Improvements in AgricultureCategory: 18th century
In early 1700′s, British farmers developed ways to improve crop yields. The invention of the seed-drill by Jethro Tull in 1701 became one of the earliest steps in making agriculture more productive. TuU’s device placed seeds in the soil in rows at even intervals, thereby using far less seed and leaving fewer bare spots than the old method of scattering by hand.
New crop management techniques soon followed. For example, rotation of crops from season to season was introduced. Crops that took nutrients from the soil were followed by crops that restored essential elements. This maintained soil fertility even with continuous cultivation. The traditional method of letting the land rest for a season between crops was much less productive than rotation of crops. Adding fertilizers to the soil also increased crop productivity.
More available feed alongside with new methods of selecting animals for breeding produced heavier sheep and beef cattle. Enclosures made more grazing land available for livestock. The textile industry’s increasing demand for wool and the growing population’s need for food in the 1700′s prompted large landowners to expand both their crops and their flocks of sheep.
Improvements in agriculture leading to increased crop and meat production provided a healthier diet for the growing population. Bread, cheese, peas, turnips, and later potatoes were the mainstay of the diet, but meat was often too expensive for most of the nation to afford it.
Taking advantage of new technology and reinvestment of capital, farmers ran large farms like other businesses. With the invention of machinery to help with planting and harvesting agriculture — like manufacturing — began to follow the same path towards increased production and greater profits.