1902 Encyclopedia > Agriculture > Concluding Remarks

(Part 101)


Concluding Remarks

On Carefully comparing the present condition of British agriculture with hat it was forty years ago, the change for the better is found to be very great indeed. But on all hands there are many indications warranting the anticipation that the progress of discovery and improvement in future will be more steady, more rapid, and more general; than it has hitherto been,. There is not only a more general and more earnest spirit of inquiry, but practical men, instead of despising the aids of science, seek more and more to conduct their investigations under its guidance. Experiments are made on an ever-widening scale and upon well-concerted plans. Their results are so recorded and published that they at once become available to all, and each fresh investigator, instead of wasting his energies in re-discovering what (unknown to him) has been discovered before, now makes his start from a well-ascertained and ever-advancing frontier. Formerly the knowledge of the husbandman consisted very much of isolated facts and his procedure was often little better than a groping in the dark. As the rationale of his various processes is more clearly discovered, he will enable to conduct them with greater economy and precision than he can do at present. A clearer knowledge of what really constitutes the food of plants, and of the various influences which affect their growth, will necessarily lead to important improvements in all that relates to the collection, preparation, and use of manures.

What may truly be called a revolution in agriculture is now in the act of rapid development, in the application of steam-power to the tillage of the soil, which is spreading on every side,. Enough has already been accomplished to show that, under the combined influence of drainage and stream tillage, the clay soils of England will speedily have their latent fertility brought into play in a manner that will mightily augment our supplies of home-grown bread corn and butcher meat. It may indeed now be reasonable anticipated that threes hitherto impracticable soils will again take their place as out best corn-growing lands, and that their place as our best country where for a long time out national agriculture presented its poorest aspect, may ere long exhibit its proudest achievements.

In closing this paid review of British Agriculture, it is gratifying and cheering to reflect that never was this great branch of national industry in a healthier, condition, and never were there such solid grounds for anticipating for it, a steady and rapid progress. The time has hardly yet gone by when it was much the way with our manufacturing and training men, and our civic population generally, to regard our farmers as a dull, plodding sort of people, greatly inferior to themselves in intelligence and energy. Many of them seem now, however, to be awakening to the fact that their rural brethren possess a full share of those qualities which so honorably distinguish the British race. Nay, some of them may have experienced no little surprise when they became aware that in a full competition of our whole industrial products with those of other nations, as at Paris in 1855, and at similar and more recent international expositions, the one department in which Britain confessedly outstripped all her rivals was not in many of her great staple manufactures, but in the live stock of her farms and in her agricultural implements and machinery.

List of Plates accompanying this Article.

III. Plan of Covered Homestead for a small Farm, by Mr. J. Cowie
IV. Ground Plan of Steading and Offices on the Home far of the Earl of Southesk.
V. Shorthorn Bull and Cow
VI. Hereford Bull, and South Down Ewe and Lamb
VII. Cheviot Ewe and Blackfaced Heath Sheep
VIII. Leicester Ram and Ewe
IX. Romsey Marsh Ewe, and Sow of the Large English Breed

The following description has been supplied along with the plan given in Plate IV.: --- "It represents the ground plan of a steading of offices recently built on the home farm of the Earl of Southesk, planned by Charles Lyall, Esq., his lordships factor. It contains a powerful thrashing mill, corn-bruiser, oil-crusher, chaff-cutter, and turnip slicer, all driven by a portable steam-engine; and is amply supplied with water for the troughs and is lighted by gas. It may be regarded as a model, containing as it does all the conveniences and appliances necessary for the complete developments. It is calculated for an occupancy of 500 acres, and was built including the stream-engine, at a cost of about £5000."

This plan may very well illustrate the present state of opinion as to whether or not cattle should be kept wholly under cover. It gives an affirmative answer to this question in the case of fattening cattle; but for breeding stock of all ages it provides accommodation in open yards. This we consider the best arrangement in open yards. This we consider the best arrangement; for it is impossible in the case of breeding stock to retain that fine coat of hair which so enhances the good looks and value of high-class cattle without such an amount of exposure to the weather as is afforded by open yards with covered sheds. There is one feature in this plan which we cannot but regret, viz, its bothy. It is indeed one of the best of its kind, having a separate sleeping-place for each of its inmates, and suitable arrangements for their cleanliness and comfort; but the meanest cottage in the country, inasmuch as it admits of family life, is to be preferred to the most perfect bothy.

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