First in war, d'abord en paix, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.

How about first in farming?

Id love to add that label to George Washington, if only I could revise and extend the famousquote from theélogedeliveredin 1799byLight-Horse Harry Lee.

À l'approche de la journée des présidents lundi, fév. 18and Washingtons ownanniversaireon Feb. 22mythoughts turn to this Founding Father. He was possibly the greatest American inourhistory. He helped the United States win its independence from Great Britain and thenheserved two terms as our first president.

Biographers have hailed him as everything froma modern Cincinnatus (Garry Wills) to His Excellency (Joseph J. Ellis)to The Indispensible Man (James Thomas Flexner).

I like to think of him as ourFermier fondateur.

Thats partly because Im a farmer, too.GeorgeWashington even grew alfalfa, which is what Iraisehere in the southeastern corner ofwait for itthe state of Washington.

Retour au 18ème siècle,agriculturewas Americas top economic activity. YetWashington stood out as a pioneer.

At firsthe grew tobacco, asdidmanyof his fellowVirginians. Pourtant, il a également vu comment le tabac épuise le sol. Rather than letting fields deteriorate and moving onto other pasturesa standard practice among tobacco growers back thenWashingtonbecame an early adopter of compost. He alsobegan to use alfalfain his seven-crop rotation plan.

C'était une innovation, and it worked.Alfalfa injected nitrogen into the soil, le garder en bonne santé pour les saisons futures. Washington couldnt have explained the chemistry, but hesawthe result. Il était un agriculteur durable avant que l'agriculture durable ne soit cool.

Finalement, Washington est passé aux céréales. Ici, aussi, il a adopté de nouvelles techniques. Tourists at Mount Vernon todaycan visit a reconstruction of his 16-sidedgrange à fouler, a labor-saving machine that allowedhimto move away from threshing wheat by hand. Au lieu, horses walkedin circles and stompedthe wheat, dont les graines sont ensuite tombées à travers les lattes du plancher et dans un grenier.

Washington a également conservé de nombreux registres. Les historiens en savent beaucoup sur ce qu'il a cultivé et où il l'a cultivé, but Washington wasnt thinking about posterity. Il a étudié ses résultats, essayer toujours d'en apprendre le plus possible sur les performances des cultures et des champs. D'autres agriculteurs l'ont fait aussi, but Washington was among theearliest to expose himself to the rigor of analysis. Il essayait toujours de s'améliorer.

These same records also tell us abouthis exploitationof other people.At leastWashingtoncame to understandthe injustice ofesclavage. His will granted freedom to the African Americans he held in bondagea moral advance that too few of his countrymen followed.

Ivevisited Mount Vernonseveral times over the years. Une fois que, tôt le matin, I hada chanceto walk inside histombeau, qui est normalement derrière un portail fermé. I set my hand on his marble sarcophagusand stood there insilentawe.

I wish I could have told him how much he meant to meas a fellow farmer.Id also want him to knowhow far weve come with mechanization,genetics, and global trade.The changes would amaze him. He might marvel most of all atourability to sell what we grow tocustomersaroundthe world. TheDéclaration d'indépendance, après tout, complains about the tyranny of cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.

S'il était là maintenant, hed probably still farm.I can almost picture himdrivinga combine harvesteracrossa field of genetically modified corn or soybeans.Hed track his progress by GPS, collecte de données pour examen plus tard. Hed listen to the radio, hopeful aboutcommoditypricesandworried aboutour trade war with China.Instead of wearing a tri-corner hat, hed sport a John Deere baseball cap.

Derrière tout ça,our Founding Farmer would recognize a few things that farmers share, peu importe quand ils vivent: le désir de nouvelles technologies, le besoin de marchés stables, et un engagement pour le progrès agricole.

Cette colonne est apparue pour la première fois en février 13 atAgri-Pulse.