AMERICA BECOMES THE WORLD’S BREADBASKET
THE REVOLUTION OF AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGY
The revolution in agricultural technology between 1820 and 1870, created a demand for a larger and stronger horse to power the new equipment. In 1862, Congress passed the Morril Land Grant Act which led to the establishment of state agricultural colleges. The first of the nation’s veterinary colleges opened at Cornell University in 1868. As farmers became more educated, there was a corresponding improvement in the care, feeding and breeding of horses.
The new and improved farm equipment greatly increased the productivity of the American farmer. With the McCormick reaper, which both cut and tied grains into stocks, one man could do the work of thirty. New steel plows, double-width harrows and seed drills, mowers, binders, combines and thresher’s decreased the need for manpower, but increased the demand for horsepower. Toward the end of the century, the typical Midwestern wheat farm had ten horses, which each worked an average of 600 hours per year. During harvest, it was not unusual to see giant combines pulled by teams of over forty draft horses.
With the use of new equipment and fertilizers, wheat yields increased seven times between 1850 and 1900. Better rail and steamship transportation opened new markets in America’s growing cities and in Europe. America was coming of age as a world agricultural power.