Official State of Iowa Website Here is how you know
State Historical Society of Iowa

Gulls Following a Farmer on his Tractor, Date Unknown

    Download Image Resource

An adult man is seen driving a tractor, turned to look across the plowed field that he has just worked over.  Many seagulls are seen flying overhead and some are landing on the freshly turned soil.
Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa, Date Unknown


One of the things that has not changed about growing corn is the kind of work that happens. In the spring, farmers prepare the soil and plant the corn seeds. At the time of this photograph, many farmers used a plow to turn the soil over before they planted the seeds. Turning over the soil with a plow blade broke up the grass roots and made it easier for the corn seeds to sprout. Today, many farmers no longer do this because it can cause the topsoil to wash away in the sun, wind and rain.  

Source-Dependent Questions

  • Compare the working conditions of this Iowa farmer from about 1940 with the working conditions of farmers today. What is the same, and what is different?
  • Why would seagulls love farmers who are plowing their fields before they plant them? (Hint: They are round, wiggle through the dirt and are mighty tasty to a seagull.)