field

Crops production – AEAS精读 (Y10-12)

During the second half of the nineteenth century, the production of food and feed crops in the United States rose at an extraordinarily rapid rate. Corn production increased by four and a half times, hay by five times, oats and wheat by seven times. The most crucial factor behind this phenomenal upsurge in productivity was the widespread adoption of labor-saving machinery by northern farmers. By 1850 horse-drawn reaping machines that cut grain were being introduced into the major grain-growing regions of the country. Horse-powered threshing machines to separate the seeds from the plants were already in general use. However, it was the onset of the Civil War in 1861 that provided the great stimulus for the mechanization of northern agriculture. With much of the labor force inducted into the army and with grain prices on the rise, northern farmers rushed to avail themselves of the new labor-saving equipment. In 1860 there were approximately 80,000 reapers in the country; five years later there were 350,000. After the close of the war in 1865, machinery became ever more important in northern agriculture, and improved equipment was continually introduced. By 1880 a self-binding reaper had been perfected that not only cut the grain, but also gathered the stalks and bound them with twine. Threshing machines were also being improved and enlarged, and after 1870 they were increasingly powered by steam engines rather than by horses. Since steam-powered threshing machines were costly items — running from $ 1,000 to $4,000 — they were usually owned by custom thresher owners who then worked their way from farm to farm during the harvest season. “Combines” were also coming into use on the great wheat ranches in California and the Pacific Northwest. These ponderous machines — sometimes pulled by as many as 40 horses — reaped the grain, threshed it, and bagged it, all in one simultaneous operation. The adoption of labor-saving machinery had a profound effect upon the sale of agricultural operations in the northern states — allowing farmers to increase vastly their crop acreage. By the end of century, a farmer employing the new machinery could plant and harvest two and half times as much corn as a farmer had using hand methods 50 years before.

在19世纪下半叶,美国的粮食和饲料作物的产量以惊人的速度增长。玉米产量增加了4.5倍,干草增加了5倍,燕麦和小麦增加了7倍。造成这种惊人的生产力激增的最关键因素是北方农民普遍采用节省劳力的机器。到1850年,用于收割谷物的马拉收获机被引进到全国主要的谷物种植区。用马驱动的脱粒机将种子从植物中分离出来,这种机器已经广泛使用。然而,1861年内战的爆发为北方农业机械化提供了巨大的刺激。随着大量劳动力进入军队,粮食价格上涨,北方农民纷纷利用这种节省劳动力的新设备。1860年,全国大约有8万名收割者;五年后,这个数字达到35万。1865年战争结束后,机器在北方农业中变得越来越重要,不断改进的设备被引进。1880年,人们发明了一种自动收割机,不仅可以收割谷物,还可以收集秸秆,用细绳捆扎。脱粒机也得到了改进和扩大,1870年后,脱粒机越来越多地由蒸汽机而不是马来驱动。由于蒸汽脱粒机价格昂贵——从1000美元到4000美元不等——它们通常由定制脱粒机的所有者拥有,然后他们在收获季节从一个农场到另一个农场工作。“联合收割机”也开始在加利福尼亚和太平洋西北部的大农场上使用。这些笨重的机器——有时多达40匹马拉着——收割谷物,打谷,装袋,所有这些都是同时进行的。节省劳力的机器的采用对北方各州农业经营的销售产生了深远的影响,使农民能够大大增加他们的作物面积。到本世纪末,使用这种新机器的农民种植和收获的玉米是50年前使用手工方法的农民的2.5倍。