29 Jun Two Hidden Sources of Productivity Growth in American Agriculture, 1860-1930
“Two Hidden Sources of Productivity Growth in American Agriculture, 1860-1930” (with William N. Parker) Agricultural History 56, October 1982, pp. 648-62
Sustained productivity growth in modern agriculture depends largely upon two complex social processes of learning. In genetic and biochem- ical technology, scientists must learn how to adjust plant varieties and animal breeds to the various and changing conditions of the natural environment. And in agricultural production itself, the producers must learn to anticipate market and factor price changes, to utilize the new genetic and chemical materials afforded them, and to plan to produce what the market (or the state) wants. The two most deeply hidden sources of productivity increase in American agriculture lie in these two learning processes, the one by scientists and the society supporting their work, the other by farmers and those operating the information and marketing institutions. Our work has addressed itself to investigating learning in these two respects during the period 1860-1930 in American agriculture
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