Farm enclosure was an idea that developed during the Agricultural Revolution in Britain in the 17th-18th centuries. Prior to enclosure, farmers in a village had access to all open fields. Enclosure led to fields being specialized for specific crops.
Farming in rows was the most efficient way for farm workers (in some cases, slaves) to tend to the crops. As mechanized farm equipment was developed in the mid-late 1800s, it became even more efficient to farm in rows so the tractors could drive down straight paths through the field without disturbing the crops.
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