Farm of the Future, National Geographic (1970)

Dreams of engineering the earth’s climate are not new.  Check out an artist’s rendering of techno-utopia in agriculture at the end of the article.

“Fields will be larger, with fewer trees, hedges, and roadways.  Machines will be bigger and more powerful and able to do more operations in fewer trips across the land.  They’ll be automated, even radio-controlled, with closed circuit TV to let an operator sitting on a front porch monitor what is going on.”

“‘Weather control may tame hailstorm and tornado dangers,’ Dr. Irving added. ‘Atomic energy may supply power to level hills or provide irrigation water from the sea.  Satellites and airplanes overhead will transmit readings enabling a farmer to spot diseases breaking out in his crops more surely than he could by walking through the fields.'”

“Farm of the future: Grainfields stretch like fairways and cattle pens resemble high-rise apartments in a farm of the early 21st century, as portrayed by artist Davis Meltzer with the guidance of U. S. Department of Agriculture specialists.  Attached to a modernistic farmhouse, a bubble-topped control tower hums with a computer, weather reports, and a farm-price ticker tape. A remote-controlled tiller-combine glides across a 10-mile-long wheat field on tracks that keep the heavy machine from compacting the soil. Threshed grain, funneled into a pneumatic tube beside the field, flows into storage elevators rising close to a distant city.  The same machine that cuts the grain prepares the land for another crop.  A similar device waters neighboring strips of soybeans as a jet-powered helicopter sprays insecticides. Across a service road, conical mills blend feed for beef cattle, fattening in multilevel pens that conserve ground space.  Tubes carry the feed to be mechanically distributed.  A central elevator transports the cattle up and down, while a tubular side drain flushes wastes to be broken down for fertilizer. Beside the farther pen, a processing plant packs beef into cylinders for shipment to market by helicopter and monorail. Illuminated plastic domes provide controlled environments for growing high-value crops such as strawberries, tomatoes, and celery.  Near a distant lake and recreation area, a pumping plant supplies water for the vast operation.”

Billard, Jules B. “The Revolution in American Agriculture.” National Geographic, Feburary 1970: 147-185.

“Homo sapiens, the Manna Maker” by F. M. Esfandiary (1975)

“Agriculture is undergoing an epochal revolution.  We are evolving from feudal and industrial agriculture to cybernated food production.  Computers, remote control cultivators, television monitors, sensors, data banks can now automatically run thousands of acres of cultivated land. A couple of telefarm operators can feed a million people.”

“We now have the capability to extract limitless raw materials from recycled wastes, rocks, the earth’s interiors, the ocean floors, space.”

“How absurd the American panic over scarcity when we are entering an age of abundance.  How absurd to focus on ‘finiteness’ at the period in evolution when our world is transcending finiteness, opening up the infinite resources of an infinite universe.  How outrageous that after centuries of privation and sacrifice leaders can come up with nothing more than yet more sacrifice. How short-sighted the exhortations to no-growth at precisely the time when we urgently need more and more growth-growth not within but beyond industrialism.”

At least Esfandiary advocates moving away from fossil fuels and investing in solar energy: “Why does the United States dissipate billions of dollars on offshore drilling for oil and on the Alaska pipeline yet invest only a piddling $50 million a year on solar energy and on nuclear fusion?”

Read the rest of the article here.