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Plant science: Plant science made enormous strides over the course of the twentieth century, and especially the second half, vastly increasing both the understanding of, and the yields from, crop production.

Experimental plant science

Further developments, most notably with genetic modification, are the subject of much public debate. From an English perspective, the pioneers of this new science in the second half of the nineteenth century were John Bennet Lawes, the owner of a country estate at Rothamsted in Hertfordshire and the young scientist he recruited in 1843, Henry Gilbert. Lawes and Gilbert worked together for more than fifty years, turning Rothamsted into a research station that was known around the world for its meticulous investigations into all aspects of plant growth. Rothamsted was taken into public hands in 1934 and it remains as an important part of the agricultural research establishment. The photograph, showing experimental work in progress, was taken in the 1940s.

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Plant science


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The Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, UK.
Email: merl@reading.ac.uk Telephone: 0118 378 8660