This month the Ag in the Classroom lessons were about farm machinery. A farmer uses many kinds of machinery and equipment. The equipment used today helps grain and livestock farmers produce better quality products in larger amounts. We talked about five basic machines: the tractor that pulls other machines, the cultivator that prepares soil for planting and digs out the weeds, the planter/drill which plants the seed into the soil, the combine which harvests the crops, and the wagon/truck that carries the grain from the field to the elevator.
The days of farming with horses have given way to four wheel drive tractors with an average cost of $240,000. A combine used to harvest the grain can cost $300,000. The cost of equipment amounts to an incredible amount of money that farmers invest in their business.
Farmers have advanced beyond the original style John Deere plow to using minimal or no-till farming to prevent valuable topsoil from eroding. Modern technology brings GPS systems to the farm. GPS systems allow farmers to monitor yields of fields, determine fertilizer requirements for specific areas of a field, work in low visibility conditions (dusk or fog), and assist with pest management. GPS allows crop dusting planes to treat only targeted problem areas, thus reducing the amount of chemicals applied overall.
Younger students made a tractor book to read at home and older students did a bridge building project.
Ag in the Classroom is sponsored by Douglas County Farm Bureau, Douglas County Ag Center and Illinois Ag in the Classroom.