Agricultural machinery

Agricultural machinery is machinery used in farming or other agriculture. There are many types of such equipment, from hand tools and power tools to tractors and the countless kinds of farm implements that they tow or operate. Diverse arrays of equipment are used in both organic and nonorganic farming. Especially since the advent of mechanised agriculture, agricultural machinery is an indispensable part of how the world is fed.

Lite-Trac Crop Sprayer
A British crop sprayer by Lite-Trac


The Industrial Revolution

With the coming of the Industrial Revolution and the development of more complicated machines, farming methods took a great leap forward.[1] Instead of harvesting grain by hand with a sharp blade, wheeled machines cut a continuous swath. Instead of threshing the grain by beating it with sticks, threshing machines separated the seeds from the heads and stalks. The first tractors appeared in the late 19th century.[2]

Steam power

Power for agricultural machinery was originally supplied by ox or other domesticated animals. With the invention of steam power came the portable engine, and later the traction engine, a multipurpose, mobile energy source that was the ground-crawling cousin to the steam locomotive. Agricultural steam engines took over the heavy pulling work of oxen, and were also equipped with a pulley that could power stationary machines via the use of a long belt. The steam-powered machines were low-powered by today's standards but, because of their size and their low gear ratios, they could provide a large drawbar pull. Their slow speed led farmers to comment that tractors had two speeds: "slow, and damn slow."

Internal combustion engines

The internal combustion engine; first the petrol engine, and later diesel engines; became the main source of power for the next generation of tractors. These engines also contributed to the development of the self-propelled, combined harvester and thresher, or combine harvester (also shortened to 'combine'). Instead of cutting the grain stalks and transporting them to a stationary threshing machine, these combines cut, threshed, and separated the grain while moving continuously through the field.


John Deere cotton harvester kv02
A John Deere cotton harvester at work in a cotton field.
Agricultural machinery
From left to right: John Deere 7800 tractor with Houle slurry trailer, Case IH combine harvester, New Holland FX 25 forage harvester with corn head.
A New Holland TR85 combine harvester

Combines might have taken the harvesting job away from tractors, but tractors still do the majority of work on a modern farm. They are used to push/pull implements—machines that till the ground, plant seed, and perform other tasks.

Tillage implements prepare the soil for planting by loosening the soil and killing weeds or competing plants. The best-known is the plow, the ancient implement that was upgraded in 1838 by John Deere. Plows are now used less frequently in the U.S. than formerly, with offset disks used instead to turn over the soil, and chisels used to gain the depth needed to retain moisture.

The most common type of seeder is called a planter, and spaces seeds out equally in long rows, which are usually two to three feet apart. Some crops are planted by drills, which put out much more seed in rows less than a foot apart, blanketing the field with crops. Transplanters automate the task of transplanting seedlings to the field. With the widespread use of plastic mulch, plastic mulch layers, transplanters, and seeders lay down long rows of plastic, and plant through them automatically.

After planting, other implements can be used to cultivate weeds from between rows, or to spread fertilizer and pesticides. Hay balers can be used to tightly package grass or alfalfa into a storable form for the winter months.

Modern irrigation relies on machinery. Engines, pumps and other specialized gear provide water quickly and in high volumes to large areas of land. Similar types of equipment can be used to deliver fertilizers and pesticides.

Besides the tractor, other vehicles have been adapted for use in farming, including trucks, airplanes, and helicopters, such as for transporting crops and making equipment mobile, to aerial spraying and livestock herd management.

New technology and the future

The basic technology of agricultural machines has changed little in the last century. Though modern harvesters and planters may do a better job or be slightly tweaked from their predecessors, the US$250,000 combine of today still cuts, threshes, and separates grain in the same way it has always been done. However, technology is changing the way that humans operate the machines, as computer monitoring systems, GPS locators and self-steer programs allow the most advanced tractors and implements to be more precise and less wasteful in the use of fuel, seed, or fertilizer. In the foreseeable future, there may be mass production of driverless tractors, which use GPS maps and electronic sensors.

Open source agricultural equipment

Many farmers are upset by their inability to fix the new types of high-tech farm equipment.[3] This is due mostly to companies using intellectual property law to prevent farmers from having the legal right to fix their equipment (or gain access to the information to allow them to do it).[4] In October 2015 an exemption was added to the DMCA to allow inspection and modification of the software in cars and other vehicles including agricultural machinery.[5]

The Open Source Agriculture movement counts different initiatives and organizations such as Farm Labs which is a network in Europe[6], l'Atelier Paysan which is a cooperative to teach farmers in France how to build and repair their tools [7][8], and Ekylibre which is an open-source company to provide farmers in France with open source software (SaaS) to manage farming operations.[9][8] In the United States, the MIT Media Lab's Open Agriculture Initiative seeks to foster "the creation of an open-source ecosystem of technologies that enable and promote transparency, networked experimentation, education, and hyper-local production".[10] It develops the Personal Food Computer, an educational project to create a "controlled environment agriculture technology platform that uses robotic systems to control and monitor climate, energy, and plant growth inside of a specialized growing chamber". It includes the development of Open Phenom[11], an open source library with open data sets for climate recipes which link the phenotype response of plants (taste, nutrition) to environmental variables, biological, genetic and resource-related necessary for cultivation (input).[12] Plants with the same genetics can naturally vary in color, size, texture growth rate, yield, flavor and nutrient density according to the environmental conditions in which they are produced.

See also

Notable manufacturers


  1. ^ Agricultural engineering Britannica Online. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  2. ^ Tractor (vehicle) Britannica Online. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  3. ^ "New High-Tech Farm Equipment Is a Nightmare for Farmers".
  4. ^ "We Can't Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership".
  5. ^ Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies
  6. ^ "This is the Beginning of a network of open laboratories for agricultural research and experimentation". Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  7. ^ Gaillard, Chris. "L'Atelier Paysan". L’Atelier Paysan (in French). Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  8. ^ a b Chance, Quentin; Meyer, Morgan (2017-06-06). "L'agriculture libre. Les outils agricoles à l'épreuve de l'open source". Techniques & Culture. Revue semestrielle d’anthropologie des techniques (in French) (67): 236–239. ISSN 0248-6016.
  9. ^ "Ekylibre". Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  10. ^ "Group Overview ‹ Open Agriculture (OpenAg)". MIT Media Lab. Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  11. ^ "Project Overview ‹ Open Phenome Project". MIT Media Lab. Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  12. ^ "recipe:start [OpenAg]". Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  13. ^ "Major players operating in the global agricultural tractors market include CNH Industrial N.V., AGCO Corporation, Deere & Company, CLAAS KGaA GmbH, Mahindra & Mahindra India Limited, Kubota Corporation, Escorts Limited, Caterpillar, Inc., J.C. Bamford Excavators Limited (JCB), Yanmar Co., Ltd., Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited (TAFE), and SDF Group". Retrieved 2019-04-18.

External links

Agricultural aircraft

An agricultural aircraft is an aircraft that has been built or converted for agricultural use - usually aerial application of pesticides (crop dusting) or fertilizer (aerial topdressing); in these roles they are referred to as "crop dusters" or "top dressers". Agricultural aircraft are also used for hydroseeding.

The most common agricultural aircraft are fixed-wing, such as the Air Tractor, Cessna Ag-wagon, Gippsland GA200, Grumman Ag Cat, PZL-106 KRUK, M-18 Dromader, PAC Fletcher, Piper PA-36 Pawnee Brave, Embraer EMB 202 Ipanema, and Rockwell Thrush Commander but helicopters are also used.

Generally agricultural aircraft have piston or turboprop engines. The only known exception is the Polish PZL M-15 Belphegor which has a jet engine.


An aquamog is a machine for removing weeds growing over a body of water. An aquamog was used in 2018 for removing water primrose from North Lake in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. A newspaper photo shows a machine similar to a backhoe on very wide crawlers.Aquatic Environments, a Concord, California contractor, used an aquamog to scoop up muck at the Palace of Fine Arts lagoon, in a project expected to take 26 days.The name aquamog was derived from the multi-purpose vehicle Unimog produced by Mercedes Benz.

Auger (drill)

An auger is a drilling device, or drill bit, that usually includes a rotating helical screw blade called a "flighting" to act as a screw conveyor to remove the drilled out material. The rotation of the blade causes the material to move out of the hole being drilled.


Claas is an agricultural machinery manufacturer founded in 1913, based in Harsewinkel, Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Germany, in the state of North Rhine Westphalia. The product range includes combine harvesters, forage harvesters, balers, mowers, rakes, tractors, tedders and other harvesting machines. Claas produced its 450,000th machine in 2013.

Deutz AG

Deutz AG is an internal combustion engine manufacturer, based in Porz, Cologne, Germany.

Diana (agricultural machinery)

Diana (Διάνα) is the brand name for agricultural machinery produced by Irene Chrissadakou A.E. a company located in Tavros (Athens), Greece. Founded in 1976, it is one of the most successful in its field, also managing to survive the crisis in Greek manufacturing industry of the 1980s and 1990s.

Diana has produced a wide range of machinery and accessories. Between 1979 and 1984 it developed and produced a type of light truck in "open" and "closed" cab versions, 18 hp Ruggerini Diesel engine, max speed 67 km/h, 1 ton payload and cross-country capability, as well as a number of light tractor models.

Drawbar (haulage)

A drawbar is a solid coupling between a hauling vehicle and its hauled load. Drawbars are in common use with rail transport, road trailers, both large and small, industrial and recreational, and with agricultural equipment.


Heavy Equipment Production Company (HEPCO) is an Iranian corporation that manufactures construction equipment, agricultural machinery, railroad cars, trucks and the equipment of oil, gas, energy, metal and mining industries in Arak, HEPCO is the largest heavy equipment manufacturer in the Middle East. This company has 1,500 employees with an annual production capacity of 4,800 units.

List of agricultural machinery

Agricultural equipment is any kind of machinery used on a farm to help with farming. The best-known example of this kind is the tractor.


Matbro was a brand of lifting equipment, popular with farmers. Matbro produced a wide range of all terrain forklifts and telescopic handlers in their distinctive yellow livery, using engines derived from Ford and Perkins. Matbro began operating at a loss in the late 1990s and in the end went under in 2003 after accounting issues in their parent company Powerscreen. The old designs were then sold to the tractor company John Deere. which sub-licensed them to heavy lifting company Terex, who continued to evolve the designs, with new ideas such as side mounted engines instead of rear ones and hydrostatic drive.

McCulloch Motors Corporation

McCulloch Motors Corporation is an American manufacturer of chainsaws and other outdoor power tools. The company was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1943 by Robert Paxton McCulloch as a manufacturer of small two-stroke gasoline engines and introduced its first chainsaw in 1948, the Model 5-49. McCulloch and its brand are owned by Husqvarna.

Mechanised agriculture

Mechanised agriculture is the process of using agricultural machinery to mechanise the work of agriculture, greatly increasing farm worker productivity. In modern times, powered machinery has replaced many farm jobs formerly carried out by manual labour or by working animals such as oxen, horses and mules.

The entire history of agriculture contains many examples of the use of tools, such as the hoe and the plough. The ongoing integration of machines since the Industrial Revolution however has allowed farming to become much less labour-intensive.

Current mechanised agriculture includes the use of tractors, trucks, combine harvesters, countless types of farm implements, aeroplanes and helicopters (for aerial application), and other vehicles. Precision agriculture even uses computers in conjunction with satellite imagery and satellite navigation (GPS guidance) to increase yields.

Mechanisation was one of the large factors responsible for urbanisation and industrial economies. Besides improving production efficiency, mechanisation encourages large scale production and sometimes can improve the quality of farm produce. On the other hand, it can displace unskilled farm labour and can cause environmental degradation (such as pollution, deforestation, and soil erosion), especially if it is applied shortsightedly rather than holistically.

Ministry of Agricultural Machine Building

The Ministry of Agricultural Machine Building (Minselmash; Russian: Министерство сельскохозяйственного машиностроения СССР) was a government ministry in the Soviet Union. It was charged with the manufacture of agricultural vehicles and tractors and other machines related to the agricultural industry.


In agriculture, a plowshare (US) or ploughshare (UK; ) is a component of a plow (or plough). It is the cutting or leading edge of a moldboard which closely follows the coulter (one or more ground-breaking spikes) when plowing.

The plowshare itself is often a hardened blade dressed into an integral moldboard (by the blacksmith) so making a unified combination of plowshare and moldboard, the whole being responsible for entering the cleft in the earth (made by the coulter's first cutting-through) and turning the earth over.

In well-tilled terrain the plowshare may do duty without a preceding coulter.

In modern plows both coulter and plowshare are detachable for easy replacement when worn or broken.

Tractor, timber and agricultural machinery in the Soviet Union

Agricultural engineering in the Soviet Union - Soviet machine building industry.


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