"In the 50s and 60s [it was] basically nitrogen. I mean that was about it. If you could get nitrogen on that was kind of an innovative thing, to start putting some nitrogen on. Then we could increase the yields – [from] 30 to 40 bushel corn, all of a sudden now we're going to get 80 to 90 bushel corn. I mean, that was a great! We had so many great things. We had fertilizer, hybridization of seed corn, then all of a sudden irrigation. So, we didn't always have to depend on Mother Nature. And so we had – There was three tools right there. And then you throw in herbicide.
     "Man, then all of a sudden we've created a glut of supply and didn't have the demand for it. Then we started going to overseas markets and creating demand. I mean it's been a big process, but sometimes we created some problems. We've done such a good job of production, we created some nightmares for marketing and making sure there is demand for the products…
     "Like I can remember when Dad started out, anhydrous ammonia was, that as the basic fertilizer. That was a gas. There was some element of danger. It would burn you. Anhydrous ammonia had affiliation for moisture. If it got in your eyes it took the moisture out of your eyes, your hands, your skin. So, it burned. And it used to be you had a little applicator bar that had a little tank on it. And you backed up to a bigger tank, and you bled this from one tank to the another. And I remember Dad driving off one day and forgetting to unhook one of the hoses. It was supposed to have a safety coupler. There was like 1,000 gallons anhydrous ammonia. The hose went round and round. Well, within about a 100-foot radius, it just burned everything there, every kind of foliage there for a year. Well, so I was around the anhydrous ammonia enough to know that that wasn't what I wanted to get into."

Paul Underwood – Fertilizer


Other Excerpts from Paul Underwood’s Interview:

Cold War on the Farm
One-Room Schools
TV Dinners
Pesticides & Fertilizers