Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1952 Page: 4
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4 REPORT ON EXPERIMENT STATIONS, 1952
cial tree fruits-peaches, cherries, and other deciduous fruit and citrus
crops-still requires a greater percentage of hand labor than does the
growing of the more common farm crops, but even in this farming
activity progress has been made, especially in the development of
equipment for the effective. application of spray materials and fertilizers.
It is in the realm of the many problems still unsolved that research
engineers of the agricultural experiment stations are today most busily
engaged. They know that achievement of complete mechanization of
agriculture is not only a popular goal of operating farmers but that
it is economically sound particularly in view of the rapidly increasing
nonfarming population. Since agricultural engineers work closely
with farmers, they are aware of farmers' needs for new mechanical
devices. They hear about the shortcomings of machinery already in
use. From close contact with crop specialists at the stations and with
engineers in industry who are responsible for designing farm equipment,
station agricultural engineers are called upon to determine basic
considerations to be kept in mind by farm equipment manufacturers.
Each step taken by experiment station engineers must be based on
scientific procedure, just as painstaking and accurate as that followed
in chemical or biological research.
Farmers are aware that the mechanization of farm work means a
saving in farm labor and that the right kind of mechanized equipment
can at times mean the difference between profit or loss in a crop.
But in making the capital investment in machinery the farmer has to
weigh what he might save over the years in time and labor against
the cost of interest, depreciation, and repair; he has to know how
many hours of work he will get out of a given machine. In the United
States tractors are used an average of only 592 hours annually per
farm. For other equipment the average is even lower. There has
been a heavy increase in recent years of the custom work with specialized
farm machinery hired by farmers. These facts stimulate the
imagination and effort of the agricultural engineers at the experiment
stations and of the engineers in industry in developing low-cost equipment
for practical use on the family-sized farm.
The degree of farm mechanization in the United States today cannot
be measured by merely counting the number of tractors and other
machines used on these farms. The true test of the impact of mechanization
on farm operations in this country is the effectiveness with
which machinery is used and the economy of power obtained in its
operation. The greatest concern of agricultural engineering research,
therefore, is to find new ways of utilizing farm power effectively and
As a result of the investigations in the field of agricultural engineering
research carried on from time to time in the State agricultural
experiment stations, back-breaking labor on farms is rapidly passing
and is being replaced by mechanical devices and procedures that not
only save time and labor but also improve the quality and increase the
yields of food and fiber products.
Examples of some of the findings made in agricultural engineering
research in the various stations and of their application to farm operations
are here described.
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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/m1/6/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.