators, sprayers, muck spreaders, drills, fertiliser spreaders, hedgers and hay-making equipment are all in use. Quad bikes and an agri-buggy are used to get around the farms in place of the horses of olden times.

Modern combine

For further information about Deddington's farming history, visit: