agricultural revolution

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The Agricultural Revolution: 

The Agricultural Revolution Britain needed more food Farms were still run on the medieval strip system new ideas and machinery were being developed By Mrs Sims-King Downloaded from

Disadvantages of the old system: 

Disadvantages of the old system Field left fallow People have to walk over your strips to reach theirs No proper drainage Animals can trample crops and spread disease Difficult to take advantage of new farming techniques Because land in different fields takes time to get to each field No hedges or fences

So what?: 

So what? So this is an inefficient system and only produces enough food to feed you and your family, there is very little extra. Towns are growing, the people in towns need feeding so extra food is needed. No corn is being imported because of the war with France, so more corn is needed

What is a Revolution and how can you have a farming revolution?: 

What is a Revolution and how can you have a farming revolution? But what has that got to do with farming? A revolution is any fundamental change or reversal of conditions, a great and sometimes violent change or innovation

All right,so there was going to be a great change... : 

All right,so there was going to be a great change... What exactly was this great change? Great changes, you mean - and innovations All right CHANGES.. First of all, there was enclosure, then there was the new machinery such as the seed drill and horse plough, not to mention marling and selective breeding…..

Enclosures? : 

Enclosures? This meant enclosing the land. The open fields were divided up and everyone who could prove they owned some land would get a share. Dividing the open land into small fields and putting hedges and fences around them. Everyone had their own fields and could use them how they wished. Open land and common land would also be enclosed and divided up.


Nothing - if you could prove you owned the land, if you had the money for fences and hedges and if you could afford to pay the commissioners to come and map the land, not to mention the cost of an Act of Parliament. So what’s wrong with that?


So did people want to enclose their land? Well, some did and some didn’t. If they did not agree it was hard luck. If the owners of four fifths of the land agreed they could force an Act of Parliament- there was a great increase in the number of these in the eighteenth century, from 30 a year to 60, then from 1801 to 1810 there were 906, nearly 3 million hectares were enclosed.

Were there winners and losers?: 

Were there winners and losers? Yes, the better off farmers and landowners gained the most - the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. People who had no written proof of ownership lost their land altogether. Some couldn’t afford to pay for fences and had to sell their land. These people either became labourers on other peoples land or headed for the towns to try and get a job. One farm labourer said: ‘All I know is that I had a cow and an Act of Parliament has taken it from me.’ There were riots in some villages.

Selective Breeding?: 

Selective Breeding? Some farmers such as Robert Bakewell and the Culley brothers concentrated on selective breeding. This meant only allowing the fittest and strongest of their cattle, sheep, pigs and horses to mate. You can tell how successful they were: In 1710 the average weight for cattle was 168 Kg by 1795 - it was 363 Kg

What other new ideas were there? : 

What other new ideas were there? Publicity Seed drill Crop rotation New ploughs and hoes Marling


Publicity?! Yeah, books were written on farming, there were model farms set up - George III set up one at Windsor. The Board of Agriculture was set up and Arthur Young, the new secretary, went round the country recording the progress of the revolution and others could read his report to find out more. Agricultural shows with competitions were held and people could exchange ideas and see the latest things.

But it wasn’t all good news: 

But it wasn’t all good news In addition there were change in the way the land looked from open fields to a sort of patchwork quilt. Changes in the shape of a village as people could build on their own land New machines meant less people were needed to work the land - so there was unemployment, enclosure meant people lost land - this meant losing their homes as they had nowhere to grow food and there was little work- so they moved to towns.

Was it a revolution?: 

Was it a revolution? Well, there were some dramatic and rapid changes in some villages but really the whole thing was quite gradual. After all farming had been changing slowly for a long time. Enclosures had been happening even in Tudor times. So perhaps it was more evolution than revolution.

Your tasks: 

Your tasks 1. Find out about crop rotation, what were the crops and how did they rotate? Who had the idea? 2. Agricultural shows - who had the idea? How did he encourage his tenants to use the new fangled ideas? 3. What is marling? 4. Jethro Tull - who is he and why is 1701 significant? 5. New ploughs and hoes? How were they different? And finally How did farming change between 1701 and 1850?

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