Farming is both a very traditional and a very experimental and innovative activity. On the one hand, we are inevitably tied to the land and its attributes, whether they are constraints or benefits. On the other we have experience, science and happenstance to provide new ways of doing things – as usual necessity is often the mother of invention and, of course, most farms are almost entirely held together by baler twine!
The innovations started when moving from nomadic to pastoral and then to tillage systems and the first important innovations were the plough, followed considerably later by the mould-board to turn the furrows more effectively, and of course the rotation of crops to eradicate diseases and feed the soil. Originally we were all “organic” and it was only following the discovery that some intensive farming practices might be destroying the soil that the Soil Association and the current organic systems appeared during the twentieth century. This recent period has also seen accelerating innovation in terms of the controversial genetic engineering or modification and cloning.