A conversation overheard: Farmer Dad

One never knows where one may hear an interesting story. This morning, I overheard a conversation about a man’s farming father. Aside from the toils and troubles related to weather and crop uncertainties that affect farmers on a day-to-day basis, he brought up an interesting point that hadn’t really occurred to me before.

Back in the day, it would take his father many a day to work his farmland because the machinery was smaller and much less technologically advanced (or perhaps “connected” is the more accurate term). He explained that nowadays, the machinery was much bigger, working more of the land at once (ie. covering more area with less human effort), and the machinery was connected to GPS technology, meaning that the machine could run on its own (autosteering) or it could do things more efficiently (like control the quantity of pesticides or fertilizer being applied to land, or run the tractor in straighter lines than a human could by eye…with much less effort on the human’s part). Now, Farmer Dad can work his farmland maybe in the span of a day.

He also mentioned that back in the day, there needed to be so many small farms to get the same amount of work done as a few large farms nowadays because of the difference in technology.

Interesting point, I thought. It makes complete sense…just that I had forgotten the point that advances in, say, tractor technology are reasons why there may not need to be as many small farms as half a century ago. I don’t diminish the importance of small farms but rather acknowledge that technological advances have enabled a smaller number of farms to manage more land.

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