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What evidence can you find to describe and explain the agricultural revolution of the 18th Century?

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Introduction

Introduction History Everyone is familiar with the term "Industrial Revolution", but the "Agricultural Revolution" that preceded it and ran parallel to it was equally important. What evidence can you find to describe and explain the agricultural revolution of the 18th Century? The agricultural revolution was unlike most in that it was a revolution of phases, new crops and crop rotation, improved breading methods and new agricultural techniques. The main reason for the changes was that due to the industrialisation and urbanisation the population was growing and therefore so was the rise in need for agriculture. The agricultural revolution was a very slow process. The first phase was the introduction of new crops. There were two sorts of fodder crops introduced; 'artificial grasses', such as clover, and roots such as turnips. These crops provided animal fodder which led to better soil fertility. There were other methods such as marling, liming and flooding the meadows next to the rivers. ...read more.

Middle

The second stage of improvement was selective breeding with the aim to produce better quality sheep and cattle. Robert Bakewell has the highest reputation of all the eighteenth century breeders. He pioneered breading methods which were to be later adopted and improved on by other breeders. His aim was to breed a sheep that would fatten quickly as it currently took 4-5 years for sheep to be fat enough to go to the butcher. The result wasn't a great success. Although the weight was gained quickly the mutton was very fatty and had to be sold at a reduced price. About 1780 John Ellman improved on Bakewell's method and bred the highly successful Southdown sheep. This produced good mutton and wool. The Colling brothers in Durham bred good beef cattle out of shorthorn stock which was also good for milk. At the start of the eighteenth century most of the arable land was still farmed in open fields and it was thought that if agriculture was to advance a new field system would have to be adopted. ...read more.

Conclusion

If they decided not to partake in the enclosure then the only choice left was to sell out to larger landowners. The open field system was not without its faults. It took a long time to get between widely scattered lands; the waste in land used to make the pathways and tracks among the fields; farmers who let weeds grow or plant dieses could affect others and damage to crops caused by unfenced animals. These were possible effects and still didn't change people's opinions that the open field method was better. The poem "The desert village" by Oliver Goldsmith suggests that the working man or the pheasants did not appreciate the changes. They felt angry and their land and their lives have been taken from them without much choice, "But a bold peasantry, their country's pride, When once destroyed, can never be supplied". The larger landowners however where grateful of the changes which brought them better productive land and therefore more money. As the population grew and grew produce was in high demand leaving landowners the ability to raise prices and make even more money. ...read more.

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