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Where to look ?

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Where to look ?
Posted by UNCLEBUTCH on Saturday, March 23, 2019 11:07 AM

Where would I look, and what search words should I use to find what equipment ''may'' have been used in the 50s ?

I have a bulk fertilizer dealer,served by rail,bringing in materal to be mixed and then shipped and applyed by truck.

What equipment would have been used ?. I searched fertilizer and learned more then I needed to know,but not what I wanted.

I know covered hoppers wrer coming on line someware in that time frame. But no mention of fertilizer.   Any suggestions?

Thanks

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Posted by j. c. on Saturday, March 23, 2019 1:54 PM

go to  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/  click on farm security tab an type in fertilizer.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, March 23, 2019 2:04 PM

What I remember from my grandad's farm, here in SE WI, as  kid, fertilizer was in bags, and there was a seperate box on the corn planter that held the fertilizer.  

I don't remember trucks or equipment spreading bulk fertilizer until the mid 60's, and that was in Iowa, kind of a different farming technique, as Iowa was a lot of cash crops, and much of WI was for feed for the dairy herd.

Not sure where your area is, but I bet in the 50's, it was mostly bags, in box cars.  I think as hoppers begin to appear, they were used more for hauling the finished product, instead of box cars.

It was in Iowa where I seen the first application of liquid ammonia, with the knived spreader, and bulk tanks.

Mike.

 

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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, March 23, 2019 4:18 PM

This kind of industrial history research can be a challenge.  It isn't just a matter of the history of railcars, but also the history of fertilizer.  My sense is that adding fertilizer other than the farm's own manure supply is a fairly recent thing of the 20th century.  

There is some info on these forums from a prior time when the question was asked.  Scroll down to see the question and a railroader's answer:

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/13/p/226294/2520650.aspx

 

A Car Builder's Cyclopedia from that 1950s era should mention commodities carried in coveerd hoppers.  And don;t forget tank cars.  

Another area to do research would be in vintage agricultural and farm magazines.  A very well stocked public or university library may have them on the shelves. 

Old issues of railroad trade journals such as Railway Age might also mention when covered hoppers started carying fertilizer, and tank cars started to carry anhydrous ammonia.  That too might be in the collection of a very large public library or university research library.

Sometimes at rail collectible swap meets one sees tarriffs for various commodities. That might also indicate if the tarriff is based on bulk fertilizer in a covered hopper or bagged fertilizer in a boxcar, or liquid in a tank car.  

The online information seems very diffuse.  I found this reference to bagged nitrogen shipped in boxcars in the 1930s, and that things changed after WWII in terms of fertilizer use on farms.

https://livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/crops_08.html

Dave Nelson

 

 

 

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Posted by basementdweller on Saturday, March 23, 2019 9:51 PM

Hard to find much info on this topic. Artificial fertilizers we still in development in the 1950's and most farmers would have just been using manures. Not sure when farmers really began using artificial fertilizers, most likely 1960's and they surely would have been handled in bags, I remember bagged fertilizer was in use well into 1980's and probably 1990's. Bulk handling I remember in one ton bags handled by a loader or forklift was a big change during 1980's.

The large fertilizer application contractors who handle bulk fertilizer and spread with floaters probably began their operations in late 60 or early 70's and I am sure they would have been supplied by rail most likely in hoppers. One interesting thing I found was the development of fertilizer to stop it crusting, which leads me to think it most likely would not have been put in a covered hopper it is was susceptible to crusting. 

So back to the 1950's, I wonder how much demand there was fertilizer in general for the railroads to even handle it at all? By the 1960's I would think so. 

Another aspect to the topic is liquid fertilizer and anhydrous ammonia. 

 

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Posted by UNCLEBUTCH on Sunday, March 24, 2019 11:52 AM

Thank you Gentlemen, for the replys.

The links were helpful,while they didn't really answer my question, they did provide some evidence that I'm not that far off. And offered an interesting read.

Appreciate it.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, March 24, 2019 12:42 PM

The link on living farm history I've used before when my memory falls short, it has a lot of great info. They have a chart that tracks the growth of fertilizer use, and the period between the 50's and 60's it seems to really start growing at a fast rate.

I guess when it's part of your daily living, you don't see anything as "the beginning" of anything, especially when your a young kid, just doing your chores.

Once again, not sure of the area of the country your looking for, maybe vast wheat fields in the west were handled on a different scale, but in the 50's, I think you'll be hard pressed to find anything other than tractor drawn equipment.

Crop dusting was also exploding during this period.  All of that war effert moving in a different direction.

Good luck!

Mike.

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Posted by Eric White on Wednesday, April 03, 2019 9:48 AM

In the '50s?

Fertilizer most likely would be transported bagged in boxcars.

Covered hoppers came into their own in the '60s, especially for grain.

Eric

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