Abstract

During the agricultural revolution, land drainage in England transformed landscapes from wetlands to productive fields and pastures. Two of Great Britain's most famous land drainers, Joseph Elkington and William Smith, 200 years ago separately undertook then pioneering work to improve the land of the Duke of Bedford at Priestley Farm. Based on historical maps, archival information, and aerial photographs, as well as discussions with the current property owner and field reconnaissance of geologic and cultural features, we have identified the exact locations of two drained fields sketched by William Smith in his 1806 publication. The fields are significant in the agricultural history of England because experimental irrigation and drainage conducted there was undertaken, perhaps for the first time, to demonstrate agricultural advances for the national benefit.

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