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What is the Greatest Farming Innovation of the past 75 years?

Started by Isabel Davies

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  • #1030995

     
    Isabel DaviesIsabel Davies
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    Farmers Weekly is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year so, to mark the occasion, were launching a major new series which will identify the major milestones affecting our industry over that period.

    It kicks off this week with our search, in association with EB Equipment, to identify The Greatest Farming Innovation

    There are many contenders. You might think its the three-point linkage or GM technology? Semi-dwarf wheat varieties or the mobile phone? A type of chemical or fertiliser or the internet, perhaps?

    Weve suggested a few – but these are only a few or our ideas. We want to hear what you think the great innovations have been the things that have revolutionised farming. The innovation class is the first of six categories in this series others will identify what have been The Greatest Farming Figure, Machine, Decade, View and Cock-up of the last three-quarters of a century.

    Get involved, and you could see your views published, plus win a free subscriptions to FW magazine. Well be drawing up a shortlist from all your suggestions and then giving you the chance to vote later in the year to pick overall winners in each of the categories.

    #1030996

     
    Brian Hindkansasfarmer
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    Don’t hold me to this because this is my first thoughts, I put it at a tie at this point between GM, the internet, and the cell phone.  100% of the corn and soybeans on my farm are Roundup ready, and about 80% of the corn is triple stacked.  Gone are the days of the weed disaster.  Also, no more messing around with costly and dangerous insecticide to control rootworms in the corn.  In the pre GM days we might plant with the near certainty we would lose the crop to weeds if conditions weren’t perfect come time to spray, and the weeds got over a couple of inches tall.  Now, it doesn’t matter if they are 2 feet tall, you can kill them.

    With the internet I can check the weather, radar, markets, news, get emails, access worldwide research, and interact with farmers all over the world at the touch of a button.  The information I can get in 15 minutes use to take hours or days to get.  Along that same line the cell phone has made everyone instantly reachable.  From emergencies covering a span of medical to fire to breakdowns, you are always in touch with the rest of the world, if the system stays up.  Local news that use to take several days to circulate around the community now moves in minutes.  Sometimes that is good, sometimes bad, but definitely a big change. 

  • #1030997

     
    Isabel DaviesIsabel Davies
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    You’ve got in quick – I’ve got some more info to put up which might change your mind! [:D]

     I’m glad you mentioned the cell phone – because that is the one that I am arguing for. But that has already vexed one of my colleagues who thinks this thing should be limited to farming innovations only – rather than innovations in general that have transformed farming. Obviously, we are right and he is wrong. he just hasn’t realised it yet!

    #1030998

     
    Isabel DaviesIsabel Davies
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    Here is some more info to get the juices flowing. We had a think at the FW offices and came up with these suggestions. But they are only our openers so we’d be keen to hear alternatives – or hear why you think one of these is the winner.

    The three-point linkage

    Of all the thousands of mechanisation developments during the last 75 years, the one that made the biggest impact on farming efficiency is the Ferguson System. The first commercial version of Harry Fergusons hydraulically operated three-point hitch arrived in 1936 and now, after 73 years and the addition of a few mainly electronic refinements, it remains the standard implement attachment and control system on almost all production tractors in the world.  – Michael Williams

    GM crops

    Dogged by controversy and entangled in red tape, genetic modification has promised much yet delivered little for the UK farmer to date. But proponents argue circumstances will soon conspire to see that the first splicing of DNA in 1973 was the single most important moment in agricultural history. If the vision is accurate of a drought-stricken, oil-deprived future, where labour costs and penalties for pollution are high, then GM will become the most important weapon in farmings arsenal – Tim Relf 

    The mobile phone

    Im not having any arguments the greatest innovation for farming in the past 75 years has been the mobile phone. OK, so there are days when carrying one seems a right pain. But if were honest, the availability and affordability of mobiles has revolutionised the way that UK farmers operate. Jobs are completed far more efficiently because people can be in the right place at the right time with the right equipment and there is an important safety dimension. – Isabel Davies

    Semi-dwarf wheat varieties

    Semi-dwarf wheat varieties transformed world wheat production.  Without the semi-dwarf genes, originally bred into a Japanese wheat, Norin 10, in 1935, the green revolution that enabled the world to feed itself post-World War II wouldnt have happened. An American wheat breeder, Orville Vogel, crossed Norin 10 with other wheat varieties to shorten wheat from 4ft tall to just 2ft. It allowed growers to use more fertiliser to increase yields without the crop becoming too top-heavy and falling over. Vogel shared his research with another breeder, Norman Borlaug in Mexico, who led the introduction of semi-dwarf wheats in that country and India and Pakistan. It led to a doubling of yields, greatly increasing food security. Borlaug is credited with saving a billion people from starvation – Mike Abram

    Gross Margins

    Prior to the introduction of gross margins by a few inspired **** advisers in the 1960s, farm costings were either detailed analyses that attempted to allocate every cost and return, or crude calculations on the back of a *** packet. Needless to say few of the former occurred and, while there were more *** packets around then than now, most farm production was based on faith and guaranteed prices. As those guarantees disappeared and profitability was no longer assured, gross margins enabled farmers with few accountancy skills to work out the likely viability of any enterprise they fancied. They were therefore the most important innovation of the last 75 years. – David Richardson

    AI/Robotic milking

    There are many who would say livestock farming and technological innovation arent happy bedfellows, but a glance back through the last 75 years highlights just what advances have been made in that time. After all, had you told the average farmer in 1934 that within his or her lifetime most dairy cows would never see a bull, but would be served by artificial insemination, theyd have thought you were slightly insane. But AI had a massive impact on UK dairy farming, allowing exceptional genetics to become available to every farmer. And many beef farmers are also benefiting from AI too.Perhaps as remarkable is robotic milking. In many 1930s herds, milking was still being undertaken by hand but by 2009 robotic milking, while not being commonplace, is a technology an increasing number of farmers are opting for and benefiting from its management advances. – Jonathan Long

     

    #1031000

     
    Brian Hindkansasfarmer
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    If you want to get more basic, electricity.  Our area wasn’t “electrified” until the late 1940s, my father tells how my grandmother stood at the light switch switching it on and off in amazement(think milking machines, refrigeration, electric fence, water pumps, grain auger motors, etc).   I reckon most of the UK got wired before most of rural Kansas, so that might not fall into the 75 year category.  Another basic is herbicide, leaving the GM out of it.  Just the ability to kill a weed and not the crop was pretty earth shattering.  Antibiotics as well, Grandpa told me how amazing it was to see an animal recover from pneumonia using penicillin.  I guess your vaccines would go along with this.  How about cabs on tractors(with AC and heat)?  You think it is rough in the UK, try sweating it out on a hot Kansas summer day at about 105F or better, or feeding cattle at -10 F on a winter morning without a cab.  I think it is going to be really hard to pin point one innovation, there have been so many.

    #1031001

     
    Isabel DaviesIsabel Davies
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    Electricity isn’t one that had come up in our discussions – but a great one. I love the way the question prompts different responses in different people.

    #1031002

     
    sjksjk
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     I would have said the loader as before that everything from cleaning out the sheds to carrying the bales etc had to be done by hand.

    Though I did also think 3 point linkage and rubber tyres.

    #1031003

     
    avalon
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    What about the castration ring, used for everything, I even sold them to my mates at primary school, Isabel, behave, (tires for their toy cars).

    #1031004

     
    Isabel DaviesIsabel Davies
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    The innocence of youth!

    #1031005

     
    He his-selfHe his-self
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    Some would say the Land Rover, Quad bike or maybe the Toyota Hi Lux. Swarfega hand cleaner, automatic washing machine (got to get a clean boilersuit somehow) and the internet?

    #1031006

     
    Isabel DaviesIsabel Davies
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    Can’t stand the smell of Swarfega. So won’t get my vote on that grounds alone! [:D] T’internet is a strong contender though.

    #1031007

     
    bestybesty
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    The farmers wife !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    #1031008

     
    ploughmangeorge
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    i agree with sjk its got to be the loadall (Teleyhandler)as we call it

    #1031010

     
    holstein kid
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    Ear ***** when you old man is telling you off !

    #1031011

     
    bubble6470bubble6470
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    Most definatly the Greatest Innovation in Agriculture is The Ferguson System simply because of the significant difference it has made to agriculture, and the genius of Harry Ferguson who developed it from scratch, nothing to base it on or adapt, he had a vision of how agriculture had to evolve to make it more efficient and profitable.

    The Greatest Farming Figure is no surprise… Harry Ferguson

     

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