Wiltshire is a county in South West England. The county comprises Salisbury Plain, the Marlborough Downs and part of Cranborne Chase. The county town is Trowbridge, and other principal towns and cities include Chippenham, Devizes, Salisbury, Swindon and Warminster.
John Fowler of Melksham invented the steam driven plough in 1852, used around the world to bring uncultivated land into production. Avon Rubber/Milkrite – based in Melksham are the market leaders for milking cluster technology.
The predominance of chalk down land in Wiltshire lends itself to large scale arable and diary production, with a trend, as in much of the UK, for these businesses to become larger to ensure profitability and benefit from economies of scale. Salisbury Plain encompasses nearly 25% of the land within Wiltshire and is managed by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). Some of this land is rented to local farmers for arable, beef and lamb production but the majority is used by MOD for training and as a result is an important area for wildlife. Due to training needs there has been an increase in permanent grassland on Salisbury Plain, with a corresponding increase in beef and lamb production.
Recent trends in the Wiltshire agricultural sector have seen an increase in production of wheat, milk, beef and lamb with a reduction in oilseed rape as a result of changes in pesticide use/legislation. The sector employs 3000 people or 1% of the total employed in the county. The sector has seen a 20% increase in GVA over the last twenty years, and for 2017 stands at £150m. However, this increase is below the average increase for all industries in Wiltshire.