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Farming Technologies That Changed the World

Monty Bussard walks back to his 1947 Farmall Model A tractor, after shoveling a sidewalk following a 2014 snowstorm in Myersville, Md. The tractor is one machine that revolutionized farming.

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

If you started your day wearing clothing made of cotton, eating multigrain cereal doused with milk or filling your vehicle's tank with an ethanol blend, you may want to thank a farmer.

From fibers to food to fuel, nearly every aspect of daily life is powered by agriculture. Farmers harvest cotton fibers for cloth, raise dairy cows for milk, and cultivate grains for food and fuel. They even grow the hogs that supply our bacon fixation. And turducken? That enigmatic combination of turkey, duck and chicken wouldn't be possible without farmers, either.

So what does it take to feed, fuel and clothe an increasingly populated planet? A little rain, a little sun and a lot of technology. In fact, modern farmers are just as likely to use GPSs to track crop production as they are to consult the Old Farmer's Almanac for advice.

In the 1940s, one U.S. farmer produced enough to feed 19 people. By the 2000s, that number had grown to 155 [source: Animal Smart]. Here are five farm technologies that have made this possible.

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