Olivier de Serres

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Olivier de Serres (1539 – 1619) was a French author and soil scientist whose Théâtre d'Agriculture (1600) was the text book of French agriculture in the 17th century.[1]


Serres was born at Villeneuve-de-Berg, Ardèche. His brother, Jean de Serres, was a well-known French humanist and translated the complete works of Plato.

His book was notable for its recommendation to wine growers that they plant 5-6 varieties in their vineyards to balance the risk of a crop failing, and the early advocating of crop rotation. 'Le théâtre de l'agriculture' recommends Métayage (Sharecropping) as cash tenants took all the risks so would demand lower rent while hired labour was expensive to manage. Sharecroppers administer themselves and risks are divided with the landlord. Olivier only thought large landowners should take the risk of hiring labourers and running the estate themselves.[2]

See also


  1. Hugh Johnson, Vintage: The Story of Wine pg 122. Simon and Schuster 1989
  2. The Economic Theory of Sharecropping in Early Modern France, Philip Hoffman, The Journal of Economic History 1984, page 312

External links