Celebrating 24 Years on the Web
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
more quiz questions >>
Thumbnail of Jethro Tull (source)
Jethro Tull
(baptised 30 Mar 1674 - 21 Feb 1741)

English writer and agronomist who invented a horse-drawn drill around 1701.

Jethro Tull

from The New American Cyclopaedia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge (1858)

Jethro Tull - upper body, colorized
Jethro Tull
colorization © todayinsci (Terms of Use) (source)

Please respect the colorization artist’s wishes and do not copy this image for ONLINE use anywhere else.

Thank you.

For offline use, click Terms of Use tab on top menu.

The experiments and writings of Jethro Tull, in the early part of the 18th century, are among the first important attempts at real progress in the agriculture of modern times. Tull was undoubtedly a man of genius. Writers before his time had confined themselves mainly to plain statements of the practical details of farming, recommending such new practices as appeared to them worthy of adoption, and condemning the errors of their contemporaries. Tull did far more. He struck out new paths of practice, invented new modes of culture, and his investigations into the principles of fertility, fairly entitle him to the credit of being a “great original discoverer,” though the errors into which he fell in his zealous enthusiasm, very naturally brought more or less discredit upon his whole theory, which it has been the work of time to dissipate. But we can excuse his failures and the errors of his system, when we consider that he, like all his predecessors, were groping in the dark, before chemistry and geology had made known the elements of soil and of plants, and shown how the latter derive their support and nourishment.

Tull invented and introduced the horse hoe, which has now become an exceedingly important and labor-saving implement, and the drill-husbandry. The latter had, indeed, had been known previously, in Spain, and, according to some, in Germany also, but it was not known to any extent in England; and to Tull, more than to any other, belongs the credit of having introduced it into modern English agriculture. He also invented the threshing machine, though the flail was almost universally used in England till the close of the last century.

His doctrine, that plants derived their nourishment from minute particles of soil, and that repeated and thorough pulverization was therefore necessary, not only as an initial preparation, but during the growth of the plant, led directly to the practice of drilling grain crops, and the awkwardness and prejudice of his workmen led to the introduction of the drilling machine, and the horse hoe, as a substitute for hand labor. So far Tull was right in his practice, however incorrect the reasons of his theory may have been. The best practical farmers of the present day believe in, and practise, frequent, deep, and thorough pulverization of the soil, not because the plant is supposed to live on minute particles of earth, but to admit the air, and moisture, freely to the roots.

Tull's theory of the nutrition of plants has not been without its followers, however, Duhamel himself having adopted, and labored to spread it. Tull believed, to some extent, in the use of manures, but chiefly as dividers of the soil, as a means of improving its physical texture, and not because he supposed them to furnish any nutriment to the plants themselves. His ignorance of the constituents of manures, as brought to light in the modern days of chemistry, led him into this error. Had this science made such progress as to be able to teach the true nature of plants, and manures in his time, he would have been the last to adopt the mistaken views referred to.

Tull's system of husbandry found very few followers at first, and those who adopted it were, in many cases, obliged to return to the old methods, for want of the necessary mechanical instruments for following his directions; but it has been more recently revived, mechanical skill making it practical and comparatively easy of application, while thorough drainage, trenching, and subsoil ploughing, have gained the assent of most intelligent farmers. Even his drilling system, for wheat and other grain crops, has been extensively adopted in Great Britain, and is fast gaining favor.

The original text was set in one paragraph. Paragraph breaks have been added on this web page to improve readability. Image added (not in original article) using b/w image from source shown above, and colorized for this web page. Excerpt from: George Ripley (ed.), 'Agriculture', The New American Cyclopaedia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge (1865), Vol. 1, 230-231. (source)

See also:

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)

Thank you for sharing.
- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

by Ian Ellis
who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.