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What are the Different Types of Agricultural Machinery?

Agricultural machinery has revolutionized farming, offering diverse tools for every task. From tractors and plows for soil preparation to combines for harvesting, each piece plays a pivotal role. Irrigation systems and sprayers ensure crop health, while balers manage post-harvest needs. Discover how these machines work together to feed our world. What innovations will shape the future of agriculture? Join the conversation.
Felicia Dye
Felicia Dye

The growing world population means that the world’s food demands are also growing. To meet those demands, production needs to be faster and more efficient than it was in the past. Agricultural machinery, such as tractors, combine harvesters, and crop dusters, help to achieve those goals.

A tractor is typically one of the most recognized pieces of agricultural machinery. What may not be as widely recognized are the capabilities these machines have and the technology they are equipped with. A tractor’s primary purpose is to haul or pull something as part of the agricultural process. With older models, this could be a very tough job.

A farmer uses a tractor to till a field.
A farmer uses a tractor to till a field.

Tractors were once simple motorized machines with two large wheels in the back and two smaller wheels in the front. Tractors have evolved into sophisticated pieces of agricultural machinery that may not even have wheels. Some models are equipped with tracks instead, and modernized tractors may also have cabs accessorized with heated seats, automatic temperature controls, and dashboard computers.

A crop duster sprays crops with pesticides or fertilizers.
A crop duster sprays crops with pesticides or fertilizers.

Broadcast seeders are machines that can be attached to tractors to distribute seeds. These machines come in different sizes, but the larger models are generally connected so that they can draw operational power from the tractor. Seeds are placed inside the hopper, which is a funnel-type barrel that may have multiple vanes inside. There are usually rotating disks at the bottom of the machine that can be adjusted for various spread patterns.

A bale of hay produced from a hay baler.
A bale of hay produced from a hay baler.

A combine harvester is a large machine that is used to gather grains, such as wheat, barley, and corn. This piece of agricultural machinery is significant because it performs what were traditionally three separate jobs. A combine harvester chops the plants; removes the edible portion, which is the grain; and then cleans the debris from the grain. Once the combine harvester has a significant supply in it storage tank, it can easily be loaded into a truck and transported elsewhere.

Significant crop yields can be harvested in a short period of time through use of a combine harvester.
Significant crop yields can be harvested in a short period of time through use of a combine harvester.

The discarded portion of the plants that the combine harvester leaves behind can often be used for hay. The remnants of those plants are typically converted into neat bales with another piece of agricultural machinery. There are machines that produce square bales and others that produce round ones. Both types of baling machines typically employ a system of gathering and forced packing to achieve the desired shape.

On 19th century farms, a mechanical reaper would have harvested wheat or oats.
On 19th century farms, a mechanical reaper would have harvested wheat or oats.

A crop duster is agricultural aircraft that can be used to spread agricultural substances such as pesticides or fertilizer over large areas. The pilot generally flies his plane low and the substances are sprayed in streams from the wings. Not only does this method typically save time, it also averts the risk of crops being damaged by wheeled machines.

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    • A farmer uses a tractor to till a field.
      By: Valcho
      A farmer uses a tractor to till a field.
    • A crop duster sprays crops with pesticides or fertilizers.
      By: Jeffrey Banke
      A crop duster sprays crops with pesticides or fertilizers.
    • A bale of hay produced from a hay baler.
      By: Stefano Neri
      A bale of hay produced from a hay baler.
    • Significant crop yields can be harvested in a short period of time through use of a combine harvester.
      By: vschlichting
      Significant crop yields can be harvested in a short period of time through use of a combine harvester.
    • On 19th century farms, a mechanical reaper would have harvested wheat or oats.
      By: Toniflap
      On 19th century farms, a mechanical reaper would have harvested wheat or oats.