The New Agriculture
The slowing up of the farmers' frontier presaged important changes in American agriculture, for one thing a trend toward more intensive farming and toward the use of scientific methods. Although the relative position of agriculture in American life declined during the thirty years from 1890 to 1920 and rural growth lagged behind that of total population growth, there was an absolute expansion in rural population and farm production. Several causes may be advanced to explain the lag in agricultural output as against the advance of industry: the slowing up of growth in farm acreage, the tardy acceptance of improved agricultural methods, and the increased cost of farm operation. The relatively high degree of mechanization in American agriculture is the result primarily of three factors: the importance of commercial agriculture, the size of the American farm, and the scarcity of farm labor.