4 Agricultural Innovations In New Spain

Agricultural innovations in New Spain began after the establishment of the viceroyalty of New Spain by the Spanish Empire as of March 8, 1535.

After the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521 and the conquest of Mexico, the Spanish began the great Conquest and with this they introduced wheat, grapes and olives, which grew very well in those lands.

The technique from Europe helped the large production that took place in New Spain and promoted the growth of agricultural activity to the point of making it export.

However, in general agriculture found itself in a precarious situation, due to the fact that the lands were owned by very few, the fertile soil was not worked and there was slow progress.

The main tropical crops in New Spain were sugar cane, cotton, cocoa, vanilla, and indigo.

The most important agricultural innovations in New Spain

Innovations in technology

It was not just about new seeds and crops, but about how to sow and harvest.

The arrival of the Spanish introduced techniques such as plowing, roasting, shoveling and crop rotation, which not only optimized planting and harvesting but also changed the landscape.

The yoke and wooden or metal plows, both by animal and human traction, optimized the use of the land.

These techniques included hydration of the soil and the establishment of quantifiable periods for harvesting, thus giving predictable results compared to the relative chance with which many indigenous populations lived.

The populations of America had certain techniques for cultivation, but the European contribution in systematizing production is undeniable.

The wheat

The main crop of the Spaniards in the viceroyalty was wheat, a staple food in much of Europe and which was no exception in Spain.

It had its greatest boom in the state of Puebla, in the center of present-day Mexico. This area was known as the granary of New Spain for two centuries.

From 1550 it began to be harvested and it remained part of the diet not only of Mexico but of the entire continent.

Its permanence was due not only to Spanish influence but also to that of other immigrants from Italy, France and Portugal, who had wheat-based products such as bread and pasta as part of their diets.

Coffee, banana and orange

The viceroyalty of New Spain originally extended from the southern part of the United States, through Mexico and Central America, to the northern part of present-day South America.

It was in these lands where the best coffee and banana harvests took place, especially in what came to be called Nueva Granada, which included Colombia and Venezuela. Both countries are currently coffee producers.

The banana soared in such a way that it is part of the tables in all the Caribbean countries.

For its part, the orange is one of the main products of the states of Florida and California, both belonging to New Spain in the 16th century and which are currently part of the United States.

Changes in economic and social activity

Agriculture provided a basic, constant and reliable livelihood to the pre-Hispanic population, whether they were Spanish, indigenous or slaves, despite the fact that the labor force came mainly from the latter two groups.

The precedent of fiscal charges and payment of taxes was established together with the development of agriculture, to the point of evolving in different ways in the current economic systems in all the countries of America after the independence of the continent from Spanish power.


  1. Agricultural and mining innovations in New Spain – Escolares.net
  2. Agricultural innovations, mining technology and the beginnings of industrial activity GoConqr – goconqr.com
  3. Viceroyalty_of_Nueva_España – Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org
  4. Puebla the granary of New Spain – The five fires loscincofuegos.com
  5. The Establishment of Cattle, Wheat and other spices vhistmex.blogspot.com

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