Presumably, farmers adopted when the perceived benefits exceed the perceived costs. How does the above compare to a more recent farm technology? Biotechnology. Here is data from the USDA
What it took a half a century for the tractor to do, herbicide tolerant (HT) soybeans did in less than a decade.
Apparently, from the farmers' perspectives, the tractor wasn’t as compelling better than the mule (all factors considered) as was HT soybeans over conventional soybeans!
There are, of course, many reasons for the difference, but they do cast a lot of doubt on the presumption and claims of many anti-biotech advocates that farmers don't perceive themselves better off with the new technology. Would many be willing to make the claim that, despite their revealed preference as exhibited in their adoption behavior, that farmers perceived themselves (or actually were) worse off with the tractor than they were the mule? Then, how can that sort of claim be leveled at farmers adoption biotechnology?