More....Leonard Julien, Sr.... inventor of the Surgarcane planting machine
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from Our Roots Run Deep - River Road African American Museum, Durant, 2002:


Necessity is the mother of invention - Aesop

Leonard Julien, Sr.

Inventor of the Sugar cane-Planting Machine

The Harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few. -Matthew 9:37

Leonard Julien, Sr., was born on January 21, 1910, in Modeste, Louisiana. He was married to Alice Gaudin Julien and they had eleven children: June, Alyce, Lois, Florence, Carlos, Ronald, Matthew, Clifford, Michael, Anthony, and Leonard Jr. Leonard Julien's great love for farming, combined with a lifelong ambition to improve agricultural production, lead to his invention of the sugarcane-planting machine in 1964.

Piror to 1964, Julien had given seriouis study to the possibility of making a sugarcane-planting machine. During the summer of 1963, he and his brother, Harold, managed to take out enough time from farming to concentrate on the project he had envisioned. Since the hand-operated planted proved too slow for the job, Julien set out to build a mechanical sugarcane planter.

In July 1964, Julien walked into the Costagnos Machine Shop and informed Mr. Wiggins that he was ready to build "an idea out of steel." This set up the framework for building the first successful mechanical sugarcane planter. The mechanical planter would be able to plant twelve acres of cane in a day, using five men, three wagons, and two tractors, in contrast to the conventional method, which used sixteen men, eight wagons, and four tractors. Said Julien, "I had always said to myself that there had to be an easier way." (Ebony Magazine, March 1976).


A Sugarcane planting machine ...source

"When I was first thinking about building the machine, I told this fellow -- a white guy -- I wanted to get me a flexible drive shaft. I didn't want to tell him what I wanted it for, so I said, I got something I'm going to need a drive shaft [for] that we can go in any direction.

He says, 'Go back there by J.B. J.B. got 'em." Well, I went back there but I didn't know what a hydraulic turbine looked like. I ain't got much education, but I've been a farmer all my life. When a man's been working with something as long as I have, it just comes natural he knows how to improve on it." (Ebony Magazine, March 1976).

After testing the planter on his 450-acre New Africa Farm in Modeste in 1965, Julien demonstrated his sugarcane-planting machine to farmers, researchers, members of the Louisiana State University Extension Service, representatives from Southern University, school children, and the public, who came to witness the use of the first successful sugarcane-planting machine.

The invention drew high praise from some three hundred spectators. According to one expert agriculturist, Author Lemann, Jr., the invention "could mean the greatest advancement in the mechanization of sugarcane farms since the mechanical harvesters were introduced.

In a real sense, the invention of the mechanical sugarcane-planting machine was a product of family efforts. Leonard Julien's brother, Harold Julien, is credited by his brother with helping with the invention. Clifford Julien, the sixteen-year-old son of Leonard Julien, also worked diligently with his father in his spare time on the invention.

Norbert Simmons, a New Orleans attorney, who represented Julien's legal interest in the invention, stated that if marketed internationally, it had a potential of significantly increasing sugar production throughout the world. With a price tag of $6,000, Julien received $1,000 royalty for each machine sold. Fewer than 150 had been built and sold at the time partly because of bootleg copies of the machine cropping up (Ebony Magazine, March 1976).


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