We Think our Tractors are Superb!
A lot of the philosophy behind organic regenerative farming is the idea that if it isn’t broken it doesn’t need fixing. It’s farming in a way that we’ve been doing for generations. Using all-natural amendments, growing a diverse mix of crops, on a scale that is sustainable and manageable. Farms grew what was needed to feed their families and neighbors. Kept in balance by people and animal power, farms were small and self-sufficient. Experimentation with steam powered farm implements began as early as 1812, but it wasn’t until the 1860s that a self-propelled steam powered tractor was invented. In 1892, the first gasoline powered tractor was developed in Iowa. What followed was years of experimentation, the introduction of diesel and design tweaks to get to the tractor design we picture today.
Here at Cedar Circle Farm we have quite a few tractors. Many of our rigs are small, antique models that we keep running with the help of our master mechanic, Dave. The above picture is our Production Manager Taylor on a 1974 Farmall Cub with a basket weeder attachment. From the 50s, 60s, and 70s our gas-powered tractors are small and versatile. The vegetable production that we do does not require a lot of power or weight and our tractors complement our human sized scale.
With the “Get big or get out!” mentality of the 1970s came the increase in the size of tractors. If you were planting “fence row to fence row” as then Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz wanted, you needed machines that could cross large acreage and do the work of multiple hands on larger and larger farms. John Deere, Massey Ferguson, and New Holland responded. John Deere sells large tractors ranging from 145 to 620 horsepower. They can cost more than half a million dollars and weigh up to 43,000 lbs. Many large tractors come with built in GPS and autosteer systems that only require the driver to make the turn at the end of a row. As tractors have gotten larger, so too have combines, forage harvesters, grain and forage wagons, manure spreaders, and lime trucks.
High powered equipment equals heavier equipment. More weight on the soil means greater soil compaction. Soil is ideally 50% air. Compaction occurs when too much pressure on the soil reduces this porosity. This affects the soils ability to absorb and hold water and reduces yields over time. Compacted, degraded soil then requires even heavier equipment and more chemical fertilizers to till it up and make it viable to plant year after year. This self-destructive cycle can be hard to break, especially when many farmers find themselves pressured to get bigger and bigger in order to survive (and go into debt to do so).
Farmers don’t benefit from bigger equipment, costly chemical inputs, and patent protected seeds, but agribusiness corporations do. If we want to continue to preserve a sustainable way of farming, we need tools that are affordable, repairable, small, and efficient. Our antique tractors are all of those things and allow us to do just that.