Fendt 936, Big Showpull | Tractor Pulling

Fendt 936, Big Showpull | Tractor Pulling

Steam engines were widely used for only about fifty years between 1870 and 1920. After 1900 they were rapidly displaced by internal combustion engines and electric motors. Tractors came into widespread use in North America after about 1920, but coexisted with horses for roughly twenty-five to thirty years. Except for Great Britain, where tractors began to be adopted in the 1930s, the tractorization of European and Japanese agriculture was delayed until about 1955, after which it happened very quickly.

Mechanical threshing based on human power, but especially on horses, became widespread in the United States and Britain as early as 1830. By 1850 virtually all grain in the United States was threshed by large mechanical threshers, which went from farm to farm during the winter months. Rental markets were extensive.

However, the social impact of the consequential rural depopulation has not been adequately addressed. The second most important advance in technology has been the ready availability of rural electricity to power a multiplicity of items of farm equipment including lighting, heating, ventilation, milking, pumping, drying, milling, conveying and mixing. Furthermore, the automation of both mechanically and electrically powered equipment is now a dominant feature of mechanization developments in the developed regions and will inevitably impact to an increasing extent on the developing regions as labor costs increase. The rapid penetration of telecommunication and information technologies will provide a further layer of sophistication to the mechanization capability and strategies in agriculture.
It is well recognized that the selection of equipment is only the beginning of appropriate machinery management (see also, Agricultural Equipment: Choice and Operation). For example, the operation of the individual pieces of equipment must be coordinated properly in order to enhance productivity and efficiency. Another trend is precision agriculture (Figure 1), where state-of-the-art control and automation technology can be used to apply the optimum amount of seeds, water, fertilizers and pesticides to maximize economic return and minimize environmental damage. Maintaining working conditions and optimal performance of agricultural equipment is of vital importance in agricultural and food production due to the timeliness factor.Even in countries where farming is beginning to be mechanized, power tillers and tractors are still restricted to tillage and a few other operations. This paper discusses the history of mechanization, the major reasons for the wide diversity observed, the options for developing countries in extending mechanization, and the role of government policy in influencing the choice of technology.

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Until the 1950s mechanization played only a minor role. The emphasis on biological technology was supported by conscious government choice: in the late nineteenth century Japan imported machinery from the United States, but did not find it useful. It then hired biologists from Germany to assist in developing its biological research program, which was successful. The United States, however, emphasized mechanical technology even before 1880. Although publicly funded biological research was initiated in the 1870s, it did not produce big increases in yields until about 1930, well after the major land frontiers had been closed and mechanization was far advanced.

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