One hundred years ago, many farmers were still using steam-driven tractors or draft animals to pull tillage plows. However, there were many economic advantages to making the switch to gasoline tractors for tillage work.
For example, horses were expensive to purchase and maintain. Not to mention, a farmer would need about five acres of land for the oats, hay, and fodder that each horse needed. Tractors also didn’t require a doctor to treat an illness or injury. Now, land that was being used to support horses could instead be used for cash cropping to help pay off the tractor loan. Tractors could be worked on day or night, with little daily maintenance, and were not affected by weather or pests. Compared to steam engines, gasoline engines started up a lot faster than those that had to be heated up with a boiler.
It used to take a farmer an hour and a half to till an acre of land with five horses and a plow. Today, the average farmer can plow five acres an hour depending on the equipment. In the 1920s and 1930s, a farmer produced enough food to feed a total of four people. Fast forward to today, a single farmer can feed 166 people from just his farm!
Today’s tractors now have different ranges of horsepower for any kind of work, and offer technology to keep farming operations connected. New innovations such as quiet cabs and digital displays offer farmers comfort and connectivity, but also safety. With more accuracy and precision, working hours have greatly decreased and fuel costs have been reduced which helps increase profit margins.
With more efficient tractors, farmers are spending less money on seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, while improving yields. Today’s farmers can do so much more even with fewer resources which is a great testament to our advances in machinery and technology over the last 100 years.