Mechanization with Minneapolis-Moline

Iron Age Ads: Minneapolis-Moline advertisements pushed for farm mechanization in the 1940s.


| March 2007



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In this pair of Minneapolis-Moline magazine ads dating to the mid-1940s, the focus is on the rapid advance of farm mechanization. The ad at right showcases the many uses of power units (they're recommended for everything from combines to threshers, peanut shellers to sheep shearers, irrigation sprayers to beet loaders), and the ad at far right - though promoting the importance of soil conservation - makes a startling observation about the impact of then-modern technology.

Farm power units peaked in popularity in the mid-1940s. With tractors first becoming widely available in the decade leading up to World War II, most farmers in that era who owned a tractor were still using the first one they'd bought. For additional power needs, the power unit was an affordable alternative. When tractor manufacturers resumed production in the post-war years, many farmers stepped up to the plate and bought their second tractor. Legions of first-generation tractors were then put to work as a power supply, and the popularity of power units began to fade.

With Dust Bowl memories still fresh, soil conservation was a hot topic in the post-war years. "All that stands between your high standard of living and starvation is this skin of fertility that covers the earth," cautions the ad at far right. Though the ad's focus is on the importance of conservation, an argument for new equipment also made clear the impact of increasing mechanization on the farm: " … progressive farmers … now produce 31% more food, fiber, and oil with 8.3% fewer workers than they did before the war," the ad notes.

Farm mechanization was just one of many major societal changes underway in the post-war years. Consider also the rising impact of the automobile, the migration of farm workers to urban jobs and the dawn of the age of television.

Our thanks to Rev. Rodney D. Fritz, Hanover, Kan., who submitted these ads.

Advertisements from many farm publications printed at the turn of the 20th century were more than mere methods to hawk tractors and farm equipment. To share those ads from days gone by, Farm Collector periodically reproduces some of the most-spectacular ads used to promote farm equipment and products.