Introduction to Farm Machinery

Published: 21st September 2007
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Farm machinery has changed the very nature of farming. The types and functions of farm machinery have been evolving since the first human gave up hunting and turned to the soil.

When our early ancestors gave up the hunting and gathering lifestyle and turned to growing food from the soil, they most likely did so with no help from tools. At the most, they used sticks and their bare hands. When they developed crude plows and scythes, these tools dominated farming for centuries. Although today, the Industrial Revolution has changed the nature of farming, the types and functions of farm machinery are still related to the same tasks that needed to be performed by these early agricultural pioneers.

Although machinery has changed the nature of farming greatly and has freed the majority of the population from its demands to seek other employment, the same process is used as was always used. The ground has to be cleared and plowed so it can receive the seeds. The seeds have to be planted. The crops have to be irrigated. Eventually, the crops must be harvested and finally, they must be prepared either for market or for use.

You can basically divide farm machinery into different types based on these farming functions. The one exception is the tractor. The tractor has replaced the horse as the main farming aid and is more a general purpose tool. The tractor is used to pull the other types of machinery and so it fits into many different function groups.

Most other farm machinery can be grouped by function. Plows and chisel plows still clear and turn the earth to prepare it to receive the seeds. Giant pumps and portable irrigation machines provide water where needed. Harvesters and combines cut the crop. Balers prepare it for transport or storage. Threshers also have a crop preparation function.

The use of modern farm machinery has changed the face of farming in the last hundred years. As farm machinery grew larger and more capable of performing massive amounts of work quickly, fewer humans were needed to produce the food needed by the population. Today, less than 2% of the population is actively engaged in farming, but they produce more food than the other 98% needs to survive. Although the types, and the size and capacity for work, of farm machinery is still rapidly evolving, the functions remain basically the same. Farmers are still coaxing food from the earth, they are just doing it faster, easier, and more efficiently with machinery.

Aazdak Alisimo writes about farm supply issues for FarmSupplyandMachinery.com.


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