The term Agrarian Revolution implies the great changes that took place in the agricultural methods of England during the second half of the 17th century and the first half of the eighteenth century.
Causes of the Revolution:
- The old open field system was wasteful of land because, according to this arrangement, every year one of the three fields was to be out of cultivation.
- Secondly, come the old system of distribution of land was wasteful of time.
- Thirdly, there was the necessity of confirming the customs of the village and thus made experiments in agriculture method possible.
In the 18th century, the population was increasing and so more food was needed. Owing to the scarcity of food materials there was a rise in prices. The old-fashioned farmers thought that they could get more money if they produce more. This idea was an incentive for them to improve their agricultural methods.
Reallocation of Lands:
Reallocation of lands in consolidated blocks which could be enclosed, several Enclosure Acts were passed in the reign of George II and George III. There were many cases of the poor peasants being not satisfied with the reallocation. Such people sold their small holdings to wealthy businessmen of the city who were eager to possess lands of their own. The final result of this tendency was that the class of rural inhabitants known as yeomen disappeared.
Advantages of enclosure system:
One of the advantages of the enclosure system was that it gave scope for many enterprising people to make experiments. Jethro Tull of Berkshire was the inventor of the drill for sowing seeds. He also emphasized the necessity of capital selection of seeds if good crops were to be obtained.
Another pioneer is Charles Townshend of Norfolk. He adopted Tull’s principles and paid much attention to the question of rotation of crops. He introduced the four-course rotation of turnips, barley, clover, and ryegrass, and wheat. These measures prevented an unprotective fallow. His innovation made Norfolk a leading agricultural country. With the result that in the thirty years the rental of the one farm rose from 180 pounds to 800 pounds a year.
The work of Townshend was continued by Thomas Cook. He followed the precepts of Tull and in addition fed the soil with manures including bones. In nine years he was able to grow excellent wheat crops. He also introduced new artificial foods such as oil cake under led the way in fattening cattle for the London markets. He held a yearly meeting for farmers at his house and these meetings farming topics were discussed and much advice was given and received. It is estimated that the annual rental of his estate Rose from 2,200 pounds in 1776 to 20,000 pounds in 1816.
While Norfolk landlords were thus making great improvements in arable farming, a Leicestershire farmer, Kama Robert Bakewell was revolutionizing English methods of stock breathing. Up to this time sheep had been valued chiefly for their wool, the production of mutton had been only secondary. Bakewell was the first to turn his attention to the production of meat as the main consideration of stock breeding. By patient choice and experiment, he succeeded in producing a new breed of sheep with fattened quickly and weighed heavy. His success attracted the attention of many. Farmers from far and wide visited his farm at Dishley and became converts to his new methods. Others who did pioneering work in this field were George Culley, Charles Colling, and John Salman.
Board of agriculture:
Royal patronage was also given to the moment of revolutionizing the agriculture methods. George III, affectionately known to his subjects as a farmer George, established a model farm at Windsor. The success of the moment was due to the writings of agriculture writers, the most famous was Arthur Young. When a board of agriculture was established in 1793. Young was made its secretary.
With the advent of the enclosure system, the English banking system also grows, for even the wealthy landlords did not have money to do the fencing and other improvements. So they have to borrow money from the banks. Through all those methods was very desirable from the point of view of production, it had a harmful effect on the partition. The system deprived him of the privilege of grazing his cattle and cutting fuel from the commons.