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People, Plants and GenesThe Story of Crops and Humanity$
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Denis J Murphy

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207145

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207145.001.0001

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Agricultural improvement and the rise of crop breeding

Agricultural improvement and the rise of crop breeding

(p.234) chapter 14 Agricultural improvement and the rise of crop breeding
People, Plants and Genes

Denis J. Murphy

Oxford University Press

The Renaissance provided some stimulus to European agriculture but a far more profound phenomenon after 1550 CE was a ‘neonaissance’ involving the creation and publishing de novo of reliable knowledge based on systematic observation. This was paralleled by the emergence of an entrepreneurial culture, especially in the maritime nations of England and the Netherlands, that encouraged exploration and agrarian innovation for private profit. In England, land enclosure began as a way to establish farming as a profitable business venture rather than as a socially based subsistence activity. Practical scientific breeding began to emerge in the 17th century with a newly united Britain and the independent Netherlands as major centres. This process was assisted by improved literacy and the establishment of agricultural and scientific societies, such as the Royal Society in London.

Keywords:   crop improvement, Royal Society of London, Renaissance, neonaissance, enclosures, scientific breeding

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