Guano

Lead: As world population grew in the years before and after 1800 so did the demand for food. At the same time, much farm acreage was depleted, tired, unproductive. This problem was solved in part with guano.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Guano is bird excrement. Grouped with the droppings of bats and seals, it is perhaps the most potent natural fertilizer, and bird guano is the primo variety containing up to 16% nitrogen, 12% phosphorus, and 3% potassium. In the mid-19th century, guano was treated as if it were gold, provoked at least one fighting war, and made enormous fortunes for growers and suppliers alike.

 

 

 

George Washington Carver Part II

Lead: In 1896 agricultural scientist George Washington Carver received a unique invitation. It came from American educator Booker T. Washington.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: At this time George Washington Carver had just been appointed to the faculty of Iowa State College – the school’s first African American faculty member. Carver already had a national reputation in the field of agricultural research. Washington asked Carver to come to Alabama to create the agriculture program at Tuskegee Institute. “I cannot offer you money, position or fame. The first two you have… These… I ask you to give up. I offer you in their place: work—hard, hard work, the task of bringing a people from degradation, poverty, and waste…. Your department exits only on paper and your laboratory will have to be in your head.” Carver spent the rest of his life at Tuskegee.

 

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George Washington Carver Part I

Lead: George Washington Carver, a child born into slavery in 1864, would become one of the most renowned and successful of the world’s agricultural scientists.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: George Washington Carver was born to slave parents during the Civil War in Diamond Grove, a small town in southwest Missouri. His birthplace boiled throughout the war in a running conflict between free soil advocates and slaveholders. Carver’s father died accidentally shortly before his birth. Cast adrift and vulnerable, the boy and his mother were kidnapped by slave raiders. Carver was sick with whooping cough and was ransomed by his owners for a horse valued at three hundred dollars. Carver’s mother was never seen again. After emancipation, the orphaned Carver and his brother were taken in by their former owners, Moses and Susan Carver, a kind, childless German couple, who raised them as their own.

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Samuel Johnson and the Agricultural Revolution

Lead: During Samuel Johnson’s lifetime, improvements in farming resulted in a greater food supply. Johnson who loved eating said, “Some people have a foolish way of not minding, or pretending not to mind, what they eat. For my part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully; for I look upon it, that he who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.”

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Although most historians focus on the Industrial Revolution in England during the 18th century, there were also sweeping changes out in the countryside. Britain was being transformed from an agrarian society to an industrial one, but somebody had to feed the growing number of workers occupying the urban factories. One of the great factors fueling the industrial revolution was great increase in agricultural production, which meant that fewer farmers could produce more food. This in turn, supported an enormous surge in population.

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America’s First Century: Tobacco – II

Lead: Once the settlers of Jamestown owned their own land, Virginia could feed itself, but the colony was still in need of a cash crop. It had been there all along.

                Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

                Content: After the equivalent of millions of dollars invested and the loss of hundreds of settlers, after 1616, the Virginia Company finally and gave the colonists their own land. Fifty acres was apportioned to each colonist. This led to increased migration. The “head-right” system gave land to each person paying their way to the colony. Slowly, fitfully, the colony began to feed itself. The key to Virginia’s ultimate success had been there all along.

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America’s First Century: Tobacco I

Lead: In 1615, the English colony at Jamestown was almost defunct. Within a decade the colony had turned itself around. Two reasons: incentives and a cash crop.

            Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

            Content: Since 1607 the Virginia Company, owners of the Jamestown colony had poured nearly ₤50,000 or $11,000,000 in today’s currency into its failing North American investment. In addition over 1700 colonists had come to the New World. Most of them had died.

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Hugh Hammond Bennett and the Conservation of Soil

                Lead:  On an overcast afternoon in the spring of 1935 a rumpled bureaucrat was speaking to a Committee of the United States Senate. Suddenly the sky turned the color of copper. Hugh Hammond Bennett had made his point.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: During the Great Depression of the 1930s several mid-western agricultural states came to be known as the Dust Bowl. Extensive farming and a run of drought-plagued weather had so depleted the soil and dried it out under the grasses of the Great Plains that it became like powder. Windstorms swept it up. Drifts, sometimes ten feet deep covered the roads. At times, in towns all over Kansas, Texas, Wyoming and the Dakotas, you could only see three hundred yards at mid-day. The bones of starved cattle lay bleached by the pale sunlight that pentrated the gloom. With four million acres out of production by the mid-1930s and another sixty-million facing the same threat, one of the nation's greatest assests was in serious peril.

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