Science and the farmer: the development of agriculture in West Wales, 1900-1950

Coggins, Julie Ann (2019) Science and the farmer: the development of agriculture in West Wales, 1900-1950. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

This study contends that agricultural science significantly contributed to the development of agriculture in West Wales and argues that farming during the decades under study was progressive and not, as portrayed by some historians, that farmers in general were suspicious of change, resentful of science and irresponsive to the opportunities available.The research has shown that farmers were receptive to new ideas but the process of adoption and adaption was often challenged by conservative farmers and the scientific information and its practical use had to be rigorously tested and confirmed before becoming an established process. The application of agricultural science is shown in this study to be a complex process and local knowledge combined with the new science was at the heart of any changes in procedures by farmers in West Wales. The slow rate of adoption of agricultural science that has been attributed to the traditional conservatism of farmers may be justified in part but the complexity of the processes necessitated trials and validation and this shows an acceptance and an understanding by farmers of the difficulties inherent in the techniques and applying them to individual farms. Agricultural improvement is not just confined to increases in production and profitability but also encompasses quality and importance and this study acknowledges the value of both county advisory support and the leadership of progressive farmers. This research shows how their roles became the means of channelling the scientific information from the laboratory scientists to the farmer in order to contribute to the adoption of new technology and the production of new foodstuffs. Agrarian policy and strategies are seen to support the challenges of the farmers and the scientific principles of the plough-up campaigns in the First and Second World Wars and the formation of the Development Commission and the Agricultural Research Council iv are considered within a scientific context that contributed to changing attitudes in the farming community. The considerable historiography of twentieth century Welsh agriculture has paid little attention to the value of agricultural science and the farmers’ acceptance and implementation of this science within agricultural development. The vast literature tends to focus more on economic progress and the social history of estates, tenants and tenancies, and the farm labourers. Agricultural progress and development encompasses many components such as inputs and outputs, market forces, labour, agricultural policy and pricing policies and these subjects are well documented and referenced. This study addresses the disparity within historical agricultural literature on the application of agricultural science and its role in contributing to agricultural progress.This thesis demonstrates that scientific methods applied to farming provided the essential foundation to progress in West Wales in the decades 1900-1950.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Agriculture, agricultural science, West Wales, farming
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Lesley Cresswell
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2020 15:36
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 11:01
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/1271

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