STUDIES IN AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGY IN NINETEENTH- AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY ENGLAND
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Four published papers and several parts of a book are presented herein, together with a previously unpublished short paper explaining the intellectual background against which they were written and summarising their findings on the development of agricultural teQmology in England in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This outlines the contribution of economic and sociological the^pries to the study of technical change, but makes the point that historical studies, although clearly influenced by these theories, tend to use a multifactorial approach which avoids privileging any single explanation. Nevertheless, several themes arising in all of this material are identified, especially the gap between innovation and the adoption of technology, and the influence upon it of scientific, systemic, and socio-economic changes. Brassley (1995a) exaiftmes the criteria against which the success of agricultural science should be judged, and concludes that for most of the nineteenth century in Britain it was a failure. It identifies the establishment of the university departments of agriculture in the 1890s, and the Development Commission in 1910, as the main factors which reversed this trend, and, in an appendix, examines the impact of changing output prices upon the supply curve. In Brassley (1995b) the life of a single farmer, Primrose McConnell, is considered. In adoptiondiffusion theory terms, McConnell is a classic example of an innovator, and this paper reveals the various ways in which, as a writer and a practising farmer, he influenced the agricultural industry of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Brassley (1996) concentrates on a single example of technical change, in this case silage, and explains why its widespread adoption took about a hundred years. The principal conclusion is that silage, like many examples of agricultural technology, is not a single change but a complex system of interacting individual components, all of which need to be available or in place before widespread adoption can occur. The significance of this process is studied^in Brassley (2000a), which examines the relationship between technical change and output in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and concludes that innovation was not necessarily as important as the adoption of pre-existing technology in accounting for output expansion. Brassley (2000b) is divided into three parts. The first introduces the concept of farming systems in late nineteenth century England and Wales and analyses the principal arable and pastoral systems of the period; the second examines individual aspects of farming technology, with the exception of farm buildings and machinery; and the third traces the development of agricultural science and education in England and Wales between 1850 and 1914. Clearly these three are inter-related, in that science and education had some impact on techniques, which, in turn, influenced farming systems, but one of the main themes to emerge from this study, as from the other papers in this collection, is the restricted rate of change and the gap between technical leaders and laggards.
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