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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom



August is National Inventor's Month

Walking Plow

American agriculture owes much of its success to the innovative thinking of farmers looking for ways to solve problems and make farming easier. Thomas Jefferson was an avid farmer and inventor who saw a problem with the crude wooden plows used by farmers in his day. They barely scratched the surface and merely loosened the topsoil, making it susceptible to washing away at the first hard rain. Jefferson's solution was the moldboard plow, which lifted and turned the sod. With this tool he could plow to a depth of about six inches. This enabled farmers to contour-ridge erodible fields, plow out shallow ditches, and ridge poorly drained flat lands.

Over 100 years later a farmer from Hooker, Oklahoma, invented another plow that helped control erosion and became the "Plow to Save the Plains."

Red Dirt Groundbreaker: Fred Hoeme
Fred Hoeme was a farmer living near Hooker during the Dust Bowl era who was concerned about wind erosion. Hoeme noticed that road equipment kicked up dirt clods that didn't blow around like the soil plowed using the usual plowing methods. He invented the chisel plow, which left the residue of previous crops exposed. This helped stabilize the soil and prevented the formation of surface crusts, which helped the soil take in and hold rainwater.
Hoeme and his sons manufactured and sold about 2,000 plows from their farmstead. In 1938 W.T. Graham bought the rights to make and sell the plows. Graham modified the plow and advertised it as the Graham-Hoeme Plow, the "Plow to Save the Plains." It was sold worldwide. By the 1950s, about half of all Great Plains farmers owned chisel plows. The widespread use helped control wind erosion during the seven-year drought of the 50s. In 2000 a plaque was installed in Hoeme's honor at the Williams Homesteaders Park in Hooker.
Research important agricultural inventions using these resources
AITC Lessons Related to Ag Inventions and Research
Shopping Cart

Lesson from National Ag in the Classroom about the development of the combine harvester. Includes a great STEM activity:

Oklahoma Inventors Database

An index of US patents issued to individuals residing in Indian and Oklahoma Territories, 1880-1907.

  • Students will compare the number of ag-related inventions with non ag-related inventions in a sampling of the inventions on the list and develop graphs to illustrate their findings.
  • Students will use data from a sampling of the database to predict the number of ag-related inventions in a larger sample and compute simple probabilities as fractions, decimals or percents.
  • Students will use the index to make a timeline of some of the ag-related inventions.
Writing Prompt

The shopping cart was invented in Oklahoma City in 1937 by Sylvan Goldman. Goldman's invention was inspired by a folding chair. Develop your own invention based on a common item like the folding chair. Name your invention and write one or more paragraphs explaining why it would be useful.

Bridges, Sarah, I Drive a Tractor (Working Wheels), Picture Window, 2007. (Grades PreK-2)
Modern tractor technology, structure and operation, including tractor safety information.
Doeden, Matt, Farm Tractor, Capstone, 2007
Early readers learn how tractors work and about tractor components, modern tractor technology, structure and operation.
Rainmakers: A Photographic Story of Center Pivots, Groundwater Foundation, 2005.
Examines the history and complexity of center pivot irrigation through instructive and beautiful photographs and shows how the technology helps producers nourish our world.