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The British Agricultural Revolution, which is also referred to as the Second Agricultural Revolution, marks a period of transition from traditional to modern farming systems. It was a time of technological innovation and increased crop productivity, which took place during the 18th century.

This complex transformation, which was not finalized immediately, included the relocation of land ownership and increased investments in new machinery. Before this important turning point in history, conventional methods of farming were deployed that led to accelerating overgrazing, uncontrolled breeding, and the spread of zoonotic diseases. 

 

It would be a huge mistake to think that significant changes in agricultural practices and productivity did not take place elsewhere. French agriculture, for instance, experienced labour productivity, which is no little thing considering the fact that it was relatively inactive between 1500 and 1789. What is important to keep in mind is that agricultural change is continuous and the existence of such a phenomenon is not something that can be ignored, leading to cultural transformations that enable people to change for the better. 

What factors contributed to the British Agricultural Revolution? 

The Agricultural Revolution caused an unforeseen increase in agricultural output in Britain, which was largely due to increases in the number of workers, not to mention land productivity. Undoubtedly, the British advanced at a fast rate as compared to other European countries. The increasing of productivity of farms in the course of the 18th century can be attributed to the following factors: 

  1. A supportive environment. English farmers made great efforts to enhance soil fertility by diversifying crops and playing with new methods of fertilization so as to counteract the effects of cooling climate conditions. Britain dealt with a period of extremely cold winters, temperatures being lower than average, and extreme weather events. 

  2. Farmland expansion. The acts of parliamentary legislation with regard to land enclosure were mostly favourable, promoting land consolidation. They also set the foundation for land ownership in Britain. Large pieces of land could be used for cultivating plants and livestock. The first agricultural cooperatives were formed, which enabled innovation and the spread of ideas. 

  3. Increased livestock numbers. Livestock plays an important role in terms of the food supply. The boost in livestock brought about significant change in the way people ate and, most importantly, soil fertility. Manure increased and maintained soil fertility by ensuring the necessary nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, calcium, and so on. The agrarian revolution increased livestock yields by enhancing soil fertility and reducing fallow land. 

A wide variety of machinery was developed

English farmers had an advantage because they could deploy more animal power and had all sorts of machinery at their disposal. Agricultural apparatus changed considerably during the 18th century. Advancements in technology were made, so it was impossible for farming to stay the same. Innovations that are worth mentioning are the seed drill, which sows the crops by placing them in the soil and burying them at a specific length. This neat device was invented by Jethro Tull, who also crafted the horse-drawn hoe and an improved plough. These pieces are regarded as ground-breaking developments in the 18th century. 

Let us not forget about the steam power that increased the daily production of threshing. If in the beginning steam tractors were big and hard to maneuver, they later on became semi-portable and could be used for a great many agricultural tasks. Examples include hauling small loads on public roads. The modern equivalent would be telehandler. Telehandlers lift more, reach farther, and push harder as compared to tractors. Getting back on topic, the growing use of steam power made possible the invention of the steamboat that enabled more affordable transport. With an improved infrastructure in place, items could travel across the nation, which in turn helped the country boost trade. 

Last but not least, there is the threshing machine that separates grain from corn or other crops. Invented in the 18th century by Andrew Meike, the threshing machine contributed to the restructuring of agricultural practices and introduced a change in land and labour relations. Several other inventions came forth around this time in history, including the flying shuttle, the hay-tossing machine, and Crompton’s mule. It is clear to see that farm machinery has come a long way since the beginning of time. The Agricultural Revolution transformed the way things were done in the past century, overcoming traditionalism, stagnation, and decline. 

The Agricultural Revolution changed Britain 

The changes brought about by the agrarian revolution had a great impact. People witnessed the metamorphosis of agriculture, which made the move from traditional medieval farming to much more productive, efficient methods of farming. Many agree with the fact that the modern world began in Britain in the 18th century. The net farm outputs, as well as the food demands, caused an industrial revolution, which brought Britain into an era of technology and richness. Without the Agricultural Revolution, the population would have faced famine and maybe the Industrial Revolution would never have taken place. 

Between 1700 and 1850, agricultural production almost doubled. We are talking about an increase in food quantity and quality per capita. People did not go starving, as there were enough food supplies for everyone. The population grew in England and Wales, even if domestic production gave rise to food exports. Farmers put out products more quickly than before, determining a decline in shared workforce. It was a period of adjustment. The increasing power of automation boosted productivity, but many saw their wages stagnate.

The regulations of the open market prevented farmers and intermediaries from doing business in formal markets. The result is that goods were mostly exchanged outside the open market, an occurrence which is referred to as private marketing. By the 19th century, private marketing was extending throughout the nation and agricultural production was destined exclusively for the market. Market towns were established near London in the 17th century. You could see farmers with their samples and buyers present in great numbers.