Seed Drill / Automatic Hoe


Jethro Tull invented a new type of tiller and planter, an automatic hoe. His machine turned soil over and planted seeds, something people had to do by hand before that time.

Related image
No, not that Jethro Tull

Tull was educated as a lawyer. He practiced law for a short while, couldn’t stand the work, and went into farming.

Tull’s farm was what today we call organic; he did not believe in adding any type of fertilizer to the soil, only in using a hoe.

Inspired either by a visit to France, where he went to recover from an illness or possibly his short stint practicing law, Tull refused to spread manure.

Tull published his work, describing both how the hoe and seed drill worked as well as advocating for organic farming methods. He also talked about his struggles with his own workers, who were afraid the hoe would render them jobless.

The Luddites working for Tull were not especially enthused with Tull’s hoe. Note that Luddites are never enthused about automation equipment despite that it historically rarely costs them jobs.

Tull’s hoe never caught on widely in his native England but the hoe became wildly popular in the American colonies. Americans loved the hoe.

Hand hoeing and seeding remained common in England for well over a century after Tull’s invention. Due to the delay, American agriculture quickly overtook England. In later years, most agricultural equipment — including technological breakthroughs — was innovated in the US. Specifically, International Harvester and John Deere derived from a spirit of innovation Americans embraced that the English refused.

After Tull’s death, most of his farm was auctioned off. In the 1800s his farm was excavated and one of his original hoes was found at the bottom of a well. Normally, it’s very bad when a hoe is found at the bottom of a well but, in this case, it was an important archeological find. Tull’s hoe was moved to a museum.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *