FROM DRAFT TEAMS TO TRACTORS
the skyrocketing demand.
In the early 1850s, H. L. Emery of Albany, New York, began producing stationary hay presses that compressed dried grass into two- by two- by fourfoot bales that weighed 250 pounds. Over the next decades a number of new machines became available that for the first time turned hay into a commodity that was easily shipped over longer distances and stored compactly on farms. Different machines created bales of varying sizes and shapes, and many required multiple people to operate them.
In 1859, immigrants Wendelin and Juliana Grimm settled in Minnesota and planted alfalfa seed they had brought with them from Germany. By selecting and replanting seeds only from the hardiest plants, they developed a strain of alfalfa that would withstand harsh Northern winters. Virtually all the alfalfa currently grown in the United States can be traced to the seed the Grimms carried with them to America.
By the end of the 19th century, steam engines were beginning to power a variety of farm equipment, and in the 1890s, Iowa inventor John Froelich invented the first gasoline-powered tractor. But the transition from horse-drawn to gas-powered farm machinery would take decades.
“The key element would always be if the farmer could afford to buy the new equipment,” points out Hoffbeck. “It was a big change to go from