The Transformation of Agriculture in the West (New Perspectives on the Past)

  • Publish Date: 1992-01-13
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: David Grigg
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This book describes and analyzes the transformation of agriculture in the western world over the last two centuries. At the start of the period up to 80% of a country's population laboured on the land to feed themselves and their compatriots. Now, typically, less than 5% produce more food than the vastly increased majority can consume. This dramatic increase in productivity has both enabled industrialization - and the attendant growth of cities - and been fuelled by it. David Grigg examines the complex relationship between agriculture and industry and the ways in which capital has been applied to land and substituted for labour. The great technological changes that have increased output and productivity have had a no less revolutionary effet on rural-urban relationships and on rural society itself - the traditional ways of life and the social relations associated with centuries of rural society have either been transformed or ceased to be. The effect on the natural environment has been equally marked: the pace at which forest, moorland and wetlands have been brought into cultivation has accelerated rapidly and over the last 50 years the enormous increase in the use of chemicals as pesticides and fertilizers has changed soil and water quality in ways that have been damaging and frequently irreversible. In this account, David Grigg describes the course of modern agricultural history, and shows that the agricultural, no less than the industrial, revolution has transformed western societies, at the communal as well as at the national level, and with an impact as much social as economic.