I have posted a quick outline sketch of trends and institutions in UK agricultural research and education here.
Also, a recent post at the Board of Longitude project blog got me thinking a little bit about the idea of a “Board” in the British state. I tried to post the following comment there, but it did not go through, so I thought here might be a good place to drop it.
I would be very much interested in anything you might have to say about the evolving idea and function of the “Board” in the British state. Here at Imperial College London, we are running a working group on agricultural history, and although we deal mainly with the 20th century, we are interested in antecedent problems as well.
The first Board of Agriculture (1793-1820) seems to have had the Board of Trade primarily in mind as a predecessor organization, but also, to my surprise, the Royal Society. As a body oriented toward “improvement” (or, indeed, “perfection”) it also has some affinity with the Board of Longitude. The precedent/rationales for sponsoring these sorts of bodies is sketched here, but this is just after some cursory searching. Please do post whatever you might find out about this topic.