Através dos campos: usos e costumes agrícolas alentejanos
José da Silva Picão
Editor: Lisboa, Neogravura
Year of edition: 1947
“Através dos Campos” describes with detail the state of the agriculture in Alentejo (Portugal) in the transition of the 19th to the 20th century. This is the second edition. The first one published in two volumes dated from 1903 and 1905, respectively. Although it’s mainly focused on the reality of Elvas, where the author was one of the most important farmers, the described realities are easily transposable to the almost all of the Alentejo region and, probably, to the drylands border areas of Spain.
In addition to the rural daily life of agricultural workers, which include ethnographic and private life issues, “Através dos Campos” portrays almost all aspects of the Alentejo agricultural production, from predominant crops, cultivation techniques, selected seeds, machinery employed, labour and its associated seasonal movements. The main asset of this book is the very precise picture of an important period, between «modernity» and «tradition», for agriculture in the southern Iberian Peninsula. Thus, despite Silva Picão’s descriptions about the usage of mechanical thresher and chemical fertilizer, he also is the first to recognize the persistence of the «traditional old farming» instruments and techniques. This book contains a wealth of information, making it essential when it comes to understanding agricultural dynamics in the Iberian drylands during this historical period.