Nature’s Past Episode 16: The Industrialization of Agriculture

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Episode 16: The Industrialization of Agriculture

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From 1945 to the early 1970s, technological innovations helped to transform American agriculture. The introduction of industrial chemicals and new machinery to US farm operations in the decades after the Second World War ushered in, what some historians have characterized as an agricultural revolution. These changes certainly altered food production and agricultural output. They also altered the practice of farming itself, leading ultimately to fewer farmers tending larger and larger farms. What caused farmers to adopt these new chemical and mechanical technologies? How did this affect the business of farming in the second half of the twentieth century? What were the environmental and human health consequences of these substantial changes in agriculture?

On this episode of Nature’s Past,  Joe Anderson joins us to discuss his book Industrializing the Corn Belt: Agriculture, Technology, and Environment, 1945-1972, a detailed study of the adoption of industrial chemical and mechanical technologies on US farms in the decades following the Second World War.

Also, Jim Clifford discusses his new role as Project Coordinator for the Network in Canadian History and Environment.

Image of Book Cover: Industrializing the Corn Belt: Agriculture, Technology, and Environment, 1945-1972,


Joe Anderson

Jim Clifford

Works Cited:

Sean Kheraj, Canadian History and Environment

J.L. Anderson, Industrializing the Corn Belt: Agriculture, Technology, and Environment, 1945-1972. DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University Press, 2009.

Jim Clifford, West Ham and the Lower Lea River

Music Credits:

“The Turtle Steps” by Pitx

“Acoustic Guitar 100 BPM” by donniedrost

“A Beautiful Day (moon edit)” by robertodaglio1

“Acoustic Guitar Strumming 143 BPM” by unreal_dm

Photo Credit:

“2011 10-11 Moonset Over Iowa Corn” by scottshephard


Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 16: The Industrialization of Agriculture” Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast. 28 September 2010.

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Sean Kheraj is the director of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of History and vice dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University. His research and teaching focuses on environmental and Canadian history. He is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at

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