Crop Production Advancements

Examples of Advancements in Crop Production in the United States Related to Machinery


Decade Labor Required (Hours) Acres to produce 100 bushels Tools Used
1850’s 75-90 2-1/2 Walking plow, harrow, hand planting
1890’s 35-40 2-1/2 2-bottom gang plow, disk & peg-tooth harrow, 2-row planter
1930’s 15-20 2-1/2 2-bottom gang plow, 7-ft. tandem disk, 4-section harrow, 2-row planters, cultivator, pickers
1970’s 3+ 1-1/8 Tractor, 5-bottom plow, 20-ft. tandem disk, planter, 20-ft. herbicide applicator, 12-foot self-propelled combine, trucks
1980’s 3 1-1/8 Tractor, 5-bottom plow, 25-ft. disk, planter, 25-ft. herbicide application, 15-ft. self-propelled combine, trucks



Decade Labor Required (Hours) Acres to produce 100 bushels Tools Used
1830’s 25-300 5 Walking plow, brush harrow, hand broadcast of seed, sickle, flail
1890’s 40-50 5 Gang plow, seeder, harrow, binder, thresher, wagons, horses
1930’s 15-20 5 3-bottom gang plow, tractor, 10-ft. tandem disk, harrow, 12-ft combine, trucks
1950’s 6-12 4 Tractor, 10-ft. plow, 12-ft. weeder, harrow, 14-foot drill, self-propelled combine, trucks
1960’s 5 3-1/3 Tractor, 12-ft. plow, 14-ft. drill, 14-ft. self-propelled combine, trucks
1970’s Less than 4 3 Tractor, 30-foot sweep disk, 27-ft. drill, 22-foot self-propelled combine, trucks
1980’s 3 3 Tractor, 35-ft. sweep disk, 30-ft. drill, 25-foot self-propelled combine, trucks

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Table created from Bellis, Mary. "American Farm Machinery and Technology Changes from 1776–1990." ThoughtCo, Feb. 6, 2021,