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An Account of the System of Husbandry
Adopted in the more Improved Districts of Scotland b\y Sir John Sinclair, Bart. (1812)


I have at length the satisfaction of laying before the Public, an Account of the Systems of Husbandry adopted in the more improved districts of Scotland. It was drawn up at the request of a most respectable friend, (Sir Joseph Banks), who thought, that such an investigation, would be beneficial to the agricultural interests of the united kingdom; and he urged, that it was incumbent upon a native of Scotland, while presiding at the Board of Agriculture, and possessing all the means of information which that situation afforded, to undertake the task. Being occupied with many other avocations, nothing but the respect which I entertain for the opinion of so zealous a friend to improvement, could have induced me to engage in so arduous an attempt. Indeed the labour and difficulties attending it, have gone far beyond every idea I could have formed of them. To execute the task in a satisfactory manner, it seemed to me necessary, personally to examine several of the more improved districts in Scotland, to converse with the farmers in their own fields, to explain to them distinctly, not only the general objects I had in view, but also the particular facts I wished to ascertain; and to obtain from them, not hasty answers, to questions suddenly put, but details, maturely considered, and carefully drawn up. The reader has now an opportunity of examining the result of the whole investigation. The Author claims the merit only of collecting, condensing, and digesting, the important information which was most liberally furnished. The credit of the knowledge which this Work may contain, belongs entirely to the intelligent and public-spirited Farmers from whom that information has been derived.

I trust that there are several observations contained in this Work, which will prove of service in those districts of England, where the cultivation of arable land, owing to the attention of the farmer having been principally directed to the management of grass land, to the profits of the dairy, and to the breeding of stock, has hitherto been but a secondary object. At the same time, it has been my wish, to make this Treatise useful also to the farmers of Scotland; and for that purpose, I have incorporated a variety of hints, which attention to English Husbandry, and the communications of many respectable correspondents in the southern part of the united kingdom, have enabled me to suggest.

I cannot submit this work to the consideration of the Public, without congratulating my country, on the anxious desire to obtain agricultural knowledge, which now so universally prevails in every part of the united kingdom. Indeed, when I consider that zeal for improvement, and that thirst for useful information, by which the British Isles, are, at this period of time, so peculiarly distinguished, I cannot entertain a doubt, that Agriculture will soon reach a degree of excellence in this country, which it has never hitherto attained in any other; and that the merit of discovering the most effectual means, “of providing food for man” the first of all political objects, will, in future ages, be attributed, to the skill, the abilities, and the enterprise of British Farmers.

Charlotte Square. Edinburgh,
24th February 1812.

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