The Future of British Agriculture

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    THE opening chapters of this little book are devoted to the solution of the questions, “Will wheat-raising pay in Great Britain?” and “Is wheat to be no longer king?” After indicating the reasons which led to the enormous reduction of land under wheat—a decrease of something like 42 per cent, within the last twenty-five years—Prof. Sheldon comes to the conclusion, that, notwithstanding the importation of foreign wheat, and the fact that an ever-increasing demand for milk (of all farm products the least suitable for importation) necessitates larger areas of grass land, wheat-growing will not only continue, but may soon reach its former position, an event which he would not consider to be “a a sign of unadulterated good.” In connection with the question of wheat-production in the United States, there is one statement, made on the authority of leading American statistical experts, which we venture to think requires qualification, namely, “that in less than twenty years from 10 to 15 per cent, of the people's food will have to be imported into the United States.” This is a point on which there may well be diversity of opinion, but, as pointed out by Messrs. Lawes and Gilbert in their recent paper on “Allotments and Small Holdings,” the conditions will be quite changed with increased population, rotation will gradually become general, yielding various food products for home consumption; the soil will be better cultivated, yielding much larger crops of wheat where it is grown; straw and manure will no longer be burnt or wasted; and, lastly, there are still considerable areas of rich prairie land to be brought under the plough. So that it is probable that increased density of population will less rapidly diminish the capability of production for export than may, at first sight, be supposed.

    The Future of British Agriculture.

    By Prof. Sheldon. (London: W. H. Allen and Co., Ltd., 1893.)

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    The Future of British Agriculture. Nature 48, 174 (1893) doi:10.1038/048174a0

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