Thursday, September 6, 2012

Week Three Update on 18th Century Farming

Week Objective:

To determine the Agricultural Revolution, number of farms on a grand estate, rotation systems.

What I did:

 This week I read the four chapters in my Kindle book. This book, to me, reads like a Ph.D. dissertation that I read for a previous class. So, I’m wondering if this is one too. It was super expensive, so the price may be to try to make up for the authors’ research. I don’t know this for a fact, but just speculating because of how it reads. What I can say is that it seems to be quite thorough, if boring. The authors do not differentiate, at times, from what time period they are referring to. So, I have to go back and forth to make sure that I am getting the correct information for the time period from which I want to focus. What I mean to say is that every chapter is written from 18th to late 19th century, and in some cases includes 17th and/or 20th century information. He wrote it well, but because I am looking at 18th and early 19th centuries, I want to make sure that I am getting the proper time periods here.

Other things that I did this week include, besides ordering and receiving this book, ordering and receiving the other books that we spoke about. The Kindle books are easily received because, well, they download within a minute. However, the “real” book, The Transformation of Rural England: Farming and the Landscape 1700-1870, was also ordered. I ordered it from Amazon Prime, and it took three days to receive. It is absolutely beautiful! It actually looks like it is supposed to be a textbook, and is maybe used for this for farming students. I know that Tennessee State University has a farming school because there is a campus just outside the town in Tennessee where I am from. Perhaps they have a class that would use this. Or, another type of school similar to TSU, etc. may use it. There are a lot of figures and photographs that I hope to be able to utilize. I have not looked inside the other Kindle books, so I am not sure how they appear!

Discussion on this week’s text:

As per the week number two’s book; there is some reference to payment of farm workers in grain. Of course, this is a secondary source, while the first is primary, so there was some difference as to how it was presented. Interestingly, these authors point out that the agricultural revolution was from 1560 to 1767, and did not occur in just one century. This does make perfect sense.[1] However, I believed it have been from the late 1600’s through the Victorian period. I may even argue our authors to my beliefs. He does go on to say that there was a second agricultural revolution, which began after the Napoleonic Wars.[2] I think that there certainly were some changes that occurred in the Renaissance, but this does not mean that this is when the full blown out revolution took place. From all of my texts in my European and American history classes, there is very little indication that this actually happened before the late 17th century. And, many of the KEY elements occurred during the Georgian periods, which is why I decided that this was an important factor. He does go on to say that many of the elements that shows us the agricultural revolution occurred before the third quarter of the eighteenth century.[3] This was based upon output, and not design. So, perhaps he was not looking at the REASONS behind the change, and only looking at the AMOUNT of grain output. However, this does not necessarily mean that the revolution was over, but that it could have been in a hiatus due to the diversification of methods. I will look into that idea.

A contradictory notion is introduced on 229. Here the authors state that there were two agricultural revolutions, the yeoman’s in the 17th and the landlord’s in the 18th.[4] This does make more sense to me. The poorer people were looking to create innovative ways to produce more food for themselves, and to sell off. Then, the landlords were looking (well, weren’t they always?) to innovate more ways for them to make more money, without having to share it with the poor.

Another point that is made is that there had been a dearth during the Napoleonic Wars.[5] I do not find this ironic because the men were off fighting. So, of course there were less people that had been available to work the fields. Then, output was no longer keeping up with demand.[6] Again, the men were away! Prices rose, again this was a way of the world because there had been less grain and more need – to feed families and the soldiers that were away.

A key point for me was that I did not know that there had been MANY small farms on the grand estates. For some reason, I thought that there may have been one or three. However, there had been generally around eleven great farms per estate with 500 to 1,000 acres per farm. This is absolutely important for me in my studies! Another super idea is that this book shows the rotations that went from the plant –fallow to the Norfolk style that was the four-field system. It cut down on the main crop (usually wheat), and held one of the fields – wheat, beans (usually barley), grass and turnips. This was different from the three-field system that did not include the turnips. The turnips are a plant that adds nitrogen to the field, and they are used to feed animals. So, the animals were put into the turnip field and produced fertilizer too, thus making the field more beneficial than just allowing it to be fallow for a year or two.[7]


 Agrarian (225) – Relating to cultivated land or the cultivation of land. Relating to landed property.

 Fallow (885) – Land that is plowed and left unseeded for a season or more; uncultivated; inactive.

Originally written for class at American Military University.

[1] M.E. Turner, J.V. Beckett and B. Afton. The Transformation of Rural England: Farming
and the Landscape, 1700-1870. (Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2001.), 183,  Kindle Edition.
[2] Ibid, 184.
[3] Ibid, 224.
[4] Ibid, 229.
[5] Ibid, 246.
[6] Ibid, 249.
[7] Ibid, 887.


  1. I should put in a turnip patch for my sheep and goats. Permaculture

  2. Absolutely! You can use them in your salads, and cook them singly or with meals too. And, some of the greatest fodder around.


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