tractors | tillage implements | planting implements | harvesting machinery | haying equipment
Beginning in the mid-1800's, the introduction of mechanization to basic agricultural tasks greatly increased the productivity of farm, allowing a single farm to produce food for a greater number of people. Over the years continuous innovation has lead to greater power output and increased efficiency of harvesting equipment. While the trend toward larger, more powerful tractors and combines has levelled off, the 21st century has seen a trend toward smarter technology, tractors equipped with sensors or GPS location detectors to help minimize wastea and increase yield.
Major agrimachinery manufacturing firms include: John Deere, International Harvester, Massey Ferguson, New Holland, Case, Kubota, Caterpillar, and Agco.
The tractor is the mobile powerhouse of a mechanized farm - a vehicle engineered to deliver high torque at low speeds, used to pull or power a variety of implements and attachments. The modern tractor traces it's ancestry back to the massive steam-powered plowing engines of the 1850's. Tractors powered by internal combustion appeared in the 1890's but did not become a reality for the average farmer until 1917, when Henry Ford began selling his Fordson Model F, the first mass-produced tractor. By 1925, a half million Fordsons had come off the assembly line.
Today's tractors are powered almost entirely by Diesel engines, and capable of producing output greater than 540 horsepower.
Utility tractors: generally in the 20 to 160 horsepower range, for smaller tasks.
Track tractors: are equipped with tracks to increase stability and maneuverability.
Moldboard plows are designed to slice and invert a strip of sod or field. Their use has declined in recent decades due to concern they lead to excess soil erosion.
Chisel plows consist of an array of chisel points or shovel tips mounted on a frame. The plow is designed to break up compacted soil while leaving crop residue intact.
Disk harrows are used for secondary tillage and preparing a seedbed.
Drawn planters are used to plant row crops in widely-spaced rows by cutting a trench, dropping in seeds, then covering the trench. They may also be able to apply fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides.
Grain drills plant row crops in narrow rows. They are used for crops such as wheat and soybeans.
Combine harvester: combines are used to harvest corn, rice, and small grain crops. The combine cuts the crop, then proceeds to separate straw from chaff and chaff from grain.
Sugarcane harvester: engineered to top a cane stalk (removing most of the unwanted leaves), chop it into billets, then separate those billets from cane leaves and other debris.
Cotton harvester: cuts the cotton plant, removes seed and lint cotton.
Hay making equipment
Mowers cut a grass forage or legume forage crop, either with a sickle bar mechanism or a rotary mechanism.
Hay rakes gather hay into a windrow in preparation for pickup.
Windrowers or swathers: machines which combine the functions of cutting and gathering a hay crop. A self-propelled windrower cuts a wide swath of grass and outputs it as a narrow windrow.
Balers pick up hay and compress the crop into rectangular or cylindrical bales.