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2018 is the Year of the Tractor at Smithsonian Museum
USAgNet - 02/23/2018

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will mark 2018 as the Year of the Tractor with two new displays on the past, present and future of agriculture. "Precision Farming" will open Jan. 19 within the museum's "American Enterprise" exhibition with a more contemporary story of disruptive technology in today's agriculture industry.

A green, yellow and red 1918 Waterloo Boy tractor will be on view at the entrance to "American Enterprise" beginning Feb. 22, marking the 100th anniversary of the Deere and Company's entry into the tractor market with the acquisition of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. in 1918. This display will highlight the introduction of light-weight gasoline-powered tractors, a major revolution in agriculture that moved farming firmly into the realm of commercial production.

The Waterloo Boy will be showcased with historic images and advertisements that marketed the then-new technology to help convince farmers to shift from animal power and labor-intensive production to gasoline-powered tractors. In the mid-1900s, nearly 100 manufacturers were in the tractor market. By the 1930s, only two major companies dominated: Deere and International Harvester.

The display invites the public to consider the uncertainty inherent in adopting new inventions and the considerations that go into investing in machinery versus staying with traditional methods. Over time, farmers modernized their rural operations by seeking the efficiency, economy of scale and use of machines typical of urban factories. One image displayed behind the 100-year-old tractor provides a glimpse into the future of farming-a drone flying over a Kansas corn field.

The "Precision Farming" case tells a more modern story of how farmers have adapted to technology-even the use of drones-that is changing agricultural practices in fundamental ways. In the late 1990s, location-tracking technology, such as GPS, helped launch a different agriculture revolution. U.S. farmers began using this technology to "see" bigger variations within their fields and livestock.

Information has become the "new crop of the 21st century" as farmers rely on data on soil types, harvest yields for precise locations, moisture content measurement, animal management, and recording the effect of weeds, pests, and diseases.

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