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Where theres Muck theres Brass The Market for Manure in the Industrial Revolution

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  • Liam Brunt

Abstract

Between 1700 and 1850, English grain yields were substantially higher than those attained in other countries. It is widely believed that yields were constrained by the availability of nitrogen, and that supplies of nitrogen were effectively limited to animal dung produced on the farm. This paper presents the first systematic analysis of off-farm sources of nitrogen, such as urban and industrial waste. We show that the use of off-farm nitrogen was both widespread and intensive by 1700, contrary to the received wisdom. We further argue that there was only modest growth in the use of off-farm nitrogen up to 1850. We explain this pattern of use of off-farm nitrogen by supply and demand factors. We use a new method of estimation to show that the overall impact was to raise wheat yields by a constant 20 per cent throughout the period.

Suggested Citation

  • Liam Brunt, 2000. "Where theres Muck theres Brass The Market for Manure in the Industrial Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers 2000-W35, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:2000-w35
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2271/DP35A4.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Regina Grafe & Camilla Brautaset, 2006. "The Quiet Transport Revolution: Returns to Scale, Scope and Network Density in Norway`s Nineteenth-Century Sailing Fleet," Economics Series Working Papers 2006-W62, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    2. James Malcomson & Martin Chalkley, 2001. "Cost Sharing in Health Service Provision: An Empirical Assessment of Cost Savings," Economics Series Working Papers 69, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. J.Humphries & T. Leunig, 2007. "Cities, Market Integration and Going to Sea: Stunting and the standard of living in early nineteenth-century England and Wales," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _066, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    4. repec:ris:badest:0498 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Asadullah, Mohammad Niaz, 2010. "Educational Disparity in East and West Pakistan, 1947-71: Was East Pakistan Discriminated Against?," Bangladesh Development Studies, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), vol. 33(3), pages 1-46, September.
    6. Robert Dryburgh, 2003. "Individual, Illegal, and Unjust Purposes': Overseers, Incentives, and the Old Poor Law in Bolton, 1820-1837," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _050, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    7. repec:oxf:wpaper:69.2 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    agriculture; renewable resources; extractive industries;

    JEL classification:

    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation

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