Documentary, cartographic and archaeological sources suggest that agrarian practice in the north east of Scotland from the late sixteenth to the mid eighteenth centuries was more diverse, dynamic and targeted than often supposed. The evidence suggests that Strathbogie saw extensive agricultural expansion throughout the entire period, especially in areas demonstrating earlier under-utilisation. Real improvement and expansion occurred as a result of developing existing traditional systems of agriculture, which was socially at odds with the later and much vaunted ‘Improvements’. These practices maximised productivity by targeting the production of a range of commodities at their most appropriate ecological zones within the overall landscape of the estate, the Lordship of Huntly. Such a model for production appears to have influenced the settlement strategy within those individual ecological zones. However, an over-emphasis upon grain production may, ultimately, have resulted in unsustainable practices, contrasting with earlier more ecologically-targeted ones.