Kiplinger Today’s most read story of the past year was about things we will be saying goodbye to soon. One of the 10 items on the list is a farm implement. Here’s the complete list. (Please remember, it’s Kiplinger’s list, not ours!)
1. Keys: At the office, most of us already use a card with a chip embedded to get access. But for getting into your house (and your car), the technology that will kill off the key is your smart phone.
2. Blackouts: Two factors are at work: slow, incremental “smart grid” improvements to the system that delivers electricity, and the rapidly expanding use of solar energy in homes and business.
3. Fast-Food Workers: Burger-flippers have targets on their backs as fast food executives are eager to replace them with machines, particularly as minimum wages in a variety of states are set to rise to $15.
4. The Clutch Pedal: Every year it seems that an additional car model loses the manual transmission option. Even the Ford F-150 pickup truck can’t be purchased with a stick anymore.
5. College Textbooks: By the end of this decade, digital formats for tablets and e-readers will displace physical books for assigned reading on college campuses, The Kiplinger Letter is forecasting.
6. Dial-Up Internet: According to a study from the Pew Foundation, only 3% of U.S. households went online via a dial-up connection in 2013.
7: The Plow: Few things are as symbolic of farming as the moldboard plow, but the truth is, the practice of “turning the soil” is dying off.
Modern farmers have little use for it. It provides a deep tillage that turns up too much soil, encouraging erosion because the plow leaves no plant material on the surface to stop wind and rain water from carrying the soil away. It also requires a huge amount of diesel fuel to plow, compared with other tillage methods, cutting into farmers' profits. The final straw: It releases more carbon dioxide into the air than other tillage methods.
Deep plowing is winding down its days on small, poor farms that can't afford new machinery. Most U.S. cropland is now managed as "no-till" or minimum-till, relying on herbicides and implements such as seed drills that work the ground with very little disturbance. Even organic farmers have found ways to minimize tillage, using cover crops rather than herbicides to cut down on weeds. Firms like John Deere (DE) offer a range of sophisticated devices for these techniques.
8. Your Neighborhood Mail Collection Box: Around the country, the U.S. Postal Service has been cutting back on those iconic blue collection boxes. The number has fallen by more than half since the mid 1980s.
9. Your Privacy: If you are online, you had better assume that you already have no privacy and act accordingly.
10. The Incandescent Lightbulb: As of January 1, 2014, the manufacture and importation of 40- to 100-watt incandescent bulbs became illegal in the U.S., part of a much broader effort to get Americans to use less electricity.