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Agricultural Revolution

Fields at Chelmorton - - 90975

The improvements made to farming methods to enable the population of Britain to grow from 5.7 million to 16.6 million people between 1750 and 1850 without the fear of starvation is often called the agricultural revolution.

Improvements included:
  • Enclosure - small, irregular-shaped fields open to use by the community in general were replaced with larger, square-shaped fields more easily controlled by the government or land owners.
  • Mechanisation - the development of mechanical aids like seed drills and hoes made working the land easier.
  • Four-Field Crop Rotation - growing: wheat, turnips, barley and clover on alternate fields each year aided land recovery and more food to be produced from one area. It also meant that livestock could be fed throughout the winter instead of being culled, and their manure used to improve the soils.
  • Selective Breeding - Robert Bakewell and Thomas Coke realised that mating together two animals with desirable characteristics (e.g. nice meat) would improve the quality of their cattle and sheep.
Unfortunately, few people found work in the increasingly mechanised farms - many had to relocate to the cities to find their fortune in the emerging factories of the Industrial Revolution.