The History Of Tractors In Modern Agriculture | Agriculture

Tractors have a rich history around the world as one of the best and most well-used tools of modern man. In this article, we delve briefly into the history of farming and some of the early tools then get into the origin of tractors and how they quickly revolutionized agriculture.The history of tractors in agriculture is a long and storied one. There’s a lot to it that most people may not know. Sure, many of us have played with tractors as kids and we know that they’re used in farming. But if you didn’t grow up in a rural environment, you might not be familiar with just how important they are in growing most of the food we eat.Early on in colonial times in the United States of America, the most important things to a farmer was his oxen and/or horses. Oxen were pretty much the original tractors going back through history. Farmers have always needed to till the ground to keep it fertile and to sow seeds. The best tool for that job was a beast of burden like an oxen or a horse. Sure, a farmer could do it himself with a hand plough, but that’s extremely strenuous work and takes a long time. So, until tractors were invented, beasts were the main tool for farming.


While horses worked OK for pulling plows behind them, oxen were much better and valued more in purely agricultural terms. Oxen are stronger than horses and can pull more weight. Horses do a fine job but sometimes can founder a bit if they get worked too hard after a long layoff. Oxen can pretty much just get up and go.As trains and methods of steam technology grew, we began to invent machines that could do the work of our beasts of burden. The first of these were called traction engines. These were immensely heavy steam-powered machines that moved slowly. They were also referred to as road locomotives. Some of them weren’t even self-propelled but instead were hauled to a location (sometimes by oxen or horse). These type of traction engines could be the source of energy to power things like a wheat thresher or do other similar farming tasks.But these traction engines were slow, clunky, and due to their weight didn’t function very well on rich, tilled farm soil. They would sink right into the ground despite having huge spikes on their iron wheels for better traction. Traction engines didn’t last long.Luckily technology continued to advance and we got what is known today as the modern-day tractor. Steam power quickly gave way to the more powerful internal combustion engine. Tractors could be made much lighter than a traction engine and quickly gained acceptance among farmers everywhere, although some still used oxen and horses, even alongside their tractors. Whatever could get the job done to pull heavy equipment through soil would win out. Slowly, the price of tractors dropped and the amount of horsepower they could output continued to climb. This combined with the huge amount of horsepower they could output made oxen and horses essentially obsolete – at least in terms of pulling things like plows around a farm.Farm equipment dealers soon arose and tractor sales quickly increased. Soon the tractor became an indispensable part of agricultural life. Perhaps this is why so many of us have a strong affinity for antique tractors and collect things like toy John Deere tractors. They were such an integral part of our transformation into modern society and we relied on them so much that we look back on them with fondness. Certainly the John Deere brand carries weight with many people for this reason.


Tractors have become an indispensable part of modern agriculture. Today they have GPS guidance and using things like AutoTrac guidance technology can have crops in almost perfectly straight lines. Farmers can even plot out things like a corn maze and expertly cut a swath in intricate patterns. They can even farm all night long and illuminate entire fields with their huge halogen lights. We’ve certainly come a long way from tiny hand ploughs. So for every bite of farm-grown food we take, we should give thanks to the humble modern marvel known as the tractor!

What Is the Role of Trickle Drip Irrigation in Desert Agriculture? | Agriculture

Irrigation – “the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil.” The first signs of irrigation, and therefore agriculture, appeared about 10,000 years ago, and the infancy of trickle drip irrigation about 6000 BC. Before this, humans were Hunter Gatherers, collecting their food from what they would find around them. Often, these people were nomadic, following the game and the plant growth which were, in turn, following the seasons. Although there are still some hunter-gatherer societies to be found today, the vast majority of the world’s population now relies on farming and agriculture for its sustenance.According to the United States Geological Survey, nearly 60% of the world’s fresh water, drawn from wells, rivers, or lakes, goes toward the irrigation of crops for both humans and animals. As the worlds population explodes past 7 billion, the need for quality food is growing. This is putting a burden on the world’s water supply. According to the Food and Water Watch Foundation, there are 1.4 billion people living without clean drinking water. How can we justify many of the present irrigation practices where so much fresh water is wasted through evaporation and runoff?


As early as 6000BC, many societies were using irrigation, often based on flooding during the rainy season, and harvesting water during the rest of the year. Archaeology has shown that Pre-Columbian America, sub-Saharan Africa, Persia (modern day Iran), Egypt, and China, to name just a few, were developing water catchment systems, building dams and expansive networks of irrigation canals as far back as 4000-6000BC. The first evidence of the use of drip irrigation was also found around this time period. Clay pots were buried in the ground and filled with water, which would slowly seep into the surrounding soils where crops were planted.Modern trickle drip irrigation had its infancy in 1866, when Afghanistan farmers and researchers started using clay pipes for both irrigation and drainage. Although a professor at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, E.B. House, experimented with applying water directly to the roots of plants as early as 1913, he came to the conclusion that this system was too expensive, and the practice went by the wayside. With the invention of plastic pipe, things began to change. By the 1960s, soaker hoses and drip tape were being used, but had the problem of clogging rapidly from the minerals in the water. Ironically, the driest places on earth, which need drip irrigation the most, tend to have the hardest water, containing the most minerals which, in turn, clog the system.With the invention of the sprinkler in the 1930s, farming and agriculture took on a whole new aspect. Now vast areas of dry prairie could be planted with a variety of water-hungry crops. With the advent of Center Pivot Irrigation, even more land was being irrigated above ground, where evaporation and wind carry off a large percentage of the water before it reaches the roots. Who has not looked out a plane window while flying across barren land, only to see hundreds or thousands of perfectly round circles of bright green, only to wonder at the amount of water it must have taken to accomplish this feat.Arguably, the most valuable innovation in modern agriculture has been the perfection of the drip irrigation system. Although the most efficient form of trickle drip irrigation is the underground emitter, there are some applications which require micro-spray heads. As farming techniques evolve, and the water supply dwindles, the underground systems could very well take over completely. To be able to deliver water to the roots, the only part of the plant which needs moisture, would result in a huge water savings. It is estimated that traditional forms of irrigation are only 30-40% efficient. In today’s era of droughts, climate change, and population growth, wasting even one quart of water is a travesty; and the situation is only getting more dire each year.


Whereas trickle drip irrigation was once considered to be important only for desert agriculture, it is gaining popularity in semi arid and sub humid zones as well. For those parts of the earth blessed with an abundance of moisture, especially rain during the growing season, this is not an issue; since this zone is but a fraction of the total arable land on the planet, then drip is the what will make or break farming and agriculture now, and in the future. There may be some drawbacks to drip irrigation such as clogging of tubes, degradation of plastic in the sun, and initial costs, but the benefits far outweigh those disadvantages.