If you step back in time to the 1900, then 40 percent of America’s population lived on farms and almost everyone lived in a rural area. Today, only one percent of people live on a farm and only 20 percent live in a rural area. Yet, thanks to innovative technology, those farmers are growing more food than ever before and using less natural resources to do it, according to an article recently published in the NY Times.
Today’s farmers are planting about 80.5 million acres of corn. In order to grow the same amount of corn in 1950, it would have taken 228 million acres. Today, farmers are planting 81.8 million acres in soybeans. In 1950 in order to get the same crop they would have had to plant 101.7 million acres. Wheat is planted on 47.1 million acres today compared to 56.9 million acres in 1950. Yet, the same amount of wheat is harvested by farmers.
The same can be said for farmers that are raising livestock. Today, 29. 3 million beef cows are raised to produce the same amount of food that farmers had to raise an additional 15.3 million in the 1950s. On farms across the United States, farmers are raising 9.3 million milk cows that provide the same amount of milk as 39.3 million milk cows in 1950.
America does not need as many farmers today as it did in the past. Large farmers produce 80 percent of all food sold to grocery stores today. In fact, 4 percent of farmers each making over $1 million in sales account for 66 percent of all food sold to grocery stores.
These large farmers use technology so that they can produce more food on less land. They rely on technology to provide them with information about soil nutrients, soil moisture and productivity to make wise decisions on what to plant and how much fertilizer needs to be applied to a particular area in a field. They use GPS driven tractors to plant a variety of seeds in the sane field so that harvests can be maximized.
The future is bright for growing food in the United States. The largest land owner in the United States is John Malone who currently owns over 2.2 million acres. Most of it is in Kansas where he just purchased additional acres that had belonged to the Land Trust Preservation. This land was used to test plants that could produce crops perennially instead of farmers having to replant each year.