Definition of arable in English:



  • 1(of land) used or suitable for growing crops.

    ‘acres of arable land’
    ‘open arable fields’
    • ‘After all, of the 42 million hectares of potentially arable land in Zambia, only about three-million is under cultivation.’
    • ‘Prior to that it was common to find records of the foundation of new settlements and associated land clearances for arable fields.’
    • ‘For his part, all the king had to do was give away a few hectares of arable land to his lowlier vassals and perhaps throw in a coronet to sweeten the deal for his more well-heeled subjects.’
    • ‘While some local authorities are responding to the Government's call to open up the countryside, there are still too many who have not opened rights of way that carry no risk and in some cases are on purely arable land, say the organisation.’
    • ‘A third of Russia's arable land lies fallow and production costs are one-third lower than those for American wheat farmers.’
    • ‘Soya has become the cash crop for half of Argentina's arable land, more than 11m hectares, most situated on fragile pampas lands on the vast plains.’
    • ‘They had owned about 30 per cent of the country's most fertile arable land.’
    • ‘This provides enough food for about 10 people for 365 days a year from each hectare of arable land, depending on how much they eat.’
    • ‘Some cyanobacteria do not require fresh water, nitrate - based fertilizer, or even arable land to grow and flourish.’
    • ‘These planters devoted all of their arable land to the production of export staples.’
    • ‘Over the rolling, variegated hills, where virulent yellow rape seed mingles with brown arable land and verdant fruit farms, a grey, murky pallor is cast.’
    • ‘But uncomfortable as dust-storms may be for town and city dwellers, by far their worst effect is the stripping of topsoil from Australia's arable land.’
    • ‘Primarily they enrich the soil by rotating it into perennial grass and alfalfa pasture, grazing cattle on the fields for up to six or eight years before returning the land to arable production.’
    • ‘In turn, growing consumer demand fires competition for fresh water, energy, arable land, forest products, and fish.’
    • ‘Land used for grazing sheep and cattle together with ploughed arable land combine to form a patchwork of field colours and textures.’
    • ‘This area of the nation had once been an incredibly rich source of arable land.’
    • ‘Known as the breadbasket of Scotland, on account of its fertile arable land, East Lothian is also yielding impressive profits for those lucky enough to own property there.’
    • ‘The fertile Brahmaputra valley allowed the people on its banks fertile arable land in ample quantity.’
    • ‘The eventual consequences of this decision were, in effect, to ‘privatize’ most of the arable land, leading to the neglect of public land still available for rent.’
    • ‘After France's loss of her colonial empire the merchants of Nantes and Bordeaux sank their capital in the arable land and vineyards of the hinterland.’
    fertile, productive, fecund, fruitful, lush
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    1. 1.1 (of crops) able to be grown on arable land.
      ‘arable crops’
      • ‘These covered cattle, rare breeds, arable crops, forestry, bees and vintage farming machinery.’
      • ‘These can be manufactured from arable crops like oil seed rape and sugar beet.’
      • ‘The economy of the country was based on rearing cattle and, increasingly, sheep, and gradually extending (from waste or forest) the acreage under arable crops.’
      • ‘As someone who farms arable crops near Swindon, I am only too aware that farmers are struggling.’
      • ‘In addition to a range of arable crops, there are 25 hectares of permanent grass supporting a suckler herd and sheep flock.’
      • ‘Friends of the Earth said the maps show that these species, which are known to cross-pollinate with the arable crop, are widespread across the whole country.’
      • ‘Clover supplies nitrogen for crop growth and precedes arable crops in the rotation.’
      • ‘So you do have to go into the arable crops and jump over obstacles; and that is not popular with farmers.’
      • ‘The lowland zone supported dense human communities which, given the peaceful conditions imposed by Rome, could grow a surplus of arable crops and animals.’
      • ‘They also grow arable crops such as winter wheat and barley.’
      • ‘Its output will be equivalent to the power needs of 2,000 homes, and hundreds of farmers in the surrounding area will be asked to switch land from arable crops to elephant grass.’
      • ‘For example, nitrate applications to arable crops increased by 44% over this period, partly to fuel winter cereals and oil-seed rape.’
      • ‘First, he suspected that the wheat - the last crop in his arable rotation - wasn't getting enough residual fertility.’
      • ‘Where the two kinds of terrain were found in close proximity, mixed husbandry, allowing equal or nearly equal importance to arable crops and livestock, was common.’
      • ‘The uphill fallow fields, where the Pwo grow rice and other arable crops, are normally up to a half-day walk from their streamside homes.’
      • ‘Although it is predominately a dairy business, he also rears beef and grows 52 acres of arable crops.’
      • ‘Scientists are investigating how long geese may be exposed to pesticides as they move about and feed on arable crops in North Yorkshire.’
      • ‘Just before the late summer sunburst farmers were in desperate straits because so little of their arable crop had been harvested, and huge losses were expected.’
      • ‘And why do 45 per cent of agricultural funds go to the arable crop sector?’
      • ‘Low-intensity agricultural system based on fishing and fowling was replaced by a high-intensity system based on arable crops.’
    2. 1.2 Concerned with growing arable crops.
      ‘arable farming’
      • ‘The five tenant farmers on the estate will continue working the land but ways are being sought to help those in arable farming to convert to grazing to help maintain the appearance of the land as it once was.’
      • ‘The Chase itself is a rolling chalkland landscape, with sheep scattering the uplands and mainly arable farming taking place in the valleys.’
      • ‘Estates with relatively more grazing were more efficient than estates with relatively more arable or mixed farming.’
      • ‘Already, he estimates the disastrous growing season has cost him thousands of pounds - and it's the same or worse for arable farmers and market gardeners in many parts of the country.’
      • ‘In the cereal sector, the calendar has once again turned to harvest where arable farmers pit their skills against mother nature to combine the driest and highest quality grain.’
      • ‘Threatened farmland birds, insects and plants will benefit from new habitats created through the introduction of environmental grants to arable farmers, the Government announced yesterday.’
      • ‘Roger Hopley, a sheep and arable farmer in Staffordshire, said: ‘This is the first fine day for a while, and the lads have a week's work to catch up on, so it's been quieter.’’
      • ‘Farmers and landowners are being urged to save rare arable plants by wildlife conservation charity, The Game Conservancy Trust.’
      • ‘Livestock farming and arable farming are both major influences on Britain's wild plant flora.’
      • ‘The innovative Tellus teaching pack narrates the adventures of four young Europeans as they explore arable farming, fruit and vegetables, livestock farming, fishing and forestry.’
      • ‘Compensation now available to be claimed by the Government is estimated at £202m; this covers livestock, dairy and arable farmers.’
      • ‘Unlike previous periods of population pressure, when farmers switched to arable cultivation to feed the people and reduced the number of animals, in the eighteenth century new rotations could sustain more animals.’
      • ‘When we get this harvest behind us, the next question facing the struggling arable farmer will be whether to drill as many cereals this autumn.’
      • ‘The arable division of Federated Farmers had expressed support for the idea, and the Government was considering what to do about that growing pressure.’
      • ‘THE 52-year-old farmer from Wistow Lordship near Selby works a mixed arable and cattle farm that has been in his family's hands for a century.’
      • ‘These were of relatively good quality and well suited to arable cultivation, but suited also to pastoral husbandry.’
      • ‘The farming operation at Baydon Farm was primarily arable, whilst that at Park Farm was primarily a dairy unit.’
      • ‘If they are arable farmers they probably receive support under the Arable Area Payment Scheme.’
      • ‘Small farmers were no more likely to report morbidity than those with large farms, nor was there a difference between arable and livestock farmers.’
      • ‘Soil erosion was mainly the result of arable cultivation brought about by the demand for cereals and legumes.’
      farmable, cultivable, cultivatable, ploughable, tillable
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mass noun
  • Arable land or crops.

    ‘vast areas of arable and pasture’
    • ‘Since seed - yield ratios did not increase agricultural productivity, increase in the arable from reclamation projects such as those in the Veneto, Piedmont, and the Tuscan Maremma were necessary.’
    • ‘My Essex is coastal, a mixture of marshland and arable on the gentlest of river valleys.’
    • ‘Meurig Raymond, whose enterprises include arable and beef production, warned that world grain output had not kept pace with consumption.’
    • ‘Mr Fuller has been part of JSR Farming for about 30 years, managing arable of about 900 acres and livestock on 500 acres at Givendale.’
    • ‘The landscape would generally have been fairly open, with a good mixture of arable and pasture.’
    • ‘Agricultural improvement required the elimination of the fallow and the raising of yields, but such innovation required more animals: manure-machines for the arable.’
    • ‘In eastern England especially, attempts were made to farm the existing arable more intensively.’
    • ‘The farm had always been mixed arable and dairy.’
    • ‘The wet fields were drained and converted to arable and any lapwing rash enough to make a nest could be guaranteed to have it rolled out of existence as the growing wheat was cultivated.’
    • ‘As well as the cows we have five sheep on set-aside land and arable for feed.’


Late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin arabilis, from arare ‘to plough’.