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Agricultural EnlightenmentKnowledge, Technology, and Nature, 1750-1840$
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Peter M. Jones

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716075

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716075.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 April 2021

The Science of Agriculture

The Science of Agriculture

(p.161) 7 The Science of Agriculture
Agricultural Enlightenment

Peter M. Jones

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the slow and uncertain development before the 1840s of a ‘science’ of agriculture. This development waited upon the elaboration of discrete bodies of agronomic data which would take the place of the catch-all ‘encyclopaedic’ knowledge of the high Enlightenment decades and upon the construction of an experimental method which could determine which knowledge inputs and which field and folding practices were more likely to produce beneficial results. The focus is laid on the potential for a chemistry of agriculture, on experiment and observation in a farming context, and on the Europe-wide effort to discover how plants extracted nourishment from the soil and the atmosphere. The chapter charts the achievements in these areas, illustrated with an account of the first field crop to be identified and grown in a scientific manner: sugar beet. It concludes with Liebig’s researches in agriculture and summarizes the debate concerning the laboratory vocation of agricultural science.

Keywords:   science, chemistry, experimental method, plant nutrition, laboratory agriculture, Justus Liebig, agricultural experiment stations

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