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University of Minnesota Extension

Extension > Source > Spring 2014 > Meeting the challenges of today's agriculture > From horses to high-tech

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From horses to high-tech

Farmers controlled weeds with horse-drawn cultivators in 1914 when Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act that created Extension federally. (University of Minnesota was ahead of the curve, creating Extension in 1909.)

Bert Enestvedt, whose grandfather farmed with horses and oxen, was born six years after national Extension was created. Extension bulletins dating back to 1914 are stored in the family archives, evidence of the research Extension made available to the Enestvedts and other farmers across the state.

"Extension has always been concerned with agriculture and a respected authority," says Enestvedt, a founding director of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. "The University was often almost our sole source of information."

Enestvedt has since lived to see his family's Sacred Heart land farmed with tech-guided tractors. Advanced machinery is needed for farmers to be able to feed an estimated 9.6 billion people in 2050. Extension continues to study new technology and help the Enestvedts and other farmers decide how to apply it on the farm.

In 2014, we celebrate the Smith-Lever Act, which established the Cooperative Extension Service, a partnership between the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and land-grant universities that extends research-based knowledge through outreach education.

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