spring AGRICULTURE


(3/29/2017)

They changed farming forever

Our society has grown in many ways and fortunately continues to grow. But sometimes we forget about the simplest things. Things that happened long ago that changed our lives forever. One area that we probably take for granted is the advancements in farming. Some of them changed how we lived and some of them made our lives much easier.

Most of us probably remember Eli Whitney and his cotton gin from history class. In our country’s colonial period we discovered our love of cotton, but found that it was difficult to produce. The difficulty came from the time it took to separate the cotton seeds from the cotton fiber. Eli Whitney’s cotton gin changed all that. His invention could clean 1,000 pounds of cotton in the same time it took to clean five pounds by hand.

The counterpart to Whitney’s cotton gin was the thresher. Whereas Whitney’s invention revolutionized the processing of cotton, the thresher did the same for grain. The thresher mechanized the separation of grain kernels from the straw. 

An invention that saved the backs of farmers and their livestock was the steam engine. Harnessing the power of steam advanced farming in many ways. Initially steam engines were used to power mills, threshing machines and the above-mentioned cotton gin. Later, portable steam engines were created, coupled with drive systems. This gave way to self-propelled steam tractors. 

Many years later, the gasoline-powered tractor replaced steam tractors and other steam- powered machinery. Steam-powered machinery required a heating source, such as coal or wood, as well as someone who knew how to produce just the right amount of steam to operate the machinery. Gasoline-powered tractors and other machinery took the guess work out of making your engine come to life.

Perhaps the farmer’s best friend was developed after we discovered the power of gasoline; it was the truck. By the beginning of the 20th century, the truck became the farmer’s best friend and in many ways is still his best friend. No longer did farmers need to rely on their wagon and livestock to haul things. 

Advancements in farming have never really stopped. The process of feeding our countries continues to evolve. However, in some ways advancement has taken us back to our roots. This would be the organic movement.

Other advancements in our society are more recognizable than those mentioned above. However, without these advancements in farming, we would have never survived long enough to create the Internet. 

 

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