Technological inventions during the twentieth century have changed the way we work. Once, 30 acres was the most farm families could manage and that was with everyone pitching in. Today, farmers can work thousands of acres and produce more per acre than their grandfathers did. Metter farmer Bill Lanier tells about his experiences in the past saying he did not know he was poor because everyone was poor. According to Lanier, in the 1940s, a wife, mule, bed, and a stove were sufficient for earning a living on the land. Times have changed and the Department of Defense has played a role in improving farming. Dr. Craig Kvien, an agricultural scientist at the University of Georgia, explains how global positioning system technology (GPS) used in the Gulf War helps farmers. W.P. Smith and his son Tony are fourth and fifth generation farmers in Early County who have witnessed many changes that have made farming more efficient. Crop yields have increased benefitting more people as a result. Tony Smith describes how precision farming uses GPS technology to deliver the correct amounts of fertilizer to every part of a field. Yield measures taken while the crop is being harvested help farmers plan for the next crop. Mike Newberry, another Early County farmer, thinks people would be surprised at the amount of technology used in farming today. He also believes the potential is unlimited for improving farming methods in the future.
Teacher tip: Like most professions, farming has changed greatly from the 1940s to today. Brainstorm with students about other inventions and technological discoveries that could help farmers increase crop yields.