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Demand for Grains

In the sixteenth century, enclosures promoted sheep farming, the land enclosed in the late eighteenth century was for grain production. There was food shortage due to the increase in the population. The urban population also increased rapidly and the market for food grains expanded; the price of the food grains increased with demand.

War with France cost England badly. It disrupted trade and the import of food grains from Europe. Prices of food grains in England sky rocketed, encouraging landowners to enclose lands and enlarge the area under grain cultivation. Profits flowed in and landowners pressurised the Parliament to pass the Enclosure Acts.

The Period of Enclosures

Food grain production in the past had not expanded as the population. In the nineteenth century, this did not happen in England.
Farmers at this time continued to innovate in agriculture. They soon discovered that planting these crops improved the soil and made it more fertile. Turnip was, moreover, a good fodder crop relished by cattle. So they started to cultivate turnips and clover.
Enclosures became a long-term investments on land and necessary plans involved in improving soil by crop rotation. Enclosures allowed the richer landowners to expand the land under their control and produce more for the market.
Enclosures became exclusive property for the landowners. The poor were displaced from the land. They lost their customary rights. They left Midlands and moved to the southern counties of England as there was demand for the agricultural labourers.

The Threshing Machines

The Napoleonic Wars increased the food prices. Fearing a shortage of labour, threshing machines were introduced into the market. After the war, thousands of soldiers returned to their villages and searched for alternative jobs to survive.
England imported food grains by which prices declined and an Agricultural depression took place. The Landowners began to reduce the area they cultivated and demanded that the imports of crops be stopped. During this time, ‘The Captain Swing’ Riots started in the countryside. The poor felt the threshing machines had become a sign of bad times.

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