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GLOBAL AGRICULTURE : Ground Breakers

August 30, 1994

The first farms: Archeological research suggests that farming in the Mideast began around 6750 B.C. Both wheat and barley seeds, as well as bones of goats, have been found in excavations in Iraq. Evidence of cultivated plants--suggesting organized farming--has been found in Thailand, some dating as far back as 7000 B.C.

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Irrigation: It is believed irrigation systems were developed in the Mideast around 5000 B.C. and in Mexico around 1000 B.C.

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Crop rotation: The first written description of crop rotation was made by Sir Richard Weston of England in 1645.

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The share: This tool used for cutting soil was patented by English inventor Robert Ransome in 1785.

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The reaper: This metal instrument for harvesting grain was used with frequency after its presentation at the Great Exhibition of London in 1851.

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The steam plow: Created in the Netherlands in the 1860s, the steam plow soon became indispensable to life on large farms.

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Agricultural guide: A compilation of lectures by Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829), an English chemist, was published in 1918 and titled "Elements of Agricultural Chemistry." Davy's work was a watershed for research in the study of fertilizers.

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Mass-produced synthetic fertilizer: In 1842, British agriculturist Sir John Bennet Lawes patented the process for treating phosphate rock to produce superphosphate, marking the birth of commercial fertilizer.

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Grain combine: This tool, used for harvesting and threshing grain, was first built in the United States in 1836.

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Gasoline-poweredtractor: The first gasoline tractor was manufactured by John Froelich in 1892 in Froelich, Iowa. Sources: "Seed to Civilization: The Story of Food" by Charles B. Heiser Jr. (1990) and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition. Compiled by Times researcher Laura A. Galloway.

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