The light bulb, the internet, the telephone; all inventions and innovations everyone would agree were pretty significant!! But what about the world of farming? How has this changed over the years? Farming was once an industry where practically everything was done by hands, yet nowadays it is extremely machine intensive. This alone tells you that there have been some crucial innovations over the years. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant inventions in farm machinery over the past couple of centuries…
Let’s begin by rolling the clock right back to 1793 when the cotton gin was invented. During the colonial period, cotton cloth was a lot more expensive in comparison to the likes of wool or linen. The reason for this was because it was very tough to separate the seeds from the clinging fibers. Thus, in the 1790s Eli Whitney revolutionized the industry by constructing a machine that incorporated a row of close-set wheels boasting saw-like tooth around their perimeters which protruded through narrow slits. This had the benefit of catching the cotton fibers and pulling them through the slits which were not wide enough for the seeds to pass through with it. This resulted in cotton going from being very expensive to very cheap because the process was sped up monumentally.
Combined harvester – thresher
Let’s jump forward now to 1834 when the first combined harvester-thresher was built. This fantastic farming innovation was constructed by Hiram Moore. As you may have gathered by the name; this machine was designed in order to successfully cut and thresh grain. Although extremely different from the machine developed in 1834, combine harvesters are now on the most important labor-saving inventions used in farming today.
Prior to the gasoline tractor, there were steam tractors and before this, a lot of machinery was horse-drawn. However, in the 1890s there came the invention of the gasoline tractor. This was extremely welcomed because steam tractors were quite frankly far too much effort. They required a huge amount of coal, water and either wood or straw for fuel purposes. And that is without even mentioning the need for a trained engineer in order to operate the steam tractors. The first commercial tractor was actually constructed by Charles City although John Forelich is credited with inventing the first successful one in 1892. Of course, the early tractor was not the most reliable machine in the world, yet give or take 30 years and they were extremely popular and much improved.
Finally, rubber tires were a massive innovation in the world of farming. Prior to their invention, steel lugged wheels were the norm on the likes of new and used trucks and other machines. However, these were largely inefficient as they limited speed, shook bolts loose, vibrated and when they spun they rapidly dug into the soft ground too. This caused many issues. However, in 1920 sold rubber tires began to be fitted to industrial tractors – which is one of the reasons why they surged in popularity as mentioned in the previous paragraph. In 1928 advancements were taken further with large truck tires. And then in 1932 Allis-Chalmers’ equipped a tractor with a pair of Firestone 48 x 12 airplane tires. These were a huge hit!
To conclude, it is clear to see that there have been lots of great progressions in farming!