How Did New Technology Help Farmers on the Great Plains?

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New technologies helped farmers on the Great Plains after the Civil War by saving them time and effort. The labor-saving technologies helped turn an area that was once considered a vast wasteland into an area that could be farmed and settled. Some of the technologies that made it possible to settle and farm the Great Plains were steel plows, water-pumping windmills, barbed wire and railroads.

A blacksmith named John Deere invented a way to make plow blades out of steel. Steel plows allowed farmers to plow their fields without the plow blades clogging up as cast iron plow blades did in the thick, rich soil of the Great Plains. The invention of water-pumping windmills helped solve the problem of getting enough water with the small summer rainfalls of the Great Plains by using wind power to pump water from wells.

The invention of barbed wire in 1874 solved the problem of building fences on the Great Plains, since not enough trees grew in the region to provide wood for fences. Railroads going to the west made it possible for farmers to ship out their crops, and they could bring in supplies for an affordable price. Some adaptations that helped as well were sod houses, wheat farming, dry farming techniques and beef cattle raising.