British Agricultural Revolution

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British Agricultural Revolution The British Agricultural Revolution describes a period of development in Britain between the 17th century and the end of the 19th century, which saw an epoch-making increase in agricultural productivity and net output. This in turn supported unprecedented population growth, freeing up a significant percentage of the workforce, and thereby helped drive the Industrial Revolution. How this came about is not entirely clear, but the post-Renaissance advances in science, engineering and elementary botany likely encouraged the progression of the Agricultural Revolution in Britain. In recent decades, enclosure, mechanization, four-field crop rotation, and selective breeding have been highlighted as primary causes, with credit given to only a relatively few individuals. Enclosure Prior to the 18th century, agriculture had been much the same across Europe since the Middle Ages. The open field system was essentially feudal, with each farmer subsistence-cropping strips of land in one of three or four large fields held in common and splitting up the products likewise. Beginning as early as the 12th century, some of the common fields in Britain were enclosed into individually owned fields, and the process rapidly accelerated in the 15th and 16th centuries. This led to farmers losing their land and their grazing rights and left many unemployed. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the practice of enclosure was denounced by the Church, and legislation was drawn up against it; but the developments in agricultural mechanization during the 18th century required large, enclosed fields so as to be workable. This led to a series of government acts, culminating in the General enclosure Act of 1801, which sanctioned large-scale land reform. While small farmers received compensation for their strips, it was minimal, while the loss of rights for the rural
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