Class 9 History

New Technology for Farmers in USA

Many new machines were invented to enable the farmers in the USA to increase farm production.

When the farmers entered the mid-western prairie, the simple ploughs proved ineffective. The prairie was covered with a thick mat of grass with tough roots. A variety of new ploughs were devised by the farmers to break the sod and turn the soil over. Some of the newly-designed ploughs were 12 feet long. Their front rested on small wheels and they were pulled by six yokes of horses or oxens.

Power Driven Machinery

By the early twentieth century, tractors and disc ploughs came in use for breaking the soil. Use of tractors helped in clearing vast stretches of land. Cyrus McCormick invented the first mechanical reaper in 1831. The mechanical reaper could cut in one day as much as five men could cut with cradles and 10 men with sickles. Combined harvester was being used by most of the farmers by the early twentieth century. A combined harvester could harvest 500 acres of wheat in two weeks.

With power-driven machinery, four men could plough, seed and harvest 2,000 to 4,000 acres of wheat in a season. For the big farmers of the Great Plains, these machines were attractive option.

What Happened to the Poor?

Many poor farmers bought these machines, even by borrowing from the banks. But most of them found difficulty in repaying the loan. Many of them deserted their farms and looked for jobs elsewhere. But mechanization had reduced the need for labour and jobs were difficult to find. The boom of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century came to an end by the mid 1920s.

Great Agrarian Depression

There was problem of unsold stocks and overflowing granaries. Vast amounts of corn and wheat were turned into animal feed. Wheat prices fell and export markets collapsed. This made the ground for the Great Agrarian Depression of the 1930s. The Great Depression ruined the wheat farmers everywhere.

Dust Bowl

When wheat cultivation expanded in the USA, farmers uprooted all vegetation to turn over the soil. This created a huge dustbowl in the USA.

Black Blizzard

The early 1930s saw many years of persistent drought. The winds blew at ferocious speeds across America. The wheat-fields without the cover of natural vegetation helped in turning the ordinary dust-storms into Black Blizzards. The Black blizzards could be as high as 7,000 to 8,000 feet high. They rose like monstrous waves of muddy water.

The black blizzards destroyed everything in their wake, the wheat fields, houses, cattle, etc. Thousands of cattle died because of suffocation. Farm machineries were clogged with dust to an extent that they could not be repaired. The black blizzards devastated the wheat-fields continuously for many years in the 1930s. After the 1930s, the farmers realized the importance of conservation of the ecosystem.