Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The steam mechanisation of agriculture, 1840-1930
Author: McCutchan, Jane Seaton
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Rapid globalization from 1860-1930 had an enormous impact on world agriculture but one under-explored feature is the increasing role of capital intensive agriculture over the period. The thesis explores the first survey of almost 7,000 self-moving traction engines designed for steam ploughing, called ploughing engines produced in England by the major manufacturers. Manufacturers' data (production date, engine type, horsepower, key variants and the location of owners during the study period) was compiled in Access and analysed. The data show most new domestic sales occurred by 1879, mainly to individuals, but a brisk second-hand market encouraged the development of steam contracting companies. Orders from foreign governments accelerated overseas sales after the 1880s. GIS (geographic information systems) software was used to test the hypothesis that the emerging railway network facilitated early UK ploughing engine distribution and the thesis shows it had an important impact on ploughing engine diffusion, at least in the early years of the industry. The hypothesis that soil type influenced the distribution of ploughing engines was also tested using the GIS mapping tool, by superimposing ploughing engine locations onto digitised soil maps of England and Wales, but these results are inconclusive. To assess the relative importance of the variables shaping ploughing engine diffusion, sales data is explained by regression analysis of price changes for arable products compared with the price of coal. Tillage of wheat and proximity to urban centres together explain more than half the variation across counties in 1879. The previous scholarly consensus was that the effect of the steam plough on agriculture was minimal so the topic has received little attention in the literature. Until now, it has not been possible to build up an accurate sales picture because of lack of evidence, but the thesis suggests that steam ploughing engines were a bigger factor than previously thought in agricultural development in certain key parts of South Eastern England and the Midlands. The thesis also shows that there was a financial benefit from the displacement of horses by steam; engines could plough heavy land and bring new land into production.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available