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Listen and answer the following questions:

Where does the information come from?

How many horses and mules did America have in 1920?
Which are the numbers of horses and mules nowadays?
When did tractors reach their highest numbers?
What was the main consequence of replacing horses and mules?
How many hectares of oats were planted in 1954?
what did the farmers do with the extra land?
Which is the most valuable crop grown by American farmers?
Where does much of the soybean production go?
Turn soil.
Pull loads.
Discuss the following statement.
People often recognize trends only when they consider the past.

From Horses to Tractors, Changes in U.S. Agriculture

Im Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.
Over the years, new technologies have changed farming. Change in a general direction is a trend.
Yet people often recognize trends only when they consider the past.
Today, we look back at some trends in American agriculture. We begin with the change from
animal power to mechanical power. Our information comes from the National Agricultural
Statistics Service, part of the Agriculture Department.
In 1920, America had more than twenty-five million horses and mules. Most were used for farm
work. Around the same time, a competitor began to appear in large numbers. Tractors could turn
soil, pull loads and speed harvests -- and they could do it better.
More tractors meant fewer horses and mules. By the 1960s, the numbers of these work animals
settled to where they remain today. That is about one-tenth the levels in 1920.
Yet even the demand for tractors had its limits. Tractors reached their highest numbers around
1982. Their numbers have been slowly decreasing. Experts say farmers can do more with less now
because of new technologies.
So, tractors replaced horses and mules. As a result, farmers no longer needed to raise crops to feed
work animals.
Oats have long been food for horses and mules. In 1954, American farmers planted over sixteen
million hectares of oats. By two thousand, that was down to less than one million hectares.
So what did the farmers do with the extra land?
More and more farmers began to plant a new crop around the same time that the tractor became
popular. It was the soybean. The soybean is one of the oldest plants harvested. Yet it was not
planted widely in the United States until the 1920s.
By the year two thousand, close to thirty million hectares were planted with soybeans. It is the
nation's most important crop for high-protein animal feed and for vegetable oil. In fact, soybeans
are the second most valuable crop grown by American farmers after corn. Much of the soybean
production goes to exports.
Next week, learn about other trends that have affected productivity on American farms. And we
will discuss future directions for change.