Biographical info: Age? Gender? Education? Career? Relation to you?
How have the physical demands of agriculture changed during your life?
Do you miss any of the physical work of the past?
What types of physically demanding work do you miss the least?
Did you get paid for agricultural labor as a child? If not, what motivated you to
Do you view the reductions in physical labor in agriculture during your lifetime
as all positive? Do you think there are any negative trade-offs?
Do you think participation in agricultural labor has impacted your health or
character? Please explain.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about physical labor in ag?
Physical labor interview Qs
43 sets of Physical Labor interview responses have been submitted
Allison H Responded on:2013-09-03
Andrew F Responded on:2013-09-04
Andrew H Responded on:2013-09-02
Andrew W Responded on:2013-09-03
Cheyenne S Responded on:2013-08-31
Chris C Responded on:2013-09-02
Clinton E Responded on:2013-09-02
Cody L Responded on:2013-09-03
Craig W Responded on:2013-09-04
Cristopher T Responded on:2013-09-03
Devan B Responded on:2013-09-04
Dillon P Responded on:2013-09-04
Elijah H Responded on:2013-09-03
Eric L Responded on:2013-09-02
Ethan B Responded on:2013-09-01
Evan P Responded on:2013-09-03
Gloria L Responded on:2013-09-04
Jacob P Responded on:2013-09-03
Jeffrey M Responded on:2013-09-04
Jessica M Responded on:2013-09-04
John C Responded on:2013-09-04
John H Responded on:2013-09-03
Joseph C Responded on:2013-09-04
Joseph M Responded on:2013-09-03
Joshua B Responded on:2013-09-03
Justin F Responded on:2013-09-03
Karisa J Responded on:2013-09-02
Kelly A Responded on:2013-08-29
Kelly J Responded on:2013-09-03
Kelsey H Responded on:2013-08-30
Kyle W Responded on:2013-09-03
Molly M Responded on:2013-09-04
Morgan W Responded on:2013-09-04
Olivia F Responded on:2013-09-04
Roger T Responded on:2013-09-03
Samantha S Responded on:2013-08-29
Sarah G Responded on:2013-09-03
Sean M Responded on:2013-09-03
Sean M Responded on:2013-09-03
Steven R Responded on:2013-09-01
Taylor J Responded on:2013-09-03
Tyler Z Responded on:2013-09-04
Zane H Responded on:2013-09-01
TALK to me if you have NOT submitted!!!
Questions for Mechanization of ag interview (Due before start of class on 9/11)
Biographical info: age, years farming, scale of main enterprises, HP of largest tractor
What development(s) in farm equipment during your career have had the biggest
impact on your life? Please explain.
How do you weigh in on the value of new equipment? How valuable is it to regularly trade-up
vs. run older well maintained equipment?
How much of the repair and servicing of your equipment do you do yourself? How has this
changed over time?
What are the main ways that you learn about new developments in farm equipment?
How many gallons of diesel fuel are required to produce an acre of corn on your farm? How
has this changed during your career?
Do you think equipment will just keep getting larger or do you expect smaller fully or mostly
automated equipment will become important?
Is there anything else that you would like to share about the mechanization of agriculture?
Agriculture prior to the
• Wooden plows, all
sowing by hand,
cultivation by hoe
(but mostly no weed control)
• Hay and grain cutting
with a sickle, and
threshing with a flail
The Sower by Vincent Van Gogh
An Allegory of Summer
by Abel Grimmer, early 1600s
A recent threshing party in Mongolia
European farming practices in the
1600s were not that different from
the practices used in ancient Egypt
thousands of years earlier
Jethro Tull, 1731
Jethro Tull, a British agricultural pioneer (1674-1741)
invented the grain drill and other complementary row crop
implements that resulted in large increases in
agricultural output and productivity.
is the relationship between
agricultural inputs and outputs,
a measure of the efficiency of
What is productivity?
Yield ≠ Productivity
Primary Methods for Productivity Enhancement
• 1790s Scythe and cradle
• 1793 Eli Whitney invented the
cotton gin and championed
• 1794 Thomas Jefferson
designed an improved grain
drill and moldboard plow
• 1797 Charles Newbold
patented first cast-iron plow
Scythe w/ cradle
What does a cotton gin do?
What is the purpose of the cradle?
A 15-man haying crew in Pennsylvania ready to start work in the fields (~ 1900).
The cotton gin made large-scale production
of cotton possible in the US South
10,500 bales produced in 1793 4.5 million produced in 1861
major expansion of slavery in southern US
cheap cotton industrialization of textile production
• 1834 first McCormick
• 1847 McCormick moved
to Chicago and began
-- > International Harvester Later model reaper
What does a reaper do?
Why is Cyrus McCormick often called the
Father of Modern Agriculture?
McCormick’s reaper triggered a major
expansion of commercial agriculture in
Farmers needed cash to purchase
factory-made reapers and other
agricultural machinery and thus had to
increase their sale of farm products.
subsistence farming → commercial farming
• 1837 John Deere
invented the self-
scouring steel plow
greatly accelerating the
breaking of prairie
What is meant by “self-scouring”?
After a strained 5 yr partnership that ended in 1848, Deere
moved to Moline, IL, because the city was a transportation
hub on the Mississippi River. In 1855, Deere's new factory
manufactured more than 10,000 plows.
In 1838, John Deere sold his first steel plow to a local farmer
who quickly spread word of his success with the plow. By
1841, Deere was manufacturing 75-100 plows per year.
The first practical threshing machine
was also invented in 1837
Feeding bundles into the
Why did many farm wives not
enjoy threshing time?
- too many mouths to feed
- too many unsavory characters on their farms
• 1865-75 Gang plows and
sulky plows came into
common use along with
spring-tooth harrows for
seed bed preparation.
• 1868 Steam tractors first
taken to the field.
• 1870s Silos came into use.
• 1870s Deep-well drilling first
• 1874 Glidden barbed wire
Barbed wire allowed fencing
of rangeland, ending the era
of unrestricted open-range
First upright silo built in 1873
Hatch farm, McHenry Cty, IL
Acclaimed director George
Stevens' legendary tale of the
end of the open range earned
six Academy Award
nominations and was my
dad’s favorite film.
The story brings Shane, a
drifter and retired gunfighter,
to the assistance of a
homestead family terrorized
by a wealthy cattleman and
his hired guns.
Have any of you seen
this classic film?
• 1880 William Deering
sold 3,000 twine
• Late 1880s
first used on wheat
farms in the PNW.
The Bonanza farms of the Red River Valley were very large-
scale wheat farms that developed as a result of a monetary
panic in 1873. As shares of the Northern Pacific Railway
plummeted, investors were given the option of trading their
bonds for railroad owned land in the Dakota Territory.
Hundreds of investors traded their railroad bonds for hundreds
of thousands of acres of virgin prairie in the northern part of
Dakota and hired professional managers to run their farming
operations. Techniques recently introduced in American
factories were applied to these farms in an attempt to make
each farm extremely efficient through the use of large-scale
machinery and cheap migrant labor.
After ~ 20 years of profitable bonanza farming, low wheat
prices, degraded soils and high land prices drove the investors
to sell off the Bonanza farms.
Farm boys from IL and other parts of the Midwest, who spent time
working on Bonanza farms, returned home to their families’
small diversified homesteads and began building larger farms
with mechanization, hired labor and borrowed capital.
1902 First U.S. factory for tractors with internal
Charles Hart and Charles Parr established the first U.S.
factory devoted to manufacturing a traction engine powered
by an internal combustion engine. Smaller and lighter than
its steam-driven predecessors, it ran all day on one tank of
fuel. Hart and Parr are credited with coining the term
"tractor" for the traction engine.
1904 First crawler tractor with tracks rather
Benjamin Holt, a California manufacturer of agricultural
equipment, developed the first successful crawler tractor,
equipped with a pair of tracks rather than wheels. Dubbed
the "caterpillar" tread, the tracks helped keep heavy tractors
from sinking in soft soil and were the inspiration for the first
military tanks. The 1904 version was powered by steam; a
gasoline engine was incorporated in 1906. The Caterpillar
Tractor Company was formed in 1925, in a merger of the
Holt Manufacturing Company and its rival, the C. L. Best Gas
Henry Ford & Son
Corporation—a spinoff of
the Ford Motor Company—
began production of the
Fordson tractor. Originally
called the "automobile
plow" and designed to
work 10- to 12-acre fields,
it cost as little as $395 and
soon accounted for ~ 75%
of US and 50% of global
1917 Tractors become affordable
In 1918, Deere and Company bought Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company. This
company had already established its own tractor model called the Waterloo Boy.
Suddenly Deere and Company was in the tractor race. Deere’s first tractor, the Dain
All-Wheel-Drive had 4 cylinders and 3 wheels - 2 in front and 1 in the rear. Only 100
were ever produced because it was too expensive - $1500!!
Gear-driven water pump
Shiftless speed changing
24 belt HP
State of the art
Only 1 exists today!
1921 First major aerial dusting of crops
U.S. Army pilots and Ohio entomologists
conducted the first major aerial dusting of crops,
spraying arsenate of lead over 6 acres of catalpa
trees in Troy to control the sphinx caterpillar.
1922 International Harvester introduces the PTO
International Harvester introduces the PTO, a device that
allowed rotary power from the tractor’s engine to be
transmitted to attached harvesting equipment. This innovation
was part of the company’s signature Farmall tractor in 1924.
The Farmall featured a tricycle design with a high-clearance
rear axle and closely spaced front wheels.
1931 Caterpillar manufactures a crawler
tractor with a diesel engine
Caterpillar manufactured a crawler tractor with a diesel
engine, which offered more power, reliability, and fuel
efficiency than those using low-octane gasoline. Four
years later International Harvester introduced a diesel
engine for wheeled tractors.
1932 - First tractor with rubber wheels
An Allis-Chalmers Model U tractor belonging to Albert
Schroeder of Waukesha, Wisconsin, was outfitted with a pair
of Firestone 48X12 airplane tires in place of lugged steel
wheels. Tests by the University of Nebraska Tractor Test
Laboratory found that rubber wheels resulted in a 25 percent
improvement in fuel economy. Rubber wheels also allowed
smoother, faster driving with less wear and tear on tractor
parts and the driver.
Market Share of Leading Wheel Tractor
Manufacturers by Decade
1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950-55 Overall
John Deere 4.0% 6.4% 21.7% 17.0% 14.5% 14.5%
International Harvester 21.4% 28.6% 44.3% 32.7% 30.6% 32.5%
Ford 20.1% 44.2% 0.0% 7.9% 19.3% 16.7%
Massey-Ferguson 2.9% 1.9% 2.9% 14.7% 10.8% 9.1%
Case 7.2% 3.6% 7.4% 7.6% 5.1% 6.2%
Allis Chalmers 6.2% 3.5% 12.6% 9.7% 10.3% 9.1%
Oliver 2.1% 2.2% 5.0% 4.8% 5.4% 4.4%
Minneapolis Moline 8.0% 0.7% 2.9% 3.2% 3.6% 3.1%
All Others 28.0% 9.0% 3.2% 2.5% 0.2% 4.4%
Who is on top today?
Tractor production at IH's Farmall Works in Rock Island, IL ceased in May
1985. Production of the new Case IH tractors moved to the J.I. Case Tractor
Works in Racine, Wisconsin. Production of IH Axial-Flow combines
continued at the combine factory in East Moline, IL.
The combination of a 6 month strike starting in Nov 79, a sluggish economy and
internal corporate problems placed IH in a hole that left little way out. Things
only got worse until 1984, when the bitter end came. International Harvester,
following long negotiations, agreed to sell its agricultural products division to
Tenneco, Inc. on November 26, 1984. Tenneco had a subsidiary, J.I. Case, that
manufactured tractors, but lacked the full line of farm implements that IH
produced (combines, cotton pickers, tillage equipment…)
So…what happened to IH?
1932 First pickup baler manufactured
The Ann Arbor Machine Company of Shelbyville, IIlinois,
manufactured the first pickup baler, based on a 1929 design by
Raymond McDonald. Six years later. Edwin Nolt developed and
marketed a self-tying pickup baler. The baler, attached to a
tractor, picked up cut hay in the field, shaped it into a 16-18-inch
bale, and knotted the twine that held the bale secure.
1933 3 point hitch developed
A few years later, Ferguson’s company merged with
Canadian company Massey-Harris to form Massey-Ferguson.
The David Brown Company in
England was the first to build
tractors with a 3 pt hitch, but
Ferguson also demonstrated
the system to Henry Ford in the
United States. With a
handshake agreement, Ford
tractor and implements from
1939 to 1948.
Irish mechanic Harry Ferguson developed an innovative
hydraulic draft control system - the 3 point hitch which raised
and lowered attached implements and set their depth.
1935 Rural Electrification Administration begins
bringing electricity to farms
President Roosevelt issued an executive order to create the
Rural Electrification Administration (REA), which formed
cooperatives that brought electricity to millions of rural Americans.
Within 6 years, the REA had aided the formation of 800 rural
electric cooperatives with 350,000 miles of power lines.
Electricity on the farm brought about dramatic change in the barn
(motors to run ventilation fans, pumps, conveyors, arc welders,
shop tools, lighting) and in the home (lights, radios, fans,
refrigerators, washing machines)
Rural and urban standards of living moved closer.
1938 First self-propelled combine
The Massey-Harris MH-20 was one of the most significant
developments in harvesting history. The MH-20 introduced
the term “Combine harvester” and was the first serious
rival to tractor or horse drawn harvesting. There had been
earlier attempts to develop self-propelled harvesters but
none were commercial successes.
Over 900 MH-20s were
sold during its first 2
years on the market but
the smaller MH-21
introduced in 1941 was
much more popular.
Annual sales peaked at
>10,000 in 1949.
1943 First commercially viable mechanical
spindle cotton picker
International Harvester built
"Old Red," the first commercially
viable mechanical spindle cotton
picker, invented and tested by
Texans John and Mack Rust
beginning in 1927.
The spindle picker featured
moistened rotating spindles that
grabbed cotton fibers from open
bolls while leaving the plant
intact. The cotton fibers are then
blown into waiting hoppers, free
Have any of you read this book?
Denver worked as a share cropper
picking cotton by hand into the 1960s
of the global
cotton crop is
still picked by
Hand picked cotton
is normally picked
quality of the
1948 Center pivot irrigation invented
Colorado farmer Frank Zybach invented the center
pivot irrigation machine, which revolutionized
irrigation technology. The system consists of
sprinklers attached to arms that radiate from a water-
filled hub out to motorized wheeled towers in the
field. Zybach was awarded a patent in 1952 for the
"Self-Propelled Sprinkling Irrigating Apparatus."
# of acres irrigated in US quadrupled
Peak tractor sales in the US (~ 800,000) occurred in 1951
Tractor HP exceeded horse/mule power in ~ 1930
John Deere and
Harvester were the
first companies to
for their combines.
1954 Corn head attachments for combines
Corn heads allowed farmers to use just one combine to
harvest small grain crops in the summer and corn and
soybeans in the fall but required new handling and
storage systems for shelled corn.
How many of you have ever seen a corn crib?
How many of you have ever seen a
corn crib full of ear corn?
When I was growing up in Maryland most
farms in our area still picked ear corn.
Carl Seiler of Knox County, IL – National champion corn husker in 1932
Frank Hennenfent of Roseville, IL shortly after
winning the open class at Nationals in ‘08
1956 Gyral air seeder patented
The Gyral air seeder, which planted seeds
through a pneumatic delivery system, was
patented in Australia. The technology eventually
evolved into large multi-row machines with a
trailing seed tank and often a second tank
1966 Electronic planter monitors
The DICKEY-JOHN Manufacturing Company introduced
electronic monitoring devices that allowed farmers to quickly
identify problems during planting. Attached to mechanical
planters and air seeders, the devices monitored the number
and spacing of seeds being planted.
During the 1990s, next generation devices were introduced
for yield mapping i.e., measuring and displaying the quality
and quantity of grain entering a combine.
Versatile was the first
company to mass-
tractors, starting in
1966 with the D100 and
In 1966, George McKibben established no-till
plots at the U of IL Experiment Station in Dixon
Springs, IL. The plots are now named after
George McKibben. According to Don Holt,
former head of the University of Illinois
agronomy department, "These plots represent
a historic resource," and McKibben's research
on no-till was "probably the greatest single
contribution to control soil erosion“.
McKibben's no-till plots are the oldest
in Illinois and also globally.
Many conservation tillage tools were
developed in the 70s and 80s
1995 Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
The U.S. Department of Defense began constructing a
network of satellites for positioning purposes in the 1970s.
Civilian use began in the 1980s. In 1995, GPS reached full
operational capability and farmers began using GPS
receivers to geo-reference soil sampling, crop scouting,
crop yield data…
In 1999, the first GPS
commercially available in
Planting with Auto steer at the
WIU/ Allison Organic research farm
Swath/row control using RTK Guidance
Automatic Milking Systems (AMS), also referred to as robotic milkers, were developed
in Europe and became available there in 1992. The technology was introduced to the
US in 2000 and the first robotic milker was installed on a Michigan farm in 2009.
In 2012, there were 10 dairy farms in Michigan using robotic milking technology.
With current designs, robotic milking
is most appealing to small and
medium-sized dairies. Farms with
hundreds of cows need to purchase
multiple robots, which is currently less
economical than hiring people to milk.
10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Robotic Milking of Dairy Cows
• How many cows will I have to cull because robots cannot milk
• How long does it take cows to learn to use a robotic milking system
and what is involved in training?
• How will I know there is a problem with a cow, such as clinical
mastitis? And can the system separate unmarketable milk?
• But isn't this way more expensive than other milking systems?
• Do I need to build a new barn to use robotic milking?
• Does Robotic Milking require special feeding? Will it work with
• Are there issues unique to North America?
• Are there special regulations for robotic milking?
• How good is milk quality from these herds?
• How will I spend my time, if there is no milking to do?
Jack Rodenburg - Dairy Cattle Production Systems Program Lead/OMAFRA
There is increasing awareness and development of agricultural robots around the
world. In these pages I will try to bring together the links to projects that I am aware
of. If you know of any links not included here, please let me know!
Reductions in labor required to produce crops during the 20th century
U of Illinois estimates
How much fuel is required to perform field operations?
For 12 Long Years, ever since the EPA included off-highway diesel engines
on its hit list of polluters, engine makers have been scrambling, reviewing,
analyzing, redesigning and refining the science of compression ignition to
come up with the world's first smokeless tractor.
And let's just say, they've come a long way, baby. Those black puffs of
smoke that once characterized tractor exhaust have been reduced to a few
particles on a pinhead, thanks to technologies that better control the burning
But one more overhaul is required to get the regulated emissions down to
zero. EPA's final regulations for non-road diesel engines, known as Tier 4,
are at hand, and engineers say it's the toughest round yet.
The Tier 3 regulations reduced by 60% the emissions of the unregulated
engines produced just 12 years ago. Tier 4 requires a 90% reduction
in the levels of PM and NOx set by those Tier 3 standards.
“I always think of the white hankie test for carbon,” says Roger Gault,
technical director of the Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA).
“When you place a hankie over the exhaust, it will remain white if the
engine is compliant. Tier 4 engines will be that clean.”
Large engines rated over 174 hp will have the toughest time meeting the
requirements. Tractor engines this size will require not only advanced
engine technologies but also after-treatment of the exhaust gas.
Because this poses new problems — like how to fit all the new
components and plumbing under the narrow nose of a tractor — the
EPA has staggered the deadlines for this size category. The interim
deadline, which applies mostly to PM, comes up in 2011. The final
deadline, which includes the tougher limits on NOx, is set for 2014. All
farm vehicles with engine power ratings of 174 hp and above and
manufactured beginning on those dates must comply.
Stats are available for
every tractor marketed in
the US since 1920
"It was not as easy as just taking a harvester and putting it out in their existing
field with the existing varieties. They had to change what they were growing,
their irrigation, fertilization—all sorts of things“
“We'd harvest in the daytime, and then we'd work all night putting it back together”
Nearly all of California's tomato crop was converted to machine harvest within ~ 5 yrs.
Failure of the Land Grant College Complex
Who benefited from public investment in
mechanized tomato harvesting?
largest ships carry
On any 1 day, > 20 million
containers are traveling at sea
Chinese goods, like Nike shoes, iPods and
Barbies are transported to the U.S. in
20&40-foot steel containers. Once
emptied, the containers pile up at major
transport hubs like Chicago. Grain
merchants have jumped on this opportunity
to back ship grain to China.