The development of the moldboard plow facilitated the inversion and burial of layers of surface vegetation (grass, weeds, cereal stubble), exposing a virgin soil surface which could then be further broken down into a fine seed bed by draft or power driven tined implements. The development of the multi-furrow moldboard plow powered by high-speed tractors underscores the high productivity of modern mechanization systems as compared to the single furrow plow drawn by a slow moving draft animal.
Carrying loads is the earliest use of domesticated work animals, even preceding tillage. Shifts to animal-drawn sleds or carts follow, especially when marketed quantities increase. The cart and plow are the basic farmer-owned implements of early animal-drawn mechanization.
Even though bioethanol is an outstanding renewable engine fuel, it is more suited to Otto gasoline (petrol) than to farm diesel engines. Electricity may be generated from a range of renewable sources including wind, wave, hydro and biomass, but on-farm generation is unlikely except on a small-scale or on the basis of specialized energy or wind-power farms.The choice or selection of agricultural equipment is dictated by a multiplicity of factors including the nature and size of the enterprise, the profitability and access to finance, the economic status of the region, the accessibility to a range of equipment options at local level, the ownership (individual, shared or cooperative) of equipment and access to mechanization contractors.Livestock production, which not so long ago depended primarily on the pitchfork and scoop shovel, now uses many complicated and highly sophisticated machines for handling water, feed, bedding, and manure, as well as for the many special operations involved in producing milk and eggs.
However, although the renewable alcohols can be produced from agricultural byproducts (cereal straw, sugarcane bagasse) the economics are even more unfavorable given the complex manufacturing process that includes fermentation and distillation.