Überblick:Synopsis In many ways the history of England is the history of its agriculture. From medieval strip fields through the days of enclosure to the modern day dichotomy between the hedge-grubbing 'prairie' farmers and the organic enthusiasts the changes in the way our countryside have been farmed have impacted on far more than merely the production of sufficient food. They have changed our very landscape and in some cases they have changed society. Neither has it been a peaceful story played out in some agrarian Arcadian backwater. The riots inspired by 'Captain Swing' and the poverty of years of bad harvests and industrial depression testify to a struggle as bitter as that of any 'Luddite' and the battles surrounding repeal of the Corn Laws reverberated to the very gates of Parliament. Today farming and rural affairs are still 'hot topics'. But to understand where we are now we need to know what has gone before; we need to understand how farming changed from being essentially a subsistence activity to being an industry whose factory floor was green fields quartered by the hedgerows of the Enclosure Acts for over a hundred years. Jethro Tull is a pivotal figure in this development.Yet at the same time he belongs demonstrably to a tradition. A tradition of those who sought to 'improve' the yield of agriculture by 'scientific' means. Even at the time Tull was formulating his ideas Richard Bradley was writing his books on improving farming and planting. While not in direct linear progression the work of Jethro Tull does undoubtedly belong in a tradition which led also to William Marshall Arthur Young and Edward Lisle. Born in Basildon Berkshire in 1764 and originally destined for a law career Jethro Tull underwent a career change in 1699 and began farming with his father near Wallingford Oxfordshire. At that time seed was still 'broadcast' into furrows by hand and he quickly realised that a more efficient way of distributing it was needed. Earlier in his life he had once dismantled a pipe-organ and the application of that technology to agricultural machinery led him to adapt a rotating cylinder with grooves that released seed in a measured way into the furrow and immediately closed it up afterwards.In 1709 he moved to a farm near Hungerford which then became the 'test bed' for various revisions of the seed drill and also for his horse-drawn hoe which he invented to clear away weeds. The publication of his famous book 'The New Horse-Hoeing Husbandry' in 1731 with the sub-title 'an Essay on the Principles of Tillage and Nutrition' caused great controversy and argument at the time and has continued in some cases to do so. Though his theories on how plants derived nutrition (he believed that pulverising the soil would release the essential 'atoms' needed by plants and remove the need for manure) have led some to dismiss him as a crank nevertheless his main questions go straight to the heart of the farming dilemma of today. How and when should machinery be employed what is the correct balance between man and nature in the creation of food by agriculture and what impact does this have on the rural vista which we see around us?This then was a man who almost literally sowed the seeds of our present farming paradoxes; beginning or at least accelerating a process which raised questions that are still unresolved today about what the countryside is for and what part mechanised versus traditional farming should play in the greater scheme of rural life and traditions. Armed with this knowledgeable factual and long overdue guide we may still not have the answers but this life of Jethro Tull by author George Tull setting him in his Berkshire context will at least have given us an understanding of the questions.