Official 23 Passage 1


Seventeenth-Century Dutch Agriculture


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Some villages specialized in growing cabbages and carrots; others grew onions, mustard, and coriander; and still others produced fruit and cultivated trees in nurseries.


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  • Agriculture and fishing formed the primary sector of the economy in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. Dutch agriculture was modernized and commercialized: new crops and agricultural techniques raised levels of production so that they were in line with market demands, and cheap grain was imported annually from the Baltic region in large quantities. According to estimates, about 120,000 tons of imported grain fed about 600,000 people; that is, about a third of the Dutch population. Importing the grain, which would have been expensive and time consuming for the Dutch to have produced themselves, kept the price of grain low and thus stimulated individual demand for other foodstuffs and consumer goods.

    Apart from this, being able to give up labor-intensive grain production freed both the land and the workforce for more productive agricultural divisions. The peasants specialized in livestock husbandry and dairy farming as well as in cultivating industrial crops and fodder crops; flax, madder, and rape were grown, as were tobacco, hops, and turnips. These products were bought mostly by urban businesses. There was also a demand among urban consumers for dairy products such as butter and cheese, which, in the sixteenth century, had become more expensive than grain. The high prices encouraged the peasants to improve their animal husbandry techniques; for example, they began feeding their animals indoors in order to raise the milk yield of their cows.

    In addition to dairy farming and cultivating industrial crops, a third sector of the Dutch economy reflected the way in which agriculture was being modernized-horticulture. In the sixteenth century, fruit and vegetables were to be found only in gardens belonging to wealthy people. This changed in the early part of the seventeenth century when horticulture became accepted as an agricultural sector. Whole villages began to cultivate fruit and vegetables. The produce was then transported by water to markets in the cities, where the consumption of fruit and vegetables was no longer restricted to the wealthy.

    As the demand for agricultural produce from both consumers and industry increased, agricultural land became more valuable and people tried to work the available land more intensively and to reclaim more land from wetlands and lakes. In order to increase production on existing land, the peasants made more use of crop rotation and, in particular, began to apply animal waste to the soil regularly, rather than leaving the fertilization process up to the grazing livestock. For the first time industrial waste, such as ash from the soap-boilers, was collected in the cities and sold in the country as artificial fertilizer. The increased yield and price of land justified reclaiming and draining even more land.

    The Dutch battle against the sea is legendary. Noorderkwartier in Holland, with its numerous lakes and stretches of water, was particularly suitable for land reclamation and one of the biggest projects undertaken there was the draining of the Beemster lake, which began in 1608. The richest merchants in Amsterdam contributed money to reclaim a good 7,100 hectares of land. Forty-three windmills powered the drainage pumps so that they were able to lease the reclamation to farmers as early as 1612, with the investors receiving annual leasing payments at an interest rate of 17 percent. Land reclamation continued, and between 1590 and 1665 almost 100,000 hectares were reclaimed from the wetland areas of Holland, Zeeland, and Friesland. However, land reclamation decreased significantly after the middle of the seventeenth century because the price of agricultural products began to fall, making land reclamation far less profitable in the second part of the century.

    Dutch agriculture was finally affected by the general agricultural crisis in Europe during the last two decades of the seventeenth century. However, what is astonishing about this is not that Dutch agriculture was affected by critical phenomena such as a decrease in sales and production, but the fact that the crisis appeared only relatively late in Dutch agriculture. In Europe as a whole, the exceptional reduction in the population and the related fall in demand for grain since the beginning of the seventeenth century had caused the price of agricultural products to fall. Dutch peasants were able to remain unaffected by this crisis for a long time because they had specialized in dairy farming, industrial crops, and horticulture. However, toward the end of the seventeenth century, they too were overtaken by the general agricultural crisis.

  • 农业和渔业是十七世纪荷兰经济的主要部分。 荷兰农业实现了现代化和商业化,新型的农作物和农业技术提高了农产量,以适应市场的需要,而且每年都会从波罗的海地区进口大量便宜的粮食。 据估计,进口的12万吨粮食养活着大约60万人:大概相当于荷兰人口的三分之一。 荷兰人自己生产这些粮食昂贵又费时,进口粮食使得现在粮食的价格保持在低位,因而刺激了个人对其他食物和消费品的需求。

    除了这些,放弃这种劳动密集型的粮食生产解放了土地和劳动力使之能够参与到更高效的农业生产中。 农民在家畜养殖业、乳品业与栽培经济作物和饲料作物(亚麻,茜草,油菜和烟草,啤酒花,芜菁)方面已经专业化。这些产品大多是由城市企业购买。 城镇消费者对黄油和奶酪一类的乳制品同样有需求,这些东西在十六世纪就比粮食要贵了。 高价格促使农民提高他们的畜牧技术,比如他们开始圈养这些动物以提高奶牛的奶产量。

    除了乳品业和工业作物的种植,园艺是荷兰农业经济现代化的第三个部分。 在十六世纪,水果和蔬菜只属于有钱人的花园。 直到十七世纪早期这一情况才发生变化,园艺成为农业的一部分。 整个村庄开始种植蔬菜和水果。 产品通过水路运送到城市的市场中,在那里水果和蔬菜的消费也不再只是有钱人的专利。

    随着消费者和工业对农产品的需求增加,耕地变得越来越珍贵,人们对可耕地的利用强度越来越大,并且从湿地和湖泊中开垦了更多的耕地。 为了增加已有土地的产量,农民们更多利用农作物轮作,特别是用动物粪便来给土地定期施肥而不是随意让吃草的牲畜来进行施肥。 城市首次收集工业废料, 比如煮皂的灰料和城市废料,并作为人工肥料售给乡下。 产量的增加和土地价格的上涨使得开垦和灌溉更多的土地变得有利可图。

    荷兰与海的斗争是传奇式的。 北荷兰有许多湖泊和临海区,特别适合开垦土地,其中完成的最大的一个工程是1608年贝母斯特湖的排水。 阿姆斯特丹最富有的商人们投入资金来开垦这片7 100公顷的土地。 四十三台风车推动着抽水泵以便能在1612年把开垦土地租给农民,而投资者每年从租金中获得17%的利息。 土地开垦一直在继续,在1590到1665年之间,将近十万公顷的土地从荷兰、泽兰和弗里斯兰的湿地中开垦出来。 然而,土地开垦在十七世纪中叶大幅减少,因为农产品的价格开始回落,使得土地开垦的利润在十七世纪下半叶不是那么丰厚了。

    荷兰农业最后受到十七世纪最后的二十年欧洲主要农业危机的影响。 不过,令人惊讶的不是荷兰农业受到这些危机现象的影响而导致产量和销售量的降低,而是这些危机在荷兰农业中发生得相当晚。 欧洲总体来讲,异常的人口减少和相应的对粮食需求的下降从十七世纪早期就开始了,导致农产品价格的下跌。 荷兰农民能够在这种危机中长期不受影响是因为他们在乳制品、经济作物以及园艺上的专门化。 然而,在十七世纪晚期,他们还是没有逃脱普遍的农业危机。
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    选项分析:比较四个空,发现第四个插入口前一句Whole villages began to cultivate fruit and vegetables.,后面必然会接着说具体有哪些类型的水果和蔬菜,代入插入句,这样符合叙述逻辑。因此,空四是正确的选择。