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Caring for the Crop


Farmers face many obstacles when trying to grow a healthy crop. These obstacles include weeds, unpredictable weather, insects, and plant diseases. In the early 1900s, farmers used heavy plowing of the soil to reduce the weeds, but there wasn’t anything they could do to control the weather, insects, or diseases yet.

A man holds onto a plow as it is being pulled over a farm field by two horses.

Photo Credit: Western Development Museum

Farmers relied on heavily plowing the soil to manage weeds.


In the late 1920s, farmers started using pesticides to protect their crops. Pesticides are substances that kill or deter a specific pest (weeds, insects, or diseases).

Farmers who choose to use pesticides on their fields do so in very small amounts and only use ones that have been proven safe for our ecosystem and our bodies. Pesticides can be organic or synthetic.

Pesticides are one way to protect the crop. Farmers also use practices like crop rotation and cover crops to reduce or prevent pest damage.

A side-view is shown of a high clearance sprayer that is spraying a young crop.

Sprayers are used to spray crops with pesticides.


After the drought of the Great Depression, many farmers and scientists looked for ways to provide water to their crops even when it doesn’t rain. Systems that apply water from a lake or river to a field are called ‘irrigation’. Irrigation is only used on certain fields and the farmer must own the rights to the water. This ensures we don’t use too much water from our reservoirs like lakes and rivers each year.

An irrigation system sprays water onto a green crop.

Farmers use irrigation systems to water crops even when it doesn’t rain.

Water is very important to successfully grow crops and raise livestock on the Prairies!