When we look back it is always easy to see how far we have advanced over the past 100 or more years. It is easy to look back and compare how farming is done, today, versus how it was done when our ancestors did it. But what about when we look back to a time when some of us were just starting to farm. Looking back in the span of your own life is easy to do, but sometimes we simply overlook it.
Audio: Dr. Catlett’s full address on advancements in Ag
Earlier this month we wrapped up a celebration of 50 years since man first stepped foot on the moon. This was an amazing accomplishment. It ranks as one of the biggest human accomplishments of all time. Many farmers who have retired, or were young when it happened, have seen some monumental changes in agriculture as well as life in general.
Last week, I had the chance to sit down with Dr. Lowell Catlett of New Mexico State University. He spoke at the 2019 Wyffels Corn Strategy meetings about the changes we have seen in the past 50 years. It was staggering to hear some of the things he talked about. To be honest some of the people who were old enough to have been around for the moon landing even reacted with a look of, “That’s right! I remember that.”
Dr. Catlett talks about some of the immense changes which we now just take as a matter of course. This includes things like telephones, the food buying experience, automotive technology, and even indoor toilets.
Catlett talked about how the population has grown and we feed it with fewer acres and inputs.
He also went on to talk about the increases in wildlife populations such as deer, the increase in the number of cats and dogs, other pets, and zoos who all get fed by the work of American agriculture. Fifty years ago, we were concerned if we would even be able to produce enough to feed the world. Catlett says we have done that and then some. We did it on fewer acres and by using fewer resources.
Dr. Catlett by no means was downplaying what we accomplished 50 years ago. In fact, the technology of 50 years ago was leaps and bounds ahead of what we had prior in 1919.
Catlett wanted to illustrate that we are always growing and always advancing, and agriculture meets the challenges it faces and pushes past them.
So, what does Dr. Catlett think we will be facing as we move into the next fifty years? You will have to come back tomorrow for the conclusion.