Farming Then and Now: Less Is More
It won't be long now, until we get to one of my absolute favorite times of the year.
We'll be driving, maybe down to Omaha to see the boy and his family or to Clarkson to see the girl and her family. Motoring along and looking out and there it is: Corn popping up through the dirt. Beans popping up through the dirt.
Ah, life is good.
It's been a good long time since I walked the gravel yard on our little farm growing up. But I still have that, ahem, seed in me from the farm days. We were doing good back then working the dirt. Real good.
But today my farm friends are doing a whole lot more with a whole lot less.
I was checking out one of my favorite websites, SD Corn, and they had a kind of comparison of farming today versus yesterday, a sort of 'then and now', if you will. And while I'm proud of what my folks and our neighbors did, it kind of pales in comparison to what my ag friends today are doing.
Let me give you an example or two...or three.
About twenty years ago or so U.S. farmers were feeding on average about 85 people each. Pretty impressive. But today that number has jumped to an incredible 155! Yep, corn production has grown by some 80% in those twenty short years. But the farm folks are doing more and doing it with less. What doIi mean? Well, land use has decreased 37%, soil loss decreased 69%, and emissions per bushel decreased 30%. So while the 'old folks' were doing pretty darn good, these guys and gals now are doing really darn good!
And back in 'yesteryear', 1931, (whoa! That's even way before my time) your Grandpa or Great Grandpa was pretty happy with about 25 bushels an acre. It was a good year. When i was a kid, if we got, oh, 80-100 bushels an acre, that was what we called a bumper crop. Today? Well, the average is around 164 bushels per acre, and contest winners push about 600 bushels.
So while I'm driving along the highway watching that corn reach higher and higher, I think warmly about the old 'A' John Deere and that old cultivator...and at the same time thank those folks out there working the dirt and doing it better than ever.