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Journal Article

Tractor Versus Horse as a Source of Farm Power

Naum Jasny
The American Economic Review
Vol. 25, No. 4 (Dec., 1935), pp. 708-723
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1807806
Page Count: 16

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Topics: Farm tractors, Horses, Labor costs, Variable costs, Labor, Crops, Prices, Wages, Farms, Total costs
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Tractor Versus Horse as a Source of Farm Power
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Abstract

A comparison of the effectiveness of tractors and horses as the source of farm power must take into consideration the variation in the proportion of fixed charges to total cost, particularly the number of hours that horse power is used during the year. Where horses are used little during the year, tractor power frequently is cheaper than horse power, even if prices of feed and horses are relatively lower than the prices of fuel and tractors. The reverse situation often occurs where the annual work per horse is large. Thus, the annual work per horse becomes a more important factor than the relation of the cost of feed and horses to the cost of fuel and tractors. The saving on labor which can be made by operating tractors instead of horses is significant in inducing farmers to shift to tractor power. The variations in the amount of this saving, however, frequently are not as wide as are the variations in the annual work per horse. Hence the saving on labor is of less importance than the variations in the annual amount of work per horse in determining the differences in the profitability of tractors. The same pertains to the other factors affecting the variations in the utilization of tractors (size of farms, seasonal distribution of power and labor requirements, skill of tractor operators, topography, soil, etc.).

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