Course:History 344 Nasty Families/Inventions/Seed Drill

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The Seed Drill was a revolutionary invention theorized in 1699 by John Worlidge, and later built an used by Jethro Tull in 1701 in the later Stuart Age[1]. The seed drill became a tool used to facilitate an agricultural boom and began a trend of scientific rationalism which would come to dominate through out the Industrial Revolution.

As an invention itself, the seed drill operated by stirring the soils, and dropping seeds into the earth rather than doing this by hand. Using the seed drill pulled by some form of live stock. This method was much more effective than doing the task by hand, and allowed for work to be done quicker, and on a larger scale, with less a reliance on labor. These factors led to an increase in profit as well as less time and manpower required to achieve a greater scale of agriculture[2]

During the time, Tull was heavily criticized by sources for this invention. This arose from the separation of labor and work, where the labor force was now weakened by the ability of a machine to work just as well as many laborers. It was also praised for this same reason as it allowed for the maximization of agricultural production, and its ability to but aside the reliance on the unruly labor in the country[3]

While Tull was criticized and labeled a crank for his ideas, they eventually became the foundation for modern mechanized agriculture.

[BN: The bibliographic info could be standardised to Chicago format.]

  1. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online, January 2012 ed., s.v. "Tull, Jethro."
  2. Roger Redfern, "Sowing Seeds of a Farming Revolution: Discoveries and the People Behind Them, Jethro Tull (1674-1741)," The Guardian (June 1993).
  3. Laura Sayre, "The Pre-History of Soil Science: Jethro Tull, The Invention of the Seed Drill, and the Foundations of Modern Agriculture," History of Soil Science and Geology 18.