Jethro Tull and the Agricultural Revolution

Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull

On March 30, 1674, English agricultural pioneer Jethro Tull was baptized. He perfected a horse-drawn seed drill in 1701 that economically sowed the seeds in neat rows. He later developed a horse-drawn hoe. Tull’s methods were adopted by many great land owners and helped to provide the basis for modern agriculture. This revolutionized the future of agricultural success.

Jethro Tull matriculated at St John’s College, Oxford at the age of 17 in order to study law but it is assumed that he did not earn a degree. He was called to the bar by the benchers of Gray’s Inn in December 1693. Unfortunately, he became sick very soon with a pulmonary disorder and travelled across Europe in search of a cure. It is believed that he spent quite some time in Italy and the south of France, especially Montpellier. There, Tull began to compare the agriculture with that of his own country.

Tull noted the similarity of his own horse-hoe husbandry to the practice followed by the vine-dressers in the observed regions, constantly hoeing or otherwise stirring their ground. He developed the theory that manuring soil was not necessary and came back to England to practice his new findings on the farm called Prosperous in Berkshire. Around 1701, Tull made early advances in planting crops with his seed drill. The mechanical seeder sowed at the at the correct depth and spacing. The next version of the seed drill was much lighter and more efficient.

Further, it is assumed that Jethro Tull was the first to promote the advantages of hoeing cultivated soils. He explained to the farmers that even in the driest weather good hoeing may help to procure moisture to the roots of plants.

Jethro Tull died in 1741 at Prosperous Farm. Due to his work on agriculture, a new movement was initiated called horse-hoeing husbandry.

At yovisto, you can learn more about ‘The Future of Irrigated Agriculture: Where is the Water?‘ in a lecture at the University of Berkeley.

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