Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1952 Page: 3
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AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING 3
practical, operating farmer find more tangible proof that research
pays off than in the substitution of mechanical power for human labor
and work animals. Since the early days of American history our
farmers have sought short cuts to overcome the weariness and drudgery
of waste motion. Ever since Thomas Jefferson applied the principles
of mathematical science to improve plow moldboards and thereby
upset the traditional plowing practice of many centuries, the farmers
of America have been interested in the development of mechanical
improvements in their tools of production. Thousands of middleaged
farmers today recall the thrill and toil of threshing time in the
early 1900's. The threshing machines and steam engines and horsedrawn
water tanks of those days were great improvements over the
methods used by their fathers when oxen treaded out the grain. Yet
threshing devices of 50 years ago were crude mechanical devices compared
with the modern combines that today have taken over the job.
Mechanization of Crop Production
Wider adaptation of farm machinery for specialized use has been
made along many lines. In 1952, there were 4,170,000 tractors on
American farms as compared with 1,545,000 in 1940 and 920,000 in
1930. During the past decade, the number of motortrucks on the farm
has more than doubled; the number of grain combines has increased
more than three times; and the number of mechanized corn pickers has
increased more than four times.
The greatest surge in the mechanization of fari production has
come within the past 20 years. During the early 1940's when agricultural
income rose to a more favorable level, farmers were better
able to make capital investments in modern equipment. This trend
toward the use of machinery in carrying on farming operations automatically
filled the gap caused by the draining of manpower into the
armed services and industry, thus enabling the farmer to produce
goods and services so urgently needed. It was accompanied by a
well-organized program of plant genetics and breeding to meet the
limitations of mechanization and the contingencies of crop failure as
a result of damage by inclement weather, insects, and diseases; the
discovery of new disease- and insect-controlling chemicals; the development
of improved fertilization practices; and the devising of better
ways of doing many farm tasks. So effective were these developments
that production of feed grains was raised from an average of
88,846,000 tons for 1935-39 to 117,630,000 tons for 1942-46. The total
production of eight grains increased from an average yearly production
of 114,148,000 tons in the prewar period to 150,969,000 tons during
the war period.
Today mechanization of numerous common field crops is well advanced.
The use of power implements in seedbed preparation, tillage,
and cultivation, and in harvesting the cereal grains, wheat, rice, rye,
and buckwheat, and the feed grains, corn, oats, barley, and sorghum,
as well as hay and other roughage crops is common practice. Although
complete mechanization of cotton production has not been so
rapid, advancements have been made which, significantly, combine
the result of plant genetics research and mechanization research.
The same is true for many vegetable crops. The growing of commer
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United States. Office of Experiment Stations. Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1952, book, January 1953; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5990/m1/5/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.