Agricultural Revolution In Britain Essay

1141 words - 5 pages

During the 18th century Britain was growing. As a result of this hasty expansion the existing systems and techniques used in agriculture were no longer sufficient to feed a rapidly increasing population. This meant that change to the extremely wasteful older system was needed in order to fuel the growing needs of the country, and to feed the ever growing population.There were many causes of this ‘agricultural revolution’ Britain was at war with France – consequently the soldiers needed to be fed, and due to war, supplies imported from Europe (e.g. corn) were reduced. This added significant strain on the food being produced in England which added stress to the farmers. In the early 18th century, much of the countryside was farmed as an open field system. This system was more in favour of farming for personal requirements rather than for the nation’s commercial needs. This open field farming was incredibly wasteful and also encouraged the spread of weeds and plant diseases. The disadvantages of the old system were now being emphasized by the growing need for food. Therefore changes were needed.Perhaps the most important and significant development of were the enclosures. Enclosure simply meant doing away with the 'Open Field' system, replacing it with large fields, enclosed by fences or hedgerows and drained by the landowners. The system of Enclosure had the simple advantage over the 'Open Field' system, in that it produced far more food, and meant that no land was wasted. There were two methods of gaining Enclosure, either via consent of all the landholders in a village – or by Parliamentary Enclosure.With Enclosure, farming quickly became a cost-effective business and had many benefits: The banks were keen to lend to farmers who wanted to improve their land because they could see it as a profitable business. As a result of this, farmers could afford to modernise. The new system also made selective breeding easier, substantially improved people's diets and increased the amount of fresh meat, dairy products and vegetables being produced. This system, therefore, was extremely successful in dealing with the inefficiencies of the past, and dealt with the dietary needs of the expanding population.The enclosure movement drew fierce debate at the time due to the underlying social issue whereby it was said that this was a revolution of the rich against the poor and that the basic fabric of society was being disrupted. In support of the positive effects of enclosure we can conclude that it enabled farmers to experiment and carry out new agricultural methods, it also allowed for livestock farming to be used in tandem with arable farming and encouraged selective breeding; obviously this was a big positive on the side of commercial farming.John Middleton echoed these views and added emphasis to the advantage of enclosure, applauding the drainage system that enclosure allowed along with improvements for livestock rearing and employment...

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