Minnesota Agriculture 1970 - Today

Imagine a farm family from the 1800s stepping onto a modern farm today. How would they respond to all the changes?

Science and Technology Take the Lead

Computers manage farm businesses, keep crop and animal records, and so much more. Computers are built into many farm machines. A robot may milk a cow. A drone may fly over fields surveying land or finding insects. Barns are temperature-controlled to keep animals comfortable.

Plant and Animal Breeding

Scientists have improved plants and animals through careful breeding for many years. Today'€™s farmer produces a leaner meat animal, dairy cows that give more milk, and grows crops like wheat and corn that are more insect-, drought-, and disease-resistant. For example, corn that used to be knee-high by the fourth of July in 1900 is often shoulder-high by that date today. Consumers get higher quality and more abundant plant or animal food products.

Precision Farming

Farming today is done in inches, not just acres. Digital software, drones, and GPS systems linked to satellites help farmers. Electronic devices can map every inch of a field and show just how to manage it for best production. They can control the number of seeds planted, provide the exact amount of fertilizer needed in each area, tell exactly where to kill weeds, and more. It'€™s all done from laptop computers, cell phones, tablets, and tractor cabs.

New Flavors in Minnesota Agriculture

Over 7% of Minnesota'€™s population was born in another country. Some immigrants moved to small towns and rural areas to work in agriculture. For example, jobs at farms, processing, and meatpacking businesses attracted seasonal workers and new immigrants to Worthington, Willmar, and other southern and western Minnesota cities. Immigrants make huge contributions to Minnesota agriculture every day.

Today'€™s supermarkets are packed with hundreds of foods for us to choose from, including locally grown. Some stores have whole sections of food from countries around the world. Farmers markets, food cooperatives, and restaurants also offer a great variety of foods. What do you enjoy most about the diversity of Minnesota'€™s foods?