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Utilising traditional farming methods and tools involves setting aside current farming technology such as tractors and combines in favour of hand-powered or horse-drawn machinery. Traditional farming tools can include any number of hand tools, as well as cultivators and seeders, not to mention some types of harvesting equipment.
Ploughs or Tillage
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The earliest farm ploughs were invented by the Romans, but were in use as late as the 1800s in the form of crude metal blades affixed to crooked sticks. They might have been drawn by mules, horses, oxen or by people, and seldom did more than scratch the earth. Later ploughs and tillers incorporated heavier blades that, when dragged behind a draft animal and weighted from behind by a driver, would dig into the soil much deeper, allowing the actual turning of the soil from several inches down. Ploughed soil must be pulverised into an adequate seed bed using disk and tooth harrows.
While hand broadcasting is the earliest known (and still practised) seeding method in traditional farming, the seed drill was a revolutionary invention that sped up and perfected the process. Drawn by horses or oxen, the seed drill mechanisms are turned slowly from power from the axle, drawing seed from a hopper and depositing it into the soil. Seed drills date back to ancient Mesopotamia and were improved by British agriculturalist Jethro Tull in the early 1700s.
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Livestock manure is an important source of fertiliser even on modern farms. Modern manure spreaders are remarkably similar to the original broadcast spreaders that were invented by Joseph Oppenheimer around 1899. As the wagon is pulled, the drive chain turns a conveyor that pulls the manure toward the spinning paddle boards at the rear, which have numerous small paddles that break up and throw the manure. Until the invention of the spreader, manure was spread by hand.
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Mechanical harvesters were first used in the mid 1830s for the harvesting of grain. These machines, which can be drawn by draft animals, were preceded by hand cutting, winnowing and threshing of grain. Eventually, machines called binders were used to cut and bundle the grain stalks into bundles that were then fed through another machine called a thresher, which separated the grain from the straw and chaff. "Combines" do all three tasks at once. Modern versions of combines are similar in design to the first combines, except for being much larger and driven by engines.
- "Turn-of-the-Century Farm Tools and Implements"; Henderson & Co.; 2002
- "Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements & Antiques"; C.H. Wendel; 2004
- "Dictionary of American Hand Tools: A Pictorial Synopsis"; Alvin Sellens; 2002
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