National Geographic : 1975 Jul
inflation. Almost simultaneously, world fertilizer use outpaced pro duction, and soaring oil prices idled tractors and irrigation pumps in the neediest nations. Suddenly and omi nously, mankind found itself living hand to mouth, and world food re serves precariously low. Loser in a gamble with weather, a Texas farmer plows under 1,200 acres of wheat that withered dur ing the 1974 drought. Earphones soothe him with music in the en closed cab of his tractor. With such machines, abundant use of fertilizer, and the wonders wrought by agricultural research, U. S. farmers-less than one per cent of the world total-in a nor mal year raise 15 percent of all food. An automobile bumper sticker (top) reflects a conscious ness of their role.