The opportunities that Agriculture presents to humanity abounds. Some individuals have really made their waves in Agriculture, and their names have been much celebrated in the anal of history. Below is a list of six individuals who have done exceedingly well in the Agricultural sector and have created significant pathways for others to thread.
George Washington Carver lived from 1864 to 1943. He was born into slavery in the United States. He was raised by his former master after the demise of his parents. At about age 12 George started school and graduated from high school at the age of 21. He went on to receive a bachelors degree in agricultural science in 1896 from Iowa state Agricultural college, now Iowa state university. He was the first black person to graduate from the university and to serve on the faculty. He later accepted the invitation to head the Department of Agriculture at6 the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. At that time, the farmlands in the southern US were devastated by years of planting on crop- cotton. Carver introduced groundnuts and sweet potatoes. The two new crops not only grew well, they also restored the fertility of the soil. The problem then arose of what to do with the groundnuts and sweet potatoes as farmers could not find sufficient markets for their produce. After much laboratory research, Carver eventually developed 300 derivative products from groundnuts and 118 products from sweet potatoes. Among these products were plastics, medicinal oils, ink, dyes, linoleum, cosmetics, flour, cheese, powdered milk, synthetic rubber, fertilizer etc. As a result of carver’s work, agriculture and the economy of Southern US were renewed. Before his work groundnut was not even considered a crop. By the 1940s it was the second largest cash crop in the region. Carver’s fame spread all over the world.
Fritz Herber alongside Carl Bosch developed the process of ammonia synthesis, however Herber initially took much of the credit as the world referred to the invention as the Haber Process. Later there was proposition to give credit to Bosch as well by referring to the process as Haber-Bosch process. In 1908 Haber developed the technique still used today to take the vast amount of nitrogen available in the atmosphere and convert it into nitrogen that plants can use. In 1918 Haber won the Nobel Prize for this discovery. Although nitrogen fertilizer had been previously available, this major leap forward allowed for the relatively inexpensive production of nitrogen fertilizer which ultimately led to its widespread availability. Today, people the world over rely on the Haber-Bosch process to produce nitrogen fertilizer which helps raise food. Without the Haber-Bosch process, we would not be able to feed our global population–Haber’s discovery has helped feed countless billions of humans. Haber developed the process to mass produce nitrogen fertilizer inexpensively.
Borlaug is credited with saving hundreds of millions to as many as a billion lives from starvation. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work on the world’s food supply, Borlaug is known the world over for his highly successful wheat breeding and wheat research programs in Mexico. He created the World Food Prize in 1986 to recognize the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. Borlaug championed an adequate food supply for every human being, and spent his lifetime working on improving food production to feed an ever-growing world population.
George Harrison Shull, a botanist by training, was often referred to as the father of hybrid corn. He devoted 30 years of his life to corn breeding. He began his famous experiments at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island New York. His experiments began in 1905 and centred on inheritance in corn. Although there are several geneticists/botanists who made contributions to the development of hybrid corn, Shull made the critical observations on the reduction in vigour on inbreeding corn and the subsequent improvement of vigour on crossing corn. These experiments provided the basis for hybrid corn. Although it was ground breaking research, it would not be until 1922 before hybridized corn was made commercially available. Shull founded the journal Genetics (which is considered to this day one of the top international science journals), and served as a Professor of Botany and Genetics at Princeton University.
Wallace’s accomplishments are many: Vice President of the United States, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, and other distinguished roles. Wallace was considered an active Secretary of Agriculture and his Department of Agriculture oversaw the creation and development of the food stamp and school lunch programs. He supported government intervention and implemented controversial measures to regulate production in American farming with government planning designed to battle overproduction and low prices. Specifically, Wallace ordered slaughtering pigs and plowing up cotton fields in rural America to drive the price of these commodities back up in order to improve American farmers’ economic situation. He experimented with breeding high-yielding strains of corn and easily earns a spot here because he also founded the Hi-Bred Corn Company in 1926, which we is now known as Pioneer Hi-Bred.
Rachel Carson was born on May 27 1907 and died on April 14 1964. She wrote a book titled the Silent Spring which was Published in 1962. The book was a landmark event in the history of the environmental movement. Carson focused the book on pesticides and their use in agriculture, and argued that those chemicals were dangerous to the environment, wildlife, and humans. Carson was adept at presenting thorough documentation to make her point and concluded that the effects were akin to pesticide poisoning. The book is not without great controversy, and is cited as making erroneous cause-and-effect relationships one of which led to severe use restrictions and bans of DDT. It has been suggested that the subsequent ban of DDT has led to the resurgence of malaria and other fatal diseases. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall, what cannot be disputed is the powerful impact this book has on the agricultural world.