Jethro Tull (agriculturist)

Infobox Person
name = Jethro Tull

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birth_date = 30 March 1674
birth_place = Basildon, Berkshire, England
death_date = death date and age|1741|02|21|1674|01|01
death_place = Shalbourne, Berkshire, England
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resting_place = St Bartholomew's Church, Lower Basildon, Berkshire, England
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residence = Berkshire, England
nationality = English
other_names =
known_for = Agricultural reforms
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Jethro Tull (30 March 1674 – 21 February 1741), was an English agricultural pioneer during the period before the Industrial Revolution and the Agricultural Revolution.

Early life

Tull was born in Basildon, Berkshire to Dorothy Buckridge and Jethro Tull and baptised there on March 30, 1674 [ [ Ancestry of Jethro Tull] compiled by William Addams Reitwiesner] . He matriculated at St John's College, Oxford at the age of 17 but appears to have not taken a degree. He was later educated at Gray's Inn.

He became sick with a pulmonary disorder, and as he went in a search for a cure he travelled Europe seeking more knowledge of agriculture. Influenced by the early Age of Enlightenment, he is considered to be one of the early proponents of a scientific (and especially empirical) approach to agriculture. He helped transform agricultural practices by inventing or improving numerous implements.


. In fact, the Sumerians used primitive single-tube seed drills around 1,500 BCE, and multi-tube seed drills were invented by the Chinese in the 1,499 BCE. The first known European seed drill was invented by Camillo Torello and patented by the Venetian Senate in 1566, possibly influenced by Chinese contact, and a seed drill with a detailed description is known from Tadeo Cavalina of Bologna in 1602.

Tull also advocated the use of horses over oxen, invented a horse-drawn hoe for clearing weeds, and made changes to the design of the plough which are still visible in modern versions. His interest in ploughing derived from his interest in weed control, and his belief that fertilizing was unnecessary, on the basis that nutrients locked up in soil could be released through pulverization. Although he was incorrect in his belief that plants obtained nourishment exclusively from such nutrients, he was aware that horse manure carried weed seeds, and hoped to avoid using it as fertilizer by pulverizing the soil to enhance the availability of plant nutrients.

Tull's inventions were sometimes considered controversial and were not widely adopted for many years. However, on the whole he introduced innovations which contributed to the foundation of productive modern agriculture.

Tull published his famous book, "The New Horse-Houghing [Horse-Hoeing] Husbandry", c.1731, with the sub-title "an Essay on the Principles of Tillage and Nutrition"

Tull died in Shalbourne, Berkshire (now Wiltshire), and is buried in the garden of St Bartholomew's house, Lower Basildon, Berkshire.


Further reading

* Hidden, N. (1989) [ Jethro Tull I, II, and III] , "Agric. Hist. Rev.", 37 (1), p. 26-35

See also

* Agricultural science
* British Agricultural Revolution
* Tillage
* Jethro Tull (band)

External links

* [ Royal Berkshire History: Jethro Tull]
* [ BBC History: Jethro Tull (1674–1741)]

NAME = Tull, Jethro
PLACE OF BIRTH = Basildon, Berkshire, England
DATE OF DEATH = 1741-02-21
PLACE OF DEATH = Shalbourne, Berkshire, England

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