Charles Noble: Agriculture and Agri-business
Charles Noble was a famous Alberta farmer and inventor. He moved to Claresholm, Alberta in 1903 from the United States.
During the 1930s, farming in Alberta was very different than it is today. Instead of relying on a variety of mechanized farm implements (combines, tractors), most work was done manually. To do work manually means to do it by hand. After the First World War, crop prices were low and the prairies were in the middle of a bad drought. It may have been these problems that led Charles Noble to begin experimenting with new farming methods, and eventually create the Noble Blade. Charles didn’t know it at the time, but his invention would revolutionize the world of farming.
Charles was born in State Center, Iowa in 1873, the oldest of six boys. He proved to be an entrepreneur at an early age, taking vegetables from the family garden and selling them around the neighbourhood to supplement the family grocery fund. When Charles was eight his mother passed away and he was sent to live with neighbours, exchanging farm work for room and board. At the age of fifteen, Charles left school to join his father so they could work to support the family. A couple of years later, he bought a team of horses and used them to deliver wood, hay and straw. A year after that, Noble and his brother Newell bought a thresher. At twenty-three years of age, fulfilling a long-held dream, Noble obtained a 160-acre homestead in Knox, North Dakota. This was only the beginning of what promised to become a lifelong pursuit.
Charles moved to Alberta in 1902, got married, and bought 4000 acres of land to farm. He loved farming, but Charles was also a soil conservationist. Far ahead of his time, he realized that steps had to be taken to ensure the land was used to produce the most food without harming the soil. He pursued crop farming success, but was careful not to ignore its toll on the land.
It was right around this time the crops yielded from his land began to break world records. In 1912, Noble was recognized as World Flax King and in 1915, he was given the title of World Oats King. His record breaking crops were the result of a careful seed selection process he developed.
Over the next few years Charles and other farmers experienced problems with crops, and prices in the markets. Noble lost his farm and all his equipment, but worked hard to buy it all back. In 1936 Noble came upon his idea for the Noble blade cultivator.
Touted as one of the most important agricultural inventions of the 20th century, it was, essentially, a heavy steel sub-soil blade that cut weeds off at the roots without disturbing the surface of the ground. Noble arrived at the idea while vacationing in California one winter. He witnessed the harvesting of beets and carrots using a machine that undercut the vegetables without damaging the surface soil. Believing the same principle could be implemented on a larger scale, Noble set to work on the invention. When he returned home for the season, he was pulling a trailer with the twelve foot blade.
The Noble Blade was in production for just over a year before other cultivators hit the market with new and improved models. In the early 1950s, Charles and his wife Margaret, who suffered from diabetes, moved to Lethbridge to ensure she would have better access to the medical care she required. She died in December 1955.
Charles, who had been ill from leukemia for approximately four years prior to his death, passed away in July 1957. He was 84.
For more information on the Noble Blade please click the following link: The Noble Blade
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