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This article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (October 2008) ‹ The template below (Expand) is being deleted. See templates for discussion for the discussion that led to this result. › Please help improve this article by expanding it. Further information might be found on the talk page. (November 2009) A German combine harvester Agricultural machinery is machinery used in the operation of an agricultural area or farm. Contents 1 History 1.1 The Industrial Revolution 1.2 Steam power 1.3 Internal combustion engines 2 Types 3 New technology and the future 4 See also 5 External links // History The Industrial Revolution With the coming of the Industrial Revolution and the development of more complicated machines, farming methods took a great leap forward. 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. Steam power Power for agricultural machinery was originally supplied by horses 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 horses, 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 darn 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. Types A 1963 Ford 600 farm truck 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 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 Though modern harvesters and planters will do a better job than their predecessors, the combine of today still cuts, threshes, and separates grain in essentially 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, some agricultural machines will be capable of driving themselves, using GPS maps and electronic sensors to become agricultural robots. Even more esoteric are the new areas of nanotechnology and genetic engineering, where submicroscopic devices and biological processes may be used as machines to perform agricultural tasks. See also Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Agricultural machines List of agricultural machinery Mechanised agriculture External links Agricultural machinery in Argentina. Hay Harvesting in the 1940s instructional films, Center for Digital Initiatives, University of Vermont Library Agricultural Machinery on Mascus: New and used Agricultural Machinery Economic Situation of the agricultural machinery sector - VDMA Report