Connection of Agricultural And Industrial Revolutions

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Occurring in Britain between 1760-1840, the Industrial Revolution was considered to be one of the major turning points of society worldwide. The development of the Second Agricultural revolution was believed to be the major cause of this. It was a significant period of development required to take place as the agricultural work fields were supposedly too difficult for humans. From the new farming techniques to inventions, this shift from agricultural to urban living led to a massive increase in food production and the population, hence triggering the industrial revolution. However, were the impacts of the Agricultural revolution more positive than negative?

Before the Agricultural Revolution, the lower working class was forced to live under cramped conditions lacking running water, struggling to even afford their current lifestyle due to low wages. With the lack of water and sanitation, many resorted to dumping their filth and waste into streets or emptied into rivers, causing heavy pollution and low standards of living to become one of the most recognizable aspects. This lack of clean living had led to the spread of several diseases.

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With very little knowledge of As only simple fertilization methods and farming techniques were applied along with the three-field agricultural system of a summer crop, a winter crop, and one left uncultivated, they heavily depended on the weather. The colder weather before the 18th century was known as ‘the little ice age’. They produced common crops such as wheat, bean, barley, and beans in the summer crop and used the winter crop for wheat and rye. Generations of rural and poor families relied on simple tools and mostly their physical strengths animals such as oxen to handle physical labor humans can’t, yet they were small and often unhealthy but also rarely unavailable. Children would work in agricultural fields where they learned to milk cows, churn butter, and tend to farm animals. Women would also help to raise smaller livestock as well as preparing and preserving family meals, making useful household food items, and earning extra money with ‘stay-at-home’ trades. It took an average of five men per day to collect a two-acre harvest and dependant on the weather, certain rituals and procedures were necessary to be performed throughout the year to ensure a satisfactory crop.

There were several factors that contributed to the agricultural revolution. With the increasing availability of farmland and a more favorable climate, a British statesman – Charles Townshend, managed to identify a way for improvements of farming practices to produce more food in the 1730s. He discovered that growing different types of crops years after years would help the farmers not leave any field uncultivated for any season. Charles Townshend argued that there would be an increase in food production without diminishing the ability of soil if they would grow a cereal grain one year and a vegetable crop the next.

These inventions developed over the early 1700s to mid-1800s had cut down many ‘back-breaking hours of labor in the field, helped farmers to improve farming techniques to grow and collect crops at a faster rate.

Four of the many inventions were the threshing machine – invented in 1786 by Andrew Meikle to thresh grain, the seed drill by Jethro Tull in 1701, an invention for farmers to enjoy higher yields while only using 10% of their crops, the steel plow, developed in 1837 as a replacement for the wooden plows as it was easily broken or damaged and the reaper, used for cutting and harvesting grain.

The Agricultural revolution had contributed to major population growth. The rapid increase in food supplies contributed to the population. By 1801, the population had risen from 5 million people in 1700 to 9 million, tripling by the end of the 19th century, in which from then the population boomed to 32 million people.

With the perks of food production and more manageable working conditions also came the unfavorable side of the agricultural revolution. The massive growth triggered the enclosure movement, another factor that provided an ideal environment for the industrial revolution. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the enclosure movement was a push by the English government for aristocrats to legally confiscate and keep lands to themselves, with all profit allowed to be kept. They claimed that it would allow for the better raising of crops and animals, so that larger fields could be farmed more efficiently, leaving access to only plots too small and of poor qualities for poorer farmers. This movement forced working-class people to migrate to industrialized cities in search of work in factories and mines. While the industrial revolution could have begun many years earlier, pre-industrial cities were unable to provide and support larger populations. It took decades to trigger a mass rural to urban labor migration.

However, with the provision of better farming techniques also came destroyed habitats, decreased biodiversity, and increase in carbon dioxide, in general, irreversible environmental damages. There were better farming techniques that gave soil time to replenish nutrients for stronger crops, leading to a better agricultural output. Applications of scientific and selective breeding provided better care of animals and breeding, having said that, the risk of animal cruelty had also increased. They were usually caged and often not kept clean, force-fed vitamins, minerals, and other substances to make them grow bigger and faster. This also led to an overwhelming amount of waste and by-products, causing pollution and potentially damaging the ozone layer, affecting nearby land and rivers.

So, did the Agricultural Revolution affect the world more positively than negatively? Yes, it did. While the enclosure movement had left poorer farmers with no choice but to migrate to more industrialized towns or cities to find work, without this, there was a higher chance that the Industrial Revolution wouldn’t have occurred. The more advanced technology and scientific plantation methods corresponded with a more exponential population growth globally. Despite the negatives of the Agricultural revolution, the positive sides of it make up for the heavily polluted areas, low wages and living conditions of diseases, and shortages of food productions. In the long term, without the development of inventions and innovations, the Agricultural revolution and the enclosure movement, the growing population of England would have starved, and the Industrial revolution would’ve been stifled. The problems with livestock breeding would continue and potentially worsen and there could’ve been a decline in nutrition with an increase in disease from pollution and domesticated animals. Therefore, overall, yes, there were more positive effects of the revolution which have impacted the world in the long term than there were negatives, especially as without some of the negatives, there was a possible chance the revolution wouldn’t have taken place.     

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