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Agricultural Revolution: Remarkable Increase In Agriculture

by Freeha Sabir
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Agricultural Revolution

The Agricultural Revolution was a significant event in British agriculture that happened between the mid-17th century and late 19th centuries. It involved changes to farming methods, including crop rotation, selective breeding, and more productive use of arable land. These changes helped to improve the quality of life for people who did not have it before.

It had a profound impact on the global food supply.  It led to an increase in crop yields and improved item longevity for farmers and their crops. It also led to less food scarcity and increased crop production. In addition, the increased food production in England and Wales led to the rapid growth of population, from 5.5 million in 1700 to over 9 million by 1801.

Agricultural Revolution

The Agricultural Revolution is the largest and most significant farming event in history, responsible for allowing Britain to achieve an increase in agricultural productivity. It took place in Britain due to changes in labor and land productivity during the mid-17th and late 19th centuries. Agricultural production and population growth continued to be among the highest in the world for centuries due to a lack of technological innovation. Yet, agricultural production, however, grew faster than the population in this period of time, and productivity remained highly significant.

Food supplies have increased due to the application of new scientific methods in agriculture, as well as the addition of other vegetables and fruits that were not previously available. As a consequence of the increase in the food supply, though, the population in England and Wales increased rapidly from 5.5 million in 1700 to over 9 million by 1801. In the late 1800s, however, the demand for food increased by 50%, which led to hunger and an unending diet. As the population tripled to over 32 million in the 19th century, domestic food production decreased further and gave rise to food imports.


The Agriculture Revolution has been cited as the cause of the industrial revolution. The Industrial Revolution is associated with the increase in productivity that led to the development of factories and other industrial settings. The shift from manual labor to machines led to an increased emphasis on efficiency and economy, which caused the rise of industry and productivism. The increase in knowledge and experience caused by this process of change created a more equal society but also brought about changes to the way people lived.

Historians believe that it was not a sudden event that led to a change unparalleled with the rest of the world. It was more like the result of an overall strategy and plan that saw various steps within the overall plan, each one is significant in its own way. The name “the agricultural revolution” is given to this process, and it see-as many years of work by both government and privateers.

Crop Rotation

The Agricultural Revolution was a time when countries such as England, Scotland, and Wales developed new technologies that allowed them to improve their crop yields. The most famous example is the Norfolk four-course rotation, crop rotation, which is the important component of present-day America. In other words, it led to increasing crop yields by reducing fallowing.

Agricultural Revolution was the unprecedented increase in agricultural production


Define: “Crop rotation is the practice of growing different types of crops in the same area at various times throughout the year to facilitate the restoration of nutrients to plants and to reduce the buildup of pathogens and pests.”


Crop rotation is a great way to increase the fertility of the soil by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted plants. This helps to improve the structure and stability of the soil, as well as the presence of plant nutrients in the soil. As it is now known, the Norfolk System was a system of land management used in England before the 18th century. This system rotates crops so that as plant growth proceeds, different nutrients are taken from the soil. Moreover, it uses labor at times when demand was not at peak levels to achieve the goals of the business.


Planting cover crops such as turnips and clover was not permitted under the common field system because they interfered with access to the fields and other people’s livestock could graze the turnips.

A two-field crop rotation system was developed during the Middle Ages, during which one field was left fallow or turned into pasture for a set period of time in order to replenish nutrients. As an alternative, later a three-year three-field rotation was implemented, with different crops on each of the two fields. The first two fields are planted with rye, wheat, barley, and legumes, such as peas and beans, while the third field is fallow.

With a three-crop system, fallow land typically makes up 10-30 percent of arable land. Nearly every field was planted with a different crop. Peas and beans were periodically sown in previously fallow fields over the next two centuries, restoring the fertility of some arable land. In an empty field, planting legumes has increased the growth of plants since legumes contain bacteria that fix nitrogen from the air and fix it in a form which can be absorbed by plants. Sometimes, flax and members of the mustard family were grown, as well.

Read More: Scottish Agricultural Revolution

Convertible farming, whereby a field was converted from pasture to grain, introduced pasture into the crop rotation process. Since nitrogen is gradually accumulated in the pasture over time, plowing pasture and planting grains has produced high yields for a number of years. However, the main disadvantage of convertible farming was the hard work associated with the division of pastures and the difficulty of planting them.

In the 1800s, the farmers in Flanders were early to the game and discovered a system that used turnips and clover as forage crops instead of maize, wheat, and other three-year crops. This system was very effective because it felled the competition head-on and allowed to keep all the tooling and manuring costs associated with a four-year crop rotation. The System still works today! Today, 1/3 of all global farming is done with this system, used from 1875 to 1876.

four-field rotation system

The four-field rotation system was a method of soil management used by farmers to restore fertility and nutrients that had been lost with the previous crops. It allowed them to restore land that was damaged by pests and diseases. The turnips first showed up in England in 1638 but they were not widely used until about 1750. They were most common between the 1840s and 1930s but began to disappear during World War II.

Before turnips and clover were extensively grown in England, 20% of the arable land was fallow. The fallow land referred to the unproductive meadow-land which was located between the farmsteads and included all the grasses that grow on fields.

The best planting order is for wheat, barley, turnips, and clover to be planted successively on each field. Turnips can be used as fodder for animals as well as weed control — ruminants can eat their leaves and roots throughout the summer and winter.

The growth of cover crops such as clover and green manure has been found to be an excellent forage source for cows in North America. This means that they can get their hay, straw, and milk from the field without having to worry about finding it elsewhere. The addition of clover and turnips allowed more animals to be kept through the winter, which in turn produced more milk, cheese, meat, and manure.

The addition of clover and turnips also allowed more vegetables to be grown on land that would not have been able to produce food. When these vegetables are used or enjoyed by humans they are turned into food. Vegetables can also be used as a fertilizer for plants because they provide without taking away pollution from other sources.

Charles ‘Turnip’ Townshend, an agriculturalist who was a great enthusiast of four-field crop rotation and the cultivation of turnips. Townshend is often mentioned, together with Jethro Tull, Robert Bakewell, and others, as a major figure in England’s Agricultural Revolution, contributing to the adoption of agricultural practices that supported the increase in Britain’s population between 1700 and 1850.

Other Practices

1. Selective Breeding

The topic of breeding was of great interest to scientists at the time. They were studying how different species could be improved through genetic research and came up with ways to inbred plants so that they would not grow too much together. When they finally got their plant, they were able to use it successfully and became the first really high-yield crop ever grown. In the mid-18th century, two British agriculturalists, Robert Bakewell and Thomas Coke led to the practice of selective breeding to stabilize certain qualities in order to reduce genetic diversity.

Selective Breeding in plants

The Bakewell sheep experiment is one of the most famous and well-known cases in British history. It took place between 1879 and 1881. The purpose of the study was to find a way to improve the growth of wool by breeding Sheep with cows. The study found that it was possible to improve the growth of wool by breeding Shepherds with Cows. This case has been cited as one of the reasons why we should focus on animal husbandry in farming.

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The Bakewell was the first to breed cattle to be used primarily for beef. In 1892, they introduced a new type of cow that was larger and more fine-boned than any other cow before or after it. They also were the first to breed sheep to be used primarily for meat.

Previously, animals were kept for the purpose of pulling plows and for dairy uses, with beef from surplus males as an additional bonus. As more and more farmers followed Bakewell’s lead, farm animals increased dramatically in size and quality. Now, they are being used not just for pulling but also for driving automobiles and other vehicles.

2. Land Conversion

With the conversion of pastures into arable land, the British government was able to increase the production of crops and other food items for its people. Through these land conversions, arable land in Britain increased by 10-30%.

The Flanders and the Netherlands experiment showed that with enough land, farmers could do better on crops than anyone who was not a farmer. The Flemish and the Dutch farmers were able to use their land alike a fair bit, using it to the fullest extent possible while also taking advantage of every bit of it. The large population size didn’t stop there, though; the farmers were also able to use their land for economic development.

Finally, these experiments showed the folly of farming as it was being done from the late 1800s until World War I by people who thought they could rule the world alone through hard work. Furthermore, this also showed that it was not just about getting food to people – it was also about creating more opportunities for life outside of work.

conversion of pastures into arable land

The region became a pioneer in canal building, soil restoration and maintenance, soil drainage, and land reclamation technology. Dutch experts like Cornelius Vermuyden brought some of this technology to Britain. British experts such as Arthur Conan Doyle enjoyed the sight of canals there when he was visiting the area in 1892-3.

As the region grew more developed, they began to install these technologies all over the place. The work was often difficult and had a high cost, but it helped make English culture more competitive against European countries with less developed economies.

The water-meadows were used for this purpose from the 16th century until the late 20th century. These meadows allowed earlier pasturing of livestock after they were wintered on hay. They were sites of traditional farming and hunting with livestock being served off at night while during the day they supported meadow pasturing. The increased animal yields made this better for the farmer because it gave them more Hay Seeds, which are also what make up most of an agricultural country’s wealth.

New Agricultural Tools

The Agricultural Revolution was a time of great change and transformation. A significant event that effectuate large changes in society was the creation of new tools and practices that led to an improving agricultural economy. Among these tools and inventions were the plow, the seed drill, and the threshing machines.

The shift from hard labor to natural means also led to increased productivity, as can be seen from measures like crop rotation, combines, and machinery. Thus, the invention of new tools to improve the efficiency of agricultural operations is considered to be an important factor in this revolution.

Agricultural Revolution: Mechanization

The Agricultural Revolution was the first time when machines were used in agricultural operations. It consisted of three phases: the first phase was the mechanical rotation of land, which allowed farmers to produce the same amount of crops from different areas with the same yields; the second phase was the invention of new tools and methods which improved efficiency and finally, the third phase was its transformation into a commercial operation.

Furthermore, it led to an increase in the quality of foodstuffs and increased people’s productivity. It was based on the idea of reducing time to produce food so that it could be monopolized by a few entities at the expense of the general public. The key factor in this process was the mechanization and rationalization of agriculture, which led to increased efficiency and reduce costs.

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Age of Enlightenment

The coulter, ploughshare, and moldboard were all popularized during the Age of Enlightenment when progress was made. The most significant changes in design did not become common until the Age of Enlightenment when there was rapid progress. This shift allowed for better control of the machine and led to greater efficiency. In addition, it helped people to watch other machines and learn.

The Dutch acquired the iron-tipped, curved moldboard, adjustable depth plough from the Chinese in the early 17th century. The tool was used to improve crop yields by lowering the depth of ploughing of the ground. It was also used as a warfare weapon. In 1750, the Dutch began production of their own iron-tipped, curved moldboard and this type of plough continued to be produced in demand by the Dutch world during both world wars.

The Dutch plough was used by the British for other drainages as well, including Sluggiebon and the Weald. The heavy-wheeled, four-wheel drive type of plough appeared in Britain around the beginning of the twentieth century. It was a traditional two-wheeled vehicle pulled by two or four oxen. The plough was extremely successful on wet, boggy soil. But soon, it would be used on ordinary land. The method used to water seeps and rivers is both important factors in the success of the plough.

Attempt at Making Plough

A new type of plough was invented in 1730 by Joseph Foljambe, which used new shapes as the basis for the Rotherham plough, which also covered the moldboard with iron. Unlike the heavy plough, the Rotherham (or Rotherampton swing)plOUGH consisted entirely of the coulter, moldboard, and handles.

Agricultural Revolution Timeline

Later, ploughs were being made in rural foundries outside of Rotherham by the end of the 18th century. The first attempt at making plows in bulk was made by Foljambe in the 1760s, who was making large numbers of these ploughs in a factory near Rotherham.

This allowed for many small accidents where people were killed or Attend an accident when the plough they were working on went off during a flood.

By 1770, it became the most affordable and effective plough. Eventually, it spread to the United States, Scotland, and France. Perhaps, it was the first plough to be widely built in factories and the first to be commercially successful.

In 1789, Robert Ransome started casting ploughshares in a disused malting at St. Margaret’s Ditches, one of the most influential sites for manufacturing in Boston. Due to a mold failure at his foundry, molten metal in contact with cold metal caused the surface of the metal to become extremely hard – chilled casting – for which he received patents and marketed them as “self sharpening” ploughs. In 1789, Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies produced 86 plough models based on the soil types.

The business grew and prospered until it was successful enough to be bought by the English businessman William Quinbron in 1802. Quinbron turned it into a large manufacturer, producing over 1 million ploughshares per year with an output of 2 million alone by 1830.

A single-piece cast iron plough was also developed and patented by Charles Newbold in the United States. This was again improved on by Jethro Wood, a blacksmith of Scipio, New York, who made a three-part Scots Plough that allowed a broken piece to be replaced.

Introduction To Seed Drill

The seed drill was introduced to help with the process of planting seeds. Seeds can be easily and quickly properly implanted into the ground by using the seed drill. The tool is very convenient for those who are working with a large number of seeds at once.

A seed drill was first introduced in the 2nd century BCE, when it was invented by an Italian scientist named Camillo Torello. However, it is also believed that it was introduced from China to Italy in the 2nd century. The seed drill was first described in detail by Tadeo Cavalina of Bologna in 1602. Seed drills are still used today and are often called “drills”. The tools were large and heavy, and it was not easy to hold while performing the operation in a small area.

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The process of seed planting was time-consuming and more often than not, wasteful. One common method of planting seeds is by hoeing or shoveling them down into small filled graves. In 1701, the first commercial release of a seed drill was made by Jethro Tull in England. The seed drill became an important tool for planting seeds in farms and eventually became one of the most popular farming tools of its time.

Introduction To Seed Drill

Before the introduction of the seed drill, the seeds left on top of the ground above have been eaten by birds, insects, and mice. Neither the spacing nor the distance of the seeds was controlled, and the seeds were planted too closely and too far apart. The Tull’s drill was a popular tool used to sow beans or other grains in the early days of agriculture. The tool had an automatic spade motion that filled the depth of the soil space at the correct depth and spacing, then covered the seed for growth.

Tull explains how conflict with his servants prompted him to develop the seed-drill in his 1731 publication. In 1733, he developed machinery for carrying out his drill husbandry system. In his first invention, he designed a drill-plough to plant wheat and turnip seeds in drills, three rows at a time.

He struggled to implement his new methods among them, in part because they were resistant to losing their position as laborers and skills in plowing.

Early seed drills were an important part of European use during the mid-19th century. They were small, hardwood tools that could be used to drill into the soil. Seed drills had a lot of potential for this purpose, but they became less common and expensive as time went on. They began to lose their accuracy in the late 20th century, and by the 1930s they were no longer being used anymore.

A Threshing Machine

A threshing machine or thresher is an essential part of an agricultural society. It is often used to remove the seeds from the stalks and husks so that the plant can be stored. Until the 18th century, threshing was done by hand with flails, and it was a very laborious and time-consuming process, which accounted for one-quarter of agricultural labor.

The difficulties of the farm labor process were beginning to increase over time, and in 1786, Andrew Meikle invented the first threshing machine. This was a powerful tool that could separate grains from the husk. Later, the second threshing machine was also invented in 1786 by Andrew Meikle and it worked with blades that detached the seeds from the chest-high plants. However, these machines were not able to separate seeds from corn due to their shape. Meanwhile, in 1792, the first large commercial threshing machine was invented. They were used to quite a good effect until the mid-19th century.

The Enclosure Act

The enclosure movement, also known as the inclosure, was a process that was used to take away people’s traditional rights and has been accompanied by force, opposition, and even violence in the past. This is “one of the most contentious eras of agriculture and economy.”

Background: Common Land

The enclosure movement was a period of time in which land ownership became more consolidated and enclosure fences were erected to delineate property. This change had a profound impact on agriculture, as it led to the displacement of many small farmers who could no longer access common grazing land.

Traditionally, common land has been owned by a number of people, or by one person with other people holding certain traditional rights, such as grazing livestock, collecting firewood, or cutting turf for fuel.

Those who have a right to a common land jointly with others are called commoners.

The Enclosure Act

Commons were originally a part of manors in medieval England and thus belonged to the estates owned by lords of the manor under a feudal grant from the Crown or a peer, who in turn owned his estates from the Crown. Based on feudalism, the manorial system granted varying degrees of land ownership rights to different classes. In this case, the rights belonged to tenants holding plots of land within a manor, meaning the rights were appurtenant to the tenancy.

Implementation of the Acts

Essentially, the Enclosure Acts ended England’s open-field system of production, which had dominated the farming industry for centuries. They were stripped of their ownership of all the common lands and wastelands that belonged to peasants and lords. There were no more rights to the land for them. A new field and road system were created, and finally, the land was redistributed among various farmers and lords.

In the 17th century, Parliament came to power, changing the process from an informal arrangement to one regulated by law. For this purpose, more than 5,200 bills were passed by Parliament between 1604 and 1914 covering roughly a fifth of England’s territory.

Industrial Revolution

During the 1801 session, several parliamentary enclosures were passed, consisting of various strips of open fields into more compact units, and covering the rest of willow and waste. Citizens were usually compensated for the loss of their rights to commons by parliamentary enclosures which, although of poor quality and limited area, were often poorly located.

In addition, the Enclosure Movement was a significant aspect of the Agricultural Revolution. As a result of the Enclosure Acts, enacted in the 1700s, the common areas were able to be owned privately. In response to this, wealthy farmers began buying up large lands and creating more complex farms.

It is believed that enclosure contributed to the revolution. It was the farmer’s responsibility to manage enclosed land in a better way. In contemporary accounts, there was broad consensus that enclosed land held more possibilities for profit-making. As a result of the increased labor supply, the Industrial Revolution became more feasible. However, several historians believe enclosure reduced small land ownership in England relative to the Continent, while others believe it began earlier.

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Effects of the Agricultural Revolution

The increase in agricultural production and technological advancements was a big part of new population growth and new agricultural practices, leading to commuting changes and the development of a coordinated agricultural market. A major factor in the success of this revolution was the advent of new agricultural technologies, including mechanical development, that allowed for greater productivity and control over land. The technological advances also led to an upswing in the country’s economic power and food production. Because of this, it helped to change humanity’s relationship with food and agriculture.

Significance of the Agricultural Revolution

It was a time of great progress for Britain. It allowed the country to rise to the present. The Agricultural Revolution in Britain proved to be a major turning point in British history. The growth of agriculture led to the development of crop production, which in turn led to the rise in agricultural productivity. This occurred because an increase in crops resulted in an increase in prices, and as such, public support for agricultural production grew during the mid-17th century. Between 1700 and 1870, total agricultural output grew 2.7-fold, and output per worker by a similar amount.

Effects of the Agricultural Revolution

In the 19th century, British agriculture experienced the highest yields in Europe due to the Agricultural Revolution. Yields in the 19th century were 80% higher than those in continental Europe. Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium were the only countries with greater agricultural output than Britain in 1900.

It is believed that it contributed greatly to modernization and civilization. In the century leading up to World War I, grain yields in Europe increased by 60% on average, eroding Britain’s lead.

It is a myth that the Industrial Revolution in Britain led to a level of agricultural output per hectare equivalent to that of China, where agriculture had been intensively farmed for hundreds of years, including multiple crops in some parts. However, the substantial gains in British agricultural productivity were quickly reversed by foreign competition brought about by advances in transportation, refrigeration, and other technology at the end of the 19th century, as well as the exploitation of colonies.

Social Impact

From 1750 to 1800, the amount of food available for consumption increased steadily. However, the rise in productivity accelerated the decline of the agricultural share of the labor force. This increase in productivity allowed industrialization to depend on the urban workforce on which it depended – urbanites became industrial workers.

The increased rural-to-urban labor migration was a result of the effective use of agricultural productivity as a tool for marketing and product promotion. It was not due to any sudden influx of workers from the cities. To trigger a mass rural-to-urban migration, the Industrial Revolution and industrial development had to play an important role.

In 1801, it was 17% of the population in London, and it rose to 72% by 1891. The growth of cities caused rural areas to move away from their traditional practices and into new city locations. This led to the creation of large rural areas, which in turn created large urban populations. The increase in city populations results in an increased demand for food, energy, water, and other resources within these metropolitan areas.

Agricultural labor demand declined as technology advanced and tools and machines were developed. Therefore, rural workers were eventually forced to migrate to cities as a result of the Industrial Revolution as well as access to land being increasingly restricted.

New Agricultural Market Trends

In the 16th century, private marketing was first developed between individuals who could afford to market their goods and services and those who did not. In the 17th century, it became more widespread when governments began to regulate the use of public prices by professions such as printing, trade university, and shipping.

Estimation of Market Radius

The growth of industry and the rise in food prices led to a shift in production away from agriculture and towards the market. In fact, it was only after the mid-19th century that marketing began to be used specifically for agricultural products. However, this changed dramatically during World War 1.

The 16th century was a time of great change and transformation for both the world and humanity. New technologies, new ways of life, and old traditions all came together to create an era of dramatic change. The market radius was important because it factors in the price of food, drink, and other needs. It also affects the number of people who can live comfortably on a farm alone. Later, it was estimated that the market radius should be different for every type of agricultural product (16th-century market radius was about 10 miles) than it will support a town of 10,000.

Market Regulations

New Agricultural Market Trends

The next stage of development was the trade between markets, where merchants had to be able to price products correctly and make forward sales while being aware of the latest trends and developments in the market. By the late 20th century, London and other larger cities had transformed the market into one that was national in scope. By 1700, wheat had become a national commodity.

In an effort to regulate prices, market regulations were eased in 1663 when people were allowed some self-regulation to hold inventory. However, it was forbidden to withhold commodities from the market in an attempt to increase prices.

In the late 18th century, the Englishman Robert Hooke developed the idea of “self-regulation” when he showed that by adding a mechanical watch to the human body, he could measure time with accuracy. His self-regulatory theory suggested that we should stop using custom barriers and tolls in order to reduce trade and business traffic. The large market for British goods brought about the development of commercial machinists who were used to serve high-volume UK consumers at low costs.


During the 17th century, roads and inland waterways helped facilitate commerce. In the period from 1500 to 1700, road transport capacity increased by three to fourfold. It continued to improve in the nineteenth century as well. In the early 19th century, the cost of shipping a ton of freight 3,000 miles across the Atlantic was the same as transporting it 32 miles by wagon over an unimproved road.

Moreover, the development of regional markets and eventually a national market helped reduce farmers’ reliance on local markets and were less subject to having to sell at low prices into an oversupplied local market and not being able to sell their surpluses to distant localities.


The Agricultural Revolution was a significant event in human history that led to the development of agriculture as we know it. The early humans were the first to develop a system that could manage, complex and time-consuming tasks. By the end of the period, humans had become so comfortable with agriculture that they were able to make significant changes in the way that their society functioned. Increased agricultural production and technological advances have become a significant part of the new farming practices, leading to changes in commuting and the development of a coordinated agricultural market. A major factor in its success was the emergence of new agricultural technologies, including mechanical development, which allowed for increased productivity and land control.

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