Sketch: UK Agricultural Research and Education January 7, 2011Posted by Will Thomas in Technocracy in the UK.
Tags: Alfred Charles True, Alfred Daniel Hall, Charles Townshend, Edward John Russell, Frederick Gowland Hopkins, George Henry Falkiner Nuttall, John Bennet Lawes, John Sibthorp, Jonathan Harwood, Joseph Barcroft, Joseph Henry Gilbert, Justus Liebig, Margaret Rossiter, Marsha Richmond, Redcliffe Salaman, Reginald Punnett, Robert Kohler, Rowland Biffen, Thomas Barlow Wood, Vincent Brian Wigglesworth, William Bateson
It is difficult to trace the lineage of agricultural research in Britain without the bottom falling out from underneath your feet, putting you in freefall until you land with a thud in the eighteenth century. Since this is well outside the scope of my project, I will just note a few reference points before scrambling back toward the twentieth century: the growth of experimental farming by “improvement”-minded landowners (good ol’ Turnip Townshend and co.), the 1791 foundation of the Veterinary College of London (later the Royal Veterinary College), and the 1796 foundation of the Sibthorpian Chair of Rural Economy at Oxford through the benefaction of John Sibthorp (1758-1796), who was Sherrardian Professor of Botany there from 1784 until his death (having replaced his father, Humphrey, who held the post from 1747 to 1783).
A Board of Agriculture existed in England from 1793 until it was wound up in 1820. The Royal Agricultural Society of England was founded in 1838, and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons was founded in 1844. For reference, the Board of Longitude was wound up in 1828, the Royal Astronomical Society was founded in 1820, the British Medical Association was founded in 1832, and the Chemical Society of London was founded in 1841.
Preliminary Survey: Literature on Agricultural Research to 1945 November 19, 2010Posted by Will Thomas in Technocracy in the UK.
Tags: Abigail Woods, Alfred Daniel Hall, Barbara Kimmelman, Bernd Gausemeier, Berris Charnley, Christophe Bonneuil, Colin J. Holmes, David F. Smith, Deborah Fitzgerald, Edith Rebecca Saunders, Edward John Russell, Gilles Denis, Gregor Mendel, Jean-Luc Mayaud, John Boyd Orr, John Winnifrith, Jonathan Harwood, Justus Liebig, Karin Matchett, Keith Vernon, Louis Pasteur, Margaret Rossiter, Marsha Richmond, Neil F. McCann, Paolo Palladino, Paul Brassley, R. A. Fisher, Robert Olby, Susanne Heim, Thomas Wieland, Tiago Saraiva, Timothy DeJager, William Bateson
The importance of agricultural research in the intellectual history of science should be self-evident. Justus Liebig (1803-1873) was a key figure in both the development of laboratory methodology and agricultural science. Gregor Mendel’s (1822-1884) famous experiments were in plant breeding. Louis Pasteur’s (1822-1895) most celebrated work was on the cattle disease, anthrax. William Bateson (1861-1926), who coined the term genetics, was the first director of the John Innes Horticultural Institution in London, 1910-1926. Statistician, geneticist, and eugenics proponent R. A. Fisher (1890-1962) was employed by the Rothamsted Experimental Station, 1919 to 1933 (and temporarily relocated there from 1939 to 1943). Interwar and postwar virologists and molecular biologists did a great deal of work on the economically destructive tobacco mosaic virus.
In these examples, problems of agriculture form a motivating context for contributions to biology, statistics, and other fields. The history of agricultural research itself remains somewhat difficult to discern, even though it apparently constitutes a long, sizable tradition. We do have some enumeration of accomplishments in research and technique, written in retrospect by practitioners. For the case of the UK, the following resources are available: