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The third agrarian revolution: from production and consumption to relations

The third agrarian revolution: from production and consumption to relations

In the 19th century Swedish agriculture underwent big changes. The earlier agriculture system was founded on a high share of permanent meadows where winter feed for the livestock was harvested. The manure was spread on the arable land where food for humans were grown. During the summer (4-6 months depending on where in Sweden you were) livestock grazed the utmarker (back country) the land which now mostly is densely forested, but was much more open in those days.  With the introduction of crop rotations the production of fodder was brought into the arable land and at the same time most of the permanent meadows were plowed and converted to arable land. Through the use of leguminous plants, in particular clover, the availability of the important nitrogen increased substantially.

The population also grew, but food production increased considerably more than the population. According to the recently published Agrar revolution by professor Mats Morell, the total energy production per person and day went from 4,000 kcal in the beginning of the 19th century to more than 5,000 kcal in the end of the century and the availability of animal foods was even higher than the consumption today.

The higher yields were mostly gained through an intensification of work. People worked more and a longer time of the year. One such example is the introduction of potatoes. The potato gave a higher yield but it also prolonged the work in the fields as it was planted after the grain was sown and harvested after the grain harvest. Finally, a lot of the potatoes were further processed into brännvin (vodka) during winter. In a similar way more and better feed gave more milk, and more cheese- and buttermaking. The increase in animal production also took more time.

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