Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Jethro Tull (agriculturist)
This article is about the English agriculturalist. For the progressive rock band named after him, see Jethro Tull (band).
Tull was born in Basildon , Berkshire (England), and is considered one of the fathers of scientific agriculture. He was instrumental in designing numerous agricultural implements that transformed agriculture, most notably the seed drill in 1708. Prior to Tull, seed was simply cast upon the ground, to grow or lie fallow as it landed. The seed drill opened a hole of a prescribed depth, dropped in a seed, and covered it over, three rows at a time. The result was a greater germination rate, and a much-improved crop yield.
Tull also invented a horse-drawn hoe for clearing weeds, and made changes to the design of the plough that are still visible in modern versions. His interest in ploughing came from his war against weeds, and his belief that plants took their nourishment solely from the minerals in the soil and that organic emendation was not necessary. He knew that horse manure was filled with weed seeds, and hoped to avoid using it as fertiliser by pulverising the soil to make the minerals more available.
Although Tull was in error on this latter point – the error of a pioneer, it should be noted – as a whole his innovations form part of the foundation of productive modern farming. His inventions were controversial at the time and were not adopted for many years.
Tull died in Shalbourne, Berkshire.
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