Farmers have always been remarkable in inventing big and small things out of necessity — and they came up with astonishing new things. Especially in this time of change, family farming can use all the help consumers, industry and government can give it.
When Horace Greeley observed and reported on the first steam engine at work on a farm in 1849, he wrote: “The time must be at hand when every thrifty farmer will have such an engine of his own, and chopping straw, turning grindstone, cutting wood, churning, threshing and other toil will cease to be a manual and become a mechanical operation.”
Horace could not have anticipated factory farming nor climate change in those early days of the industrial revolution….
“Factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to the most serious environmental problems. The meat industry causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, planes and ships in the world. Joan Jett
More than a century ago, emerging industries came to the aid of the small farm: Blacksmith John Deere started helping farmers in 1837 when he made a plow of polished steel; he made 10 plows in 1839, 75 in 1841, and 100 in 1842.
Henry Ford started experimenting with gasoline-powered tractors in 1907; It was called an “automobile plow”; the first ‘real’ tractor, a Fordson, came in 1917. Another tractor appeared on the market one year later, built by John Deer; and to this day, “Nothing runs like a Deere”.
In 1948 the Massey Harris Pony tractor replaced many a horse on small farms. The ‘Pony’ lives on as restored keepsakes in museums and at parades, and in the garages of collectors. It so happened that during the same year, Allis Chalmers started production of model ‘G’ tractors, as seen in the center picture, making about 30,000 in the next seven years.
BTW, Allis Chalmers also experimented with fuel cells, made the first fuel cell vehicle (FCV) –a farm tractor– in 1959 and plowed a field with it. —[Fuel cell articles coming soon]
Kubota and Mahindra are today’s favorites for a large garden or a small hobby farm; they all run on “organic fossil fuel” and “assist” to increase greenhouse gases (GHG). Since we know how that affects climate change, and we also know to minimize that, more and different types of electric vehicles are appearing everywhere. A new kind of ‘farmers helper’ is the Kulan. The electric donkey has been developed by a research establishment, waiting for a manufacturer to produce it.
This cooperation between institutes of higher learning & research, and production firms is becoming more widespread, as industry is searching for ways to be more efficient. One industry stalwart, New Holland, introduced the world’s first ‘farm-ready’ fuel cell tractor in 2011. That tractor is receiving further development alongside other apparatuses and methods on this research farm.
Farming, no matter how large or small, is becoming more complex, depending not only on the weather but also on technology.
“Clean, tasty, real foods do not come processed in boxes or bags; they come from the earth, the sea, the field, or the farm. Suzanne Somers