Newman Smith High School Robotics

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History of Agricultural Robotics
Present-Day Agricultural Robotics
Our Solutions
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History of Agricultural Robotics

Early Civilization Tools

During the Stone Age (2,000,000-3500 BCE), ancient peoples used simple tools such as spears, nets and various other traps to catch their prey. [2] Mesopotamians invented the wooden plow around 3000 BCE (Before Common Era), and by 2800 BCE, they had learned how to make bronze tools. [3]  

The In-Between Years (2500 BCE-1750 AD)

The use of animals has been prominent in agriculture.  Archeologists believe that dogs were the first animals to be domesticated.  Dogs helped early peoples by hunting and also kept rats and other rodents from eating the crops. [2]

Man Using CaschromThe use of animals in farming and the continued use of tools increased the size of many farms.  This allowed farmers to cultivate more land.

The caschrom was invented during the middle ages to till the land.  By pushing the foot peg into the ground and pulling the handle backwards, a farmer could tear up the soil and flip the dirt to either side. [5]

Agricultural Revolution    

The Agricultural Revolution lasted from about 1750-1900 when farming in America changed drastically. [6]

The main cause of the Agricultural Revolution was the introduction of machines.  A well-known machine introduced during this time was Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, one of the first machines used in agriculture.  Eli Whitney, born in Massachusetts, patented his cotton gin on March 14, 1794.  This machine was able to quickly separate cottonseed from cotton fibers, creating up to fifty pounds of cleaned cotton a day, the equivalent of hundreds of man-hours.  As the first major machine of the agricultural revolution, the cotton gin led the way to our modern agricultural machines. [7]

Norfolk Crop Rotation System The system farmers used to plant crops evolved greatly during this time period.  In the early 1800s, people in Norfolk County, England [8] created the Norfolk Crop Rotation System.  This system works by using four main fields and planting different crops in each field.  Each year, the cycle rotates, allowing the nutrients in the soil to replenish. [9]

Another major change that occurred during the Agricultural Revolution was the creation of the United States Department of Agriculture, or the USDA.  On May 15, 1862, President Lincoln created the USDA to improve agricultural practices and standards throughout the country.  At first, the USDA worked only to increase productivity on farms, but starting in the 1880s, work was also done to improve the quality and health standards of these farms.  The research done by the USDA today helps to create robots and other technological improvements for American farms.  [10]

Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries, AKA the eighteen and nineteen hundreds, was a very busy time for agricultural development.  During this time period, some of our modern agricultural machines, such as the lawnmower and the tractor, were invented and put to use worldwide.

John Deere LogoJohn Deere is often considered to be synonymous with nineteenth century agriculture, mostly because you will see his company’s logo and equipment, first created in the 1800’s, in every farm supply store in the US.  John Deere invented the first steel plow in 1837, testing it near Grand Detour, Illinois.  He built this steel plow to solve the problems people were having with the midwestern soil sticking to the teeth of plows designed for the lighter New England soil.  The first Deere, Tate & Gould factory was built in 1848 in Moline, Illinois, where they could take advantage of the waterpower and transportation of the Mississippi River.  In 1918, the company, which became Deere and Company in 1868, began making tractors. [13] These machines have grown to become our modern agricultural robots.