Jethro Tull 1674-1741 English agriculturist, devised a seed-drill. This had two (later three) tubes across its width, each dropping a seed with each turn of the wheel. In the next year by ploughing a marginally different furrow, the soil's fertility could be preserved. He also devised the horse hoe to loosen topsoil and increase aeration and fertility. Led to big increases in yield. His ideas about farming were incorporated in a book, The New Horse Houghing Husbandry (1731), which was greatly expanded in 1733.
Viscount 'Turnip' Townshend After his withdrawal from politics in 1730 he concentrated on managing his land in Norfolk. Many of the techniques used there were not new and had been introduced from Holland in the 17th century. But Townshend extended their use and popularised them. The Norfolk Four Course Crop Rotation had all kinds of advantages. The usual pattern was Wheat - Root crop (often turnips) - Barley (or oats, peas and beans) - Clover (or other artificial grass eg lucerne). This did away with the need for a fallow year and the root crop of turnips not only cleansed the soil of weeds but also provided a cheap supply of winter feed stuff for livestock, avoiding the traditional Michaelmas slaughter. Clover allowed good grazing for livestock and restored nitrates to the soil, increasing fertility. Also pioneered marling i.e. mixing subsoil and topsoil.
Robert Bakewell 1712-95 Bakewell devoted most of his life to the scientific breeding of livestock. Devised a famous breed of new sheep, the New Leicester, by crossing two older types and then 'in-breeding' the better offspring. These sheep fattened rapidly & also had a good fleece, but too much carcass was fat. However, these were still better than rivals in the eighteenth century and these sheep won competitions. Leicester Longhorn cattle were also famous, weighing up to 500 kg.Back to Top