Early European settlers went into farming, mainly to meet the demand for raw
material in England and entire Europe.
For example, in Maryland and Virginia,
tobacco was produced. Rice and Indigo were grown as major crops in Georgia and
South Carolina. There was large-scale cotton growing in North Carolina, Arkansas,
Louisiana and Texas.
Other crops grown include sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, wheat and corn. The drier north-eastern parts of the USA specialized in ranching and dairying.
The south emerged as a cotton zone, the central region as a maize zone and the north-western region as a wheat growing area.
Before mechanization, Agriculture in the USA, particularly cotton and sugarcane plantations, depended on slave labour from West Africa.
Agriculture in the USA underwent great changes that promoted her development in industry, transport and urbanization.
The inventions made in Agriculture in the USA during the Agrarian Revolution.
In 1791, the Spinning Mule was invented in Britain to separate cotton seed from the fibre, to spin the thread and to weave the cloth, all at the same time. This transformed farming in the USA tremendously.
In 1834, John Perkins invented the Refrigerator, which was perfected by John Gorrie and a Frenchman called Ferdinand Carre.
The refrigerator preserves food by keeping it under low temperatures. With it, farmers could now transport and export large quantities of food crops and beef products.
In 1837, John Deere from Illinois invented the Steel plough, which was stronger than the wooden and iron ploughs and could be used on hard ground.
In 1847, Deere opened a factory for mass production of much-needed steel ploughs.
In 1839, American businessmen invented the skill of heating and storing food in airtight tins for it to last for many years without going bad.
This, together with the refrigerator, solved the problem of produce failing to reach the market in good time and condition.
The produce could now draw good prices and big profits.
In 1847, Cyrus McCormick established a factory in Chicago for manufacturing reapers, which he had invented in 1831 In Virginia. Daniel Massey in Canada also invented the reaper. Cormick’s invention of the reaper was negatively received by slave owners, who preferred cheap human labour.
In 1862, the Homestead Act was passed, which legalized individual land ownership and authorised the federal government to grant financial assistance and loans for farmers to buy and develop land. with this, farmers took up large scale farming.
In the 1890s, transport and communication systems and the entire infrastructure were
stepped up, enabling American farmers to easily transport their products and acquire fertilizers, machinery and other necessities much faster than ever before
How the invention of the Spinning Mule in 1791 transformed farming in the USA
Cotton farmers got quick big profits.
More land was opened up for cotton cultivation.
Cotton yields got higher as improved methods were applied.
Cotton became so valuable that it sustained employment for many people in England.
How inventions in and stepping up of transport and communication systems in the 1890s boosted agricultural activities in the USA.
Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telegraph and telephone by 1877 further enhanced communication.
Michael Faraday’s invention of electricity and Thomas Edison’s invention of the electric lump in 1879 as well as the discovery of oil further provided the fuel required by farmers and industrialists for agricultural purposes.
Agriculture and industry were further boosted by the full development and regular or mass production and sale of motor vehicles to the public by 1891 and the invention of the aeroplane by the Wright brothers in 1903, all of which turned the world into a global village.
characteristics of the Agrarian revolution in America
- Large-scale farming for adequate food supply and provision of raw materials for industries.
- Zoning and diversification, due to differences in climate and soil fertility, with various areas specializing in certain farming activities e.g. ranching and dairying in the drier north-eastern parts, cotton cultivation in the south, maize growing in the central region and wheat cultivation in the north-west.
- Heavy investment in the field of science and research. This resulted in better high breed seeds and different strains of livestock. As the use of fertilizer increased, pest control measures were invented.
- Monumental changes and milestones in the development of agriculture in the world, fuelled by peasant emigration into the USA from Europe, bringing skills, enterprise and enthusiasm as well as animal breeds and crop varieties.
- Export trade. American agriculture largely comprised cash crops like sugarcane, cotton, tobacco and indigo, grown to provide raw materials for European (especially British) industries.
- Grants and loans to farmers, for buying and developing land.
the impact of the Agrarian revolution in the USA.
- Diversification of agriculture through the introduction of new crops and animals from Britain.
- Inventions, e.g. the steel plough by John Deere and the reaper by Cyrus McCormick.
- Use of fertilizers and high breed seeds.
- Improved food production.
- Expansion of agriculture-related industries.
- Mechanization of farming to replace slave labour.
- Improvement and expansion of transport network.
- Increased population due to adequate food supply and emigration into the USA from Western Europe.
- Enhancement of research and scientific inventions, particularly in the field of agriculture.
- Increased trade between the USA and Western Europe.