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Tractors started a new era in the farming industry: mechanization. The History of modern agricultural machinery begins with the industrial era. Generally used to pull and action various stationary tools, the word tractor literally means "traction machine". The first tractor was used in replacement of animals in 1889. Direct descendants of steam locomotives, the first tractors appeared in the early nineteenth century in rural Europe and North America.
Tractors are involved in various tasks that mainly include construction, agriculture, earth moving and landscaping maintenance.
When we think about tractors, we usually imagine a tractor with wheels of different sizes. This size difference is explained by a better weight distribution when towing heavy loads. If the front and rear wheels of agricultural tractors were identical, there would be a risk that the front wheels were lifted up to lose contact with the ground.
Various technical improvements have succeeded in the early twentieth century: first crawler tractors in 1904, first baler operator in 1906 and first vehicle frame of cast iron. In 1924, the Farmhall tractor was the first multipurpose vehicle. The three important dates of the innovations for agricultural tractors are:
- 1912: four-wheel tractor
- 1935: diesel, by International Harvester
- 1939: elevator mechanic (Case)
- 1939: hydraulic lift, PTO and three point hitch (Ford)
Farms tractors are equipped with wheels or tracks and have 3 main functions in agricultural work and forestry:
- Towing trailers and machinery such as plows and sprayers
- Support accessories or equipment at the front (shovels, forks…) or back (shredders, harrows….)
- Provide energy to agricultural machinery
Thanks to those improvements, farmers’ back-breaking work got reduced, productivity has soared and rural landscape has changed. Tractors and Agricultural machines have quickly become essential tools. In fact, could you imagine our countryside without those devices: Rural and agricultural machinery are now inseparable.
The 20th century experienced a profound development of agriculture and in this revolution the tractor has played a key role.
This vehicle can be opened or topped by a cab in which the driver sits. Modern tractors are often real technological jewels, increasingly electronic. Cabins are comfortable, equipped with air-conditioning and are fully computerized giving farmers the possibility to analyze the soil, optimize routes and planting. Most tractors use a manual transmission and have several ranges of speed that can work at low speed or up to 40 km/h on the road. Some models may be specialized such as orchard or vineyard tractors. This versatile machine is however challenged by the development of specialized self-propelled machines.
Different manufacturers share the tractor market. These include: Massey Ferguson, Fendt, Valtra, Case IH, Claas, John Deere and so on.
There are several types of agricultural tractors, some dedicated to specific.
• The agricultural tractor
• The Orchard tractor: they are leaner than farm tractors and have a lower cabin not to touch the branches of trees.
• The Vineyard tractor: even thinner than the orchard tractor, to pass between the vines
• The Straddle tractor: Used in viticulture tractors are high as the name implies to go over cultures.
• The Forestry tractor: dedicated to the care of the forests.
• The mini tractors: they are less potent but have the same functions as tractors.
Tractors for construction are a little different. Road tractors, also known as tractors, trucks resemble. The difference is that a truck brings a trailer while a tractor has a trailer.
One of the leading manufacturers of tractors is Caterpillar.
In the field of agricultural tractors, the main manufacturers are:
- John Deere tractors
- Case IH tractors
- New Holland tractors
- Massey ferguson
- Claas tractors
All have great experience and a good reputation. Competition and the race for innovations is hard but provides continuous improvements to tractors.. Some farm tractors have over 500 horsepower. One of the current challenges is to reduce gasoline consumption to protect the environment. After the steam engine tractor, the internal combustion engine, gasoline tractors, the future will tell us what the new developments in agricultural tractors will be.