Have you ever wondered what a farmer does? Well, I asked my dad, John Morawski, about how farm life has changed, and here is what I learned.
Farm life has changed a lot since my dad was a boy. I asked, “What was farming like when you were a boy?”
He said, “It was hard work. It is much easier now than when I was a boy. You would drive in tractors with no cabs and no four-wheel drive. We had beef cows and dairy cows. We would put the milk in glass jars and deliver dairy products to people’s homes all around Schenectady. We had chickens and we planted corn for silage.”
Also, technology has changed a lot. I asked him how, and he explained to me.
“The technology has changed a lot,” he said. “Now the tractors have air conditioning, and they are safer and have heat and radios. We now have better machinery, such as the hay tedder, which helps accelerate hay drying. This produces higher quality and greener hay.”
“We would have to pick up the hay bales by hand. Now we have loaders, which load hay more easily. We would have to cut hay with hay mowers and now we cut with a discbine. There are more effective as well as safer herbicides to use on crops. Pesticides are safer and less toxic. Crops have been improved through conventional breeding as well as transgenics, to produce higher yields. Plants have been improved to resist diseases and insect destruction. There are better herbicides, and higher yielding and less toxic pesticides.”
I also wondered, “How do you do your job?”
He said, “Well, there is a lot to do. One day, you’re at a meeting. The next day, you’re working in the fields, and maybe the next day, you’re fixing farm machinery.”
Then I thought of another question: “What do you do on a farm that you plant crops on?”
“Well, in spring you plant, but before that, you have to disc the ground. You have to spray to keep pests away. You have to watch for diseases and in the West you have to irrigate (spray water) on them. But the biggest thing is watching out for weeds and insect problems which can destroy quickly if not monitored.”
Then, I also asked what he thought future farming will be like.
He said, “Probably larger farms, no room for family farms. The farmer will sit in an office and control the tractors, planters and harvesting equipment by a computer. Lots more robots will be used. Agriculture is a life science. People will increase the use of genetically modified plants and there will be a more efficient use of plant protectant chemicals.”
My last question was, “Why do you think farming is important?”
“Well, when you’re hungry, you’ll know why it is important. Farming feeds the world. Also, the world’s population is growing, and land that we have on the Earth is dwindling in size. Meaning, there will be less and less available farmland in the future. The use of science has applied to agriculture to feed the world’s people. This will happen by increasing the efficiency of plant and animal production. Plants will be utilized for food. Plant and animal agriculture will help supply forms of energy for our country. Some products are ethanol and bio-diesel, which help power our vehicles. Currently, these are made of corn and soybeans.”
My parents also took me to the New York Farm show in Syracuse. I learned a lot about modern farming. Many machines utilized computers. They ranged from milking machines to corn-planting equipment. I also saw old machinery used long ago. I saw how technology has changed farming to be more productive. Now I know what agriculture is about and what it might be like in the future.
Linda Morawski is a fifth-grader at Jefferson Elementary School in Rotterdam.