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Agriculture and the and the Science behind it - Wheat crop expansion

In previous posts we discussed the top Ten Agriculture Machines and their importance; many other inventions came along as well, such as "mechanical planters, cutters, huskers and shellers .... as did cream separators, manure spreaders, potato planters, hay driers, poultry incubators and a hundred other inventions".1

The importance of Science behind the Ag industry seems to have taken a back seat to the aesthic appearance and grandeur of so many many wonderful machines. The Ag industry would not have made the gains it made in the 19th Century if it was not for the "1862 the Morrill Land Grant College Act [which] allotted public land to each state for the establishment of agricultural and industrial colleges. These were to serve both as educational institutions and as centers for research in scientific farming. Congress subsequently appropriated funds for the creation of agricultural experiment stations throughout the country and also granted funds directly to the Department of Agriculture for research purposes. By the beginning of the new century, scientists throughout the United States were at work on a wide variety of agricultural projects. Ironically, the federal policy that enabled farmers to increase yields ultimately generated vast supplies which drove market prices down -- and disheartened farmers."1

In the late 1800's a Scientist by the name of Mark Carleton who worked for the USDA set our to find a high yield wheat crop that was drought resistant as well as rust resistant. In his research Carelton had come to realize that the Mennonite Farming Community's crops had fared much

better than the average American Farmers crops. It was then that Carleton decided to travel to Russia and Europe where he found three types of wheat that he brought back to the U.S.; much to the chagrin for American farmers and millers. These new crops however proved more successful than traditional American crops.

By 1901 Carleton had become the Cerealist that was in charge of all grain invention's at the Bureau of Plant Industry. With this new

position Carleton had greater freedom to travel and test the new types of wheat.

"A number of such varieties were secured and planted at Manhattan, Fort Hays and McPherson. Twenty-six of these varieties of Russian wheat were planted at Manhattan in the fall of 1908."

Many of these gave excellent results in just the first traials. "The yields in 1909 of several of the best producing varieties are as follows : Banatka, 55.26 ; Champanka, 53.06; White Awnless, 52.27; Ozucka, 51.14; Russian No. 1208, 50.97; Byelokolasska, 50.67; Egyptian, 50.26, bushels per acre, respectively."3

"1908 Carleton became the founding president of the American Society of Agronomy. Unfortunately, despite Carleton’s success at finding a studier wheat crop, personal tragedy and conflicting interests forced his career to an early end in 1918. In 1920 Carleton traveled to Panama and Honduras to study diseases in bananas for the American Fruit Company, and on April 25, 1925, Carleton died in Peru from heart complications caused by malaria".2

Many other Scientists framed the Ag community as we know it today so stay tuned for the next article.2




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