The Real Agricultural Revolution: The Transformation of English Farming, 1939-1985 [Hardback]

Paul Brassley(Author); Michael Winter(Author); Matt Lobley(Author); David Harvey(Author)

ISBN: 9781783276356 | Published by: Boydell Press | Series: Boydell Studies in Rural History | Year of Publication: 2021 | 288p, H9.25 x W6.25, 11 graphs; 39 tables
Status: Not Yet Published - Available for pre-order

The Real Agricultural Revolution


"This meticulously researched book gives a detailed and authoritative history of agricultural change in the second half of the twentieth century. The book skilfully weaves together the hitherto underexplored individual returns of the Farm Management Survey with oral histories of the farmers who enacted change on the ground to offer an incisive account of the complex technological, political and cultural developments which gave rise to some of the greatest changes in English farming history. It will stand as the key reference point for those with an interest in the history of agricultural change in Britain." Professor Mark Riley, University of Liverpool

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 British agriculture was largely powered by the muscles of men, women, and horses, and used mostly nineteenth-century technology to produce less than half of the country's temperate food. By 1985, less land and far fewer people were involved in farming, the power sources and technologies had been completely transformed, and the output of the country's agriculture had more than doubled. This is the story of the national farm, reflecting the efforts and experiences of 200,000 or so farmers and their families, together with the people they employed. But it is not the story of any individual one of them. We know too little about change at the individual farm level, although what happened varied considerably between farms and between different technologies.

Based on an improbably-surviving archive of Farm Management Survey accounts, supported by oral histories from some of the farmers involved, this book explores the links between the production of new technologies, their transmission through knowledge networks, and their reception on individual farms. It contests the idea that rapid adoption of technology was inevitable, and reveals the unevenness, variability and complexity that lay beneath the smooth surface of the official statistics.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Exploring Agricultural Change
2 The Organisation of Agricultural Science, 1935-85
3 Knowledge Networks in UK farming 1935-85
4 Agricultural Policy 1939-85
5 Dairy Farming
6 Land and Capital
7 Labour and Machinery
8 Specialisation and Expansion
9 The Declining Enterprises: Pigs and Poultry
10 Conclusions


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