The Second Agricultural Revolution: A Transformative Era in Human Geography

The Second Agricultural Revolution was a significant historical period that marked a fundamental shift in agricultural practices and had a profound impact on human geography. This revolution, which occurred from the late 17th century to the mid-19th century, brought about innovations and advancements that transformed the way food was produced and led to significant social and economic changes. In this article, we will explore the definition, key characteristics, and the implications of the Second Agricultural Revolution in the context of AP Human Geography.

1. Definition of the Second Agricultural Revolution
The Second Agricultural Revolution, also known as the British Agricultural Revolution, refers to the period of agricultural advancements that took place in Western Europe, particularly in Britain, during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was characterized by a shift from traditional farming methods to more modern, efficient, and productive agricultural practices. The introduction of new technologies, crop rotation systems, and the enclosure movement were some of the key features of this revolution.

2. Key Characteristics of the Second Agricultural Revolution
Several key characteristics distinguish the Second Agricultural Revolution:

a. Enclosure Movement: One of the significant developments during this period was the enclosure movement, where common lands were consolidated into individual privately owned fields. This allowed landowners to implement modern farming techniques and increase agricultural productivity.

b. Crop Rotation: Innovations in crop rotation practices were introduced during this period. Farmers began rotating crops in specific sequences, which helped improve soil fertility and reduced the risk of depleting nutrients.

c. Selective Breeding: The Second Agricultural Revolution saw the adoption of selective breeding techniques for livestock. By breeding animals with desirable traits, farmers could enhance the quality and productivity of their livestock.

d. Mechanization: The introduction of agricultural machinery, such as the seed drill and horse-drawn plow, revolutionized farming by increasing efficiency and reducing the labor required for planting and harvesting.

e. Increased Productivity: The combined effects of these advancements led to a significant increase in agricultural productivity. More food could be produced with fewer inputs, contributing to population growth and urbanization.

3. Implications for AP Human Geography
The Second Agricultural Revolution had far-reaching implications for AP Human Geography:

a. Urbanization: Increased agricultural productivity meant that fewer farmers were needed to produce food, leading to a surplus of labor. This surplus labor migrated to urban centers, contributing to the growth of cities and urbanization.

b. Population Growth: With more food available, populations grew rapidly during this period. The increased food supply supported population growth, which, in turn, fueled the demand for labor in urban industries.

c. Agricultural Practices and Land Use: The adoption of new farming techniques and enclosure policies transformed the landscape of rural areas. The consolidation of land and new farming methods altered land use patterns.

d. Industrial Revolution: The Second Agricultural Revolution laid the foundation for the Industrial Revolution. As agricultural productivity increased, fewer people were needed to work on farms, leading to a surplus of labor that became available for industrial jobs.

The Second Agricultural Revolution was a transformative period in human geography, revolutionizing farming practices, increasing agricultural productivity, and setting the stage for significant social and economic changes. The adoption of new technologies, crop rotation systems, and enclosure policies had far-reaching implications for urbanization, population growth, and the emergence of the Industrial Revolution. The legacy of the Second Agricultural Revolution continues to shape modern agricultural practices and their impact on society and the environment.

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