How Successfully did the Agricultural Revolution Deal with the Problems and Inefficiencies that Existed in Agriculture?

Essay by jspearmintJunior High, 9th gradeA-, March 2004

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By the 18th Century, the existing systems and techniques used in agriculture were no longer sufficient to feed a rapidly increasing population. Subsistence farming was not enough for a country whose people were living, in ever greater numbers, in towns and cities. Urbanisation meant that as more people lived in cities and towns, instead of on the land, farming would have to become more efficient. The old system would have to change to fuel the growing needs of the country, and to feed the workforce of the coming industrial revolution. The lack of people on the land and the expanding towns meant that something would have to be done, new innovations would have to be employed in agriculture, and farming would have to drastically change in the coming decades.

In the Medieval system, the 'Open Field' method was used, and up until the Agricultural Revolution, still was.

However, this system had many disadvantages, particularly now that inefficiencies were accentuated by the growing need for food. The system was extremely wasteful, leaving one field fallow each year, and not even using the vast 'commons' areas outside the immediate vicinity of the village. Also, grassy areas called 'balks' lay between strips in the fields, wasting yet more land. The system also wasted labour, fallow fields had to be ploughed even when nothing was grown there, and wasted time, as families had to travel between their strips. The raising of livestock was made difficult in the 'Open Field' system, because animals were all clustered together out on the common land, easily spreading diseases and making selective breeding almost impossible. This meant that there was never much fresh meat to eat, and many animals had to be killed in winter. This system of subsistence was clearly no longer satisfactory,