Because the direct effects of mechanization on yields are small, however, any effect of subsidies on agricultural output must be an indirect one that arises from the cost reduction made possible by machines. But when mechanization is not spontaneously driven by some form of labor scarcity, the impact on production costs is not large; the output effects of subsidies therefore cannot be large either. When mechanization is caused by subsidies, reductions in the agricultural work force can be substantial. Among the stationary sources, water was first used for milling, pounding, and grinding in the first century B.C. in China. Water-powered milling was also invented in France in the fourth century A.D., though not until the twelfth century was it adopted throughout Europe. Wind power has historically been used almost exclusively for milling and for lifting small amounts of water. Mills and threshers were the most common users of steam power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in both Europe and the United States.
Again, technological ineptitude in Japan cannot have been the cause for such long delays. Practical development of horse-drawn harvesting combines started in the 1860s in California, where labor was extremely scarce. The aggregate Indian data in table 9 hide these facts because animals continue to be used for other work, even in Punjab, and because many other regions have not yet shifted massively to tractor plowing or mechanical threshing. In the case of threshers, adoption cycles have always been fairly short. Once locally adapted designs are available, the cost advantage seems to be overwhelming.
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