History Of Agriculture In Modern Science Essay Rubric

Is Tess in ‘Tess of the d'Urbervilles' portrayed as being responsible for her own demise? [pdf 40 KB]

Yours is a beautifully clear essay. You write very well, and your prose is delightful to read. You've also done your research and it shows. There is a remarkable lack of vagary about society or feminism in your piece, and you've picked canny quotes from your secondary sources that elucidate and situate your arguments.

You've also located some wonderfully specific quotations from your primary source to support your argument that Hardy's narrator sympathises with Tess. Some of your close readings are wonderfully astute, as when you point out that Tess implores Angel, rather than commanding him. Slightly less persuasive is your assertion that Tess is the victim of Alec's eyes; I suspect you might have found better quotations, descriptions, or incidents denouncing Alec's gaze.

You are clearly very good at pursuing and proving an argument. I encourage you to be a bit more experimental in your next essay; perhaps choose a less straightforward topic and see where it takes you.

Please see penciled notes throughout on shortening sentences and watching for comma splices (please look this term up in a style manual if it is unfamiliar).

Agriculture has a rich tradition of embracing technology to improve crop production, increase efficiency, minimize environmental impacts, and more. Innovations ranging from the invention of the plow, refrigerated railcars, the Internet, and the development of genetically modified crops all have played pivotal roles in helping U.S. farmers become the most productive in the world, revolutionizing how farmers run their business, while also changing the face of rural communities.

Machines on the Farm

One of the first innovations to improve crop production happened when early growers realized yields improved if the soil was loosened prior to planting. As early as 4,000 B.C., farmers were using simple plows made of sticks pulled by humans or animals. As time progressed, and the global population expanded, farmers searched for more efficient ways to till the soil. The moldboard plow, for example, allowed the soil to be laid over old crops and weed seeds, leaving a clean furrow to plant new seeds. The addition of a steel plate by blacksmith John Deere in 1837 made it possible for iron plows to cut through the soil without having fresh earth stick to the moldboard. Today, global positioning systems can be found guiding tractors and combines using real-time data to plant seeds, apply chemicals and harvest crops.


In the late 1800s, delivering peaches from a farmer in Oregon to a consumer in Missouri, or fresh cuts of beef from a meat-packing plant in Chicago to a consumer in Boston was a costly and time-intensive endeavor, and often resulted in spoilage before it reached its destination. The expansion of the railroad system in the late 1800s increased the speed and distance in which producers could deliver their product. The invention of the refrigerated rail car in 1878, revolutionized the meat industry by allowing producers to rapidly deliver perishable products. Today, ships, barges, trains, trucks, and other methods help transport products from farm to market. Advancements in transportation technology helped to open new markets, lower the cost of delivery, and ultimately improve the business of agriculture.

Increasing Yields

For many years, farmers have turned to agricultural chemicals, like pesticides and herbicides, to improve yields and reduce insect damage. Scientists have cross-pollinated plants of the same species (hybrids) to create certain traits, like drought tolerance. New biotechnology innovations are now used to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by inserting genes from one species of plant or bacteria into an entirely different species of plant. Like virtually every other technological advancement, GMOs and agricultural chemicals come with their own set of challenges and have initiated much debate about their use.

Crops as Energy

Farmers in the United States have regularly produced a reliable supply of food and fiber, but in recent years they have also produced an increasing share of the nation's fuel. In the wake of the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s, lawmakers implemented policies designed to provide more reliable supplies of energy. Corn-based ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel were developed to provide a homegrown, renewable alternative to petroleum-based energy. Critics contend alternative fuel production drives up food prices, while proponents say the products lower prices at the pump and help lessen the United State's addiction to foreign oil.

Feeding the World

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projects the world population will reach 9 billion by 2050. Since nearly 1 billion people around the globe are already counted among the ranks of the hungry, the FAO has called for a 100 percent increase in global food production by mid-century. Since the increased demand will be satisfied from virtually the same land area as today, the FAO concludes that 70 percent of the increased production must come from efficiency-enhancing technologies.

Some scientific and technical innovations have introduced challenges as well as rewards, with much debate about their costs and benefits to the environment, economy, and people. What is the most important scientific or technological innovation in agriculture? How will agricultural technology change in your lifetime?

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