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A Century of Ag Technology in Canada

August 14, 2018

Innovation in agricultural technology is a part of the farming tradition. These days, new technology is announced nearly every week, and it can be easy to lose track of how far we’ve come over the course of a single lifetime. From the introduction of gas tractors to the rise of mobile devices, farms in Canada have changed drastically in both appearance and output. Join us in looking back at how agricultural technology has evolved over the past century.

100 years ago – While the gas-powered tractor was first developed in the late 1800s, it didn’t catch on as a common piece of farming equipment until the late 1910s. Initially, farmers were skeptical that the machines – a stark contrast to the horse-drawn plows of the time – could make a difference in productivity of their operations By the mid-1920s, tractor prices dropped as the demand soared, and before long the tractor had become the gold standard.

80 years ago – In the 1930s, one farmer could produce enough food to feed 9.8 people. It required approximately 15-20 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels (2 1/2 acres) of corn with a 2-bottom gang plow, 7-foot tandem disk, 4-section harrow, 2-row planters, cultivators, and pickers.

60 years ago – By the time the 1950s came around, the number of tractors on farms exceeded the number of horses and mules for the first time. During the same decade, the discovery of anhydrous ammonia as a cheap nitrogen source revolutionized crop output. The usage of anhydrous ammonia resulted in significantly higher average crop yields than ever before, contributing to the unprecedented prosperity of the decade.

40 years ago – In the 1970s, no-tillage agriculture began to gain popularity as an alternative to conventional tillage. Since the 1930s, a period of just 40 years, a farmer’s average output had more than quintupled. It only took about 3-3/4 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels (3 acres) of wheat and 3-1/3 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels (1-1/8 acres) of corn. Most farms accomplished this using a gas-powered tractor, 5-bottom plow, 20-foot tandem disk, planter, 20-foot herbicide applicator, 12- to 22-foot self-propelled combine, and one or several pickup trucks.

20 years ago – The efficiency of farming continued through the 1980s, but by the mid-1990s, farming was forever changed again with the introduction of weed- and insect-resistant biotech crops. At the same time, massive developments were occurring rapidly in information technology, and precision agriculture techniques – like variable-rate seeding and spraying – began to gain momentum.

10 years ago – The new millennium set in motion an age of technology and few moments defined the era more than the introduction of the smartphone. For the first time, mobile devices allowed farmers to access information on the go and communicate more freely with fellow farmers, retailers and agronomists. Knowledge that was once passed on through generations of farmers could suddenly be freely exchanged online and accessed from the field. Despite the ease of information transmission, the average farm continued to maintain paper farm data records. Often kept in filing cabinets, these records would regularly require hours of interpretation in order to be useful for the daily operations of the farm.

2015 to Now – The Climate Corporation first released its FieldViewTM platform in the United States in 2015, expanding into Canada in 2017. After 100 years of development, research and innovation in agricultural technology, the FieldView application has effectively brought all the tools in the farmer’s belt together into a single powerful platform. Within a single mobile application, farmers can harmonize the productivity of their equipment, the usage of their inputs and the volume of their yields – all in one place. With reliable, live data at their fingertips, farmers can now make better and more agile decisions than ever.

With Climate’s FieldView platform, there’s no limit to your farm’s full potential. We hope that your first year using Climate FieldView helps you make even more amazing discoveries on your farm. Good luck this growing season, and make sure to let us know on Twitter how the platform is working for you!

Sources:
https://www.agclassroom.org/gan/timeline/farm_tech.htm
https://monsanto.com/innovations/data-science/articles/technology-in-agriculture/
https://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/sag1951