Conversaciones instructivas en que se trata de fomentar la agricultura por medio del riego de las tierras

Francisco Vidal y Cabasés, 1778

Francisco Vidal y Cabasés was a Spanish priest, machinist and agronomist residing in Madrid. He was a member of the Royal Matritense Economic Society from 1776, attached to the arts and crafts section and published several reports, most of which were transmitted to the Society by the Council of Castile. Among the various works, a number of them can be pointed out: the originality of a flour mill invented by José Ibánez Cuevas (1776); a hydraulic machine designed by Juan Lloréns, put to the test in the Royal Botanical Garden (1776); some machines for grinding chalk invented by Antonio Terán, Ramón Durán and Antonio Durán (1778); a mill to grind wheat and sift flour and other presses designed by the Frenchman Bernardo de Ladreüce (1780); the clock invented by Ramón Durán for the tower of the convent of San Gil in Madrid (1784).

The work Conversaciones instructivas en que se trata de fomentar la agricultura por medio del riego de las tierras was one of the first Spanish treatises on agriculture, published in Spanish in Madrid in 1778. The treatise deals with history of cultivation in Spain, with a comparative look at livestock, work tools and fertilizers, irrigation, and the rural economy. It is divided into several sections, referred to as "Conversations". Offering a general overview of the contents, the different sections are divided as follows: the first deals with the fertility achieved by Spain in the past and the methods of restoring it; the second is about the roots and leaves of plants and the method of tillage and fertilization of the fields; the third is concerned with the new cultivation of wheat; the forth is about the cultivation of vineyards and the art of extracting wine; the fifth is about the construction of canals and the discovery of water for the irrigation of the land; the sixth is on the improvement of the pernicious waters to the lands and about the choice of the most conducive lands for the directions of the canals; the seventh is the continuation of the construction of canals and other works relating to it; the eighth is on construction of machines for irrigation and about other methods of directing the rivers and defend the land from being overthrown by the currents and floods; and the last one is about the construction of waterwheels wells and the means to simplify it and make the pumps to draw water from it and rivers.

Vidal’s treatise can be found in several European libraries, including the Portuguese National Library (BNP) in Lisbon, the library from the Royal Palace in Spain, the library from Navarra’s University in Spain and the Agro-museum from Vera in Spain.

Editions & Translators

  • The book was first published in 1775. It was published in Madrid in 1778.


[1] Arquivo da Royal Economic Society of Matritense of Friends of the Country, pernas. 5,2 (1776), 9,18 (1776), 10,7 (1776), 28,9 (1779), 32,12 (1780), 36,11 (1780), 48,9 (1782), 60,6 (1784), 61,5 (1784), 64,11 (1785), 68,19 (1785), 74,14 (1785) e 175,4 (1802).

[2] E. Lluch e L. Argemí, Agronomia e fisocracia na Espanha (1750-1820) , Valência, Instituto Alfonso el Magnánimo, 1985; F. Aguilar Piñal, Bibliografia de autores espanhóis do século 18 , vol. VIII, Madrid, Conselho Superior de Pesquisa Científica, 1995, pp. 407-408.