The Agricultural Revolution is the name given to the drastic changes in the farming process that occurred in the 1600's onwards. The spread-out, shared farms, common under the "open-field system" of cultivation, turned into more compact, but larger, farms. The many problems associated with open fields; the overgrazing of animals, difficulty in reaching consensus for change, and single herds that had led to a spread of animal diseases and uncontrollable breeding breeding; had all become generally solved (Gernhard). Farmers had discovered a crop rotation system that allowed them to forgo leaving up to half the land unused or fallow between each planting. Animal husbandry was becoming widely used. This was just the beginning of the change, and many important players were able to create other innovations for the farm that would change the ways farms would work:
Jethro Tull (1674 - 1741)
Jethro Tull was a key player in introducing and popularizing root vegetables. His major contributions to the Agricultural Revolution, however, were his two inventions: the seed drill and horse hoe (Gernhard). The seed drill was an innovation that allowed seeds to be easily planted deep into the earth instead of on top where the majority were washed away or otherwise lost. The machine was pulled by horses and consisted of rotating drills or runners that would plant seeds at a set depth (Seed Drill). His other invention, the horse hoe, was another revolutionary device which allowed for much more efficient planting by allowing a horse to pull a plow quickly.
Townshend was another key player in popularizing root vegetables, even more so than Tull. Called "Turnip" Townshend by others, he was famous for his cultivation of turnips and clover on his estate in Norfolk. He introduced the four-course rotation of crops which helped keep the ground good for farming almost all year. This cycle consisted of wheat, turnips, oats or barley, and clover (The Agricultural Revolution).
Robert Bakewell (1725 - 1795)
Bakewell was the first and most prominent stock breeder of farm animals. By breeding only animals with certain qualities, Bakewell was able to breed much more livestock. Bakewell kept elaborate genealogical records of his valuable animals and maintained his stock carefully; he was renowned for his success with sheep. By the end of the eighteenth century, his principles of stock breeding were practiced widely (The Agricultural Revolution).
During the Agricultural Revolution, the agricultural output of England increased about three and a half times (The Agricultural Revolution). With more productive farms and a smaller work load, more people were able to leave the farms and go to the city. It is this large available workforce that allowed for the greater production needed to spark the Industrial Revolution.
Key Innovations and Inventors of the Industrial Revolution
Technology, arguably the greatest aspect of the Industrial Revolution, can be simplified into a few different innovations and inventors, most...
James Hargreaves' "spinning jenny"
In 1764, James Hargreaves invented the "spinning jenny, " a device which allowed one person to spin many threads at once, further increasing the amount of finished cotton that a worker could produce. By turning a single wheel, one could now spin eight threads at once, a number that was later increased to eighty. The thread, unfortunately, was usually coarse and lacked strength. Despite this shortcoming, over 20 000 of the machines were in use in Britain by 1778 (Simkin).