INFORMATION-BASED FARMING

S. A. Modena samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu
Mon Sep 14 11:57:25 EST 1992


>			.
>			.
>Without trivializing at all the topical questions
>you raise, please note that the historical process
>of mechanization does *not* necessarily procede in
>the direction you imply here.  A number of studies
>(none of which I now have handy) of US operations
>of the early 20th century concluded that tractors
>gained ascendancy on small farms first; in crude
>terms, mechanical power is more fungible, and re-
>quires less (!) specialized care.  Teams of horses
>held out longest on farms with multiple employees,
>and of course where there were "sentimental" reasons.
>I think it would surprise you even today how expensive
>a good draft ox is, compared to the delivered price of
>a small mechanized platform.

Cameron is making a direct attack on stereo-typed ideas!  ;^)

Something that I learned from various people who have dairy herds,
is that the animals tie you to sticking around the farm 365-days-a-year.
With a larger operation (multi-family or extended family), those
ties are relaxed some.

Though I suppose that one might put a horse/mule out to pasture
for a few days (well, maybe not in Minnesota in January), a machine
replacement for horse/oxen teams solves a problem like that.

I suspect that "repair" knowledge for mechanized power platforms grew
faster than the equivalent for draft animals.

If I somehow destroyed the right kingpin on my Ford tractor, I could
pay for a replacement part.  If I severely injured my draft animal,
I always must replace the animal.  World of difference there.  Also,
there is the question of the availability of repair/replacement support
services....mechanized vehicles brought diversification of available
services and comparable-function products.


>
>Related, but distinct, question:  do winners, or losers,
>adopt new technologies?  When the <<coureurs de bois>>
>began offering hilarious prices for beaver pelts, was it
>chiefs or the low-status natives who took them up?  Which
>software engineers learn object-oriented design first?
>Are the millionaires of Hong Kong the outcasts, or over-
>achievers, of the mainland?  Which corn-and-bean growers
>in Indiana adopted minimum-till first?  I've met plenty
>of people who think they know the answers to these
>questions, reasoning from first principles, but I haven't
>yet seen a convincing, a-situational, theoretical framework 
>sufficient to these topics.
>-- 

I wouldn't mind seeing a word or two on each of these.  The
examples as challenges are good ones.  Personally, I have no
trouble in see the thread connecting what seem to be unconnected
examples.  

If you have the time, please fill us in on what you've learned
about these situations.

>
>Cameron Laird
>claird at Neosoft.com (claird%Neosoft.com at uunet.uu.net)	+1 713 267 7966
>claird at litwin.com (claird%litwin.com at uunet.uu.net)  	+1 713 996 8546

Steve
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