Only with mass production being aided by modern technology and intensive marketing can the agriculturist exploit both the domestic market as well as the international market to the fullest extent. The volume of production depends not only on the capital investments and marketing strategies but also on the technical capacity used during the production and processing stage.
In fact, technology has come to play a very significant role even in marketing these days. Technology is absolutely critical to the agro industry be it at the primary (production), secondary (processing) or tertiary (marketing and packaging) stage. Experts have always suggested that agricultural technology could play a vital role in addressing the issues and concerns relating to the conservation and management of rural resources.
Technologies. Plough (also ‘plow’)
Ploughing is the first preparation for planting.
The plough is primarily designed to prepare the ground for cultivation by turning it over, thus burying the weeds and loosening the earth. It is generally agreed by historians that the earliest implement used for cultivation was probably a crude pointed bent stick or tree branch which was used to stir the soil surface. In effect, a hand held hoe was used in which the user scratched at the earth to form a tilth where corn could be sown. Over a period of time, these hand held hoes soon developed into simple ploughs. These primitive ploughs were eventually pulled by animals like oxen, camels and even elephants. Animals enabled the land to be tilled more easily and faster; thus more food was produced. The credit for this innovation goes to the Egyptians. These ploughs had different modifications in different parts of the world.
During the period from the 1820s to the 1840s, several innovations occurred in plough production. The Breaking Plough, or Prairie Breaker, was a heavy wooden plough plated with iron strips to reduce friction. Prairie ploughs were heavy, weighing at least 125 pounds and requiring from three to seven yoke of oxen. Cutting only three inches into the soil, farmers could break eight acres a year. After a span of few years, ploughs containing a polished wrought iron moldboard and steel share were invented.
After ploughing, other implements were used. The harrow was necessary to smoothen the soil in areas where the soil remained rough. It consists of a wooden or metal framework bearing metal disks, teeth, or sharp projecting points, called tines, which is dragged over plowed land to crush the clods of earth and level the soil. Harrows are also used to uproot weeds, aerate the soil, and cover seeds.
In the beginning the harrows were as simple as a tree branch but the harrow became more sophisticated after the Industrial Revolution. By the 1790s, two distinct types of harrows were in use: the square and the triangle, or "A" frame. The square harrow was used on old fields that were free of large obstructions, while the triangular frame was used on freshly ploughed fields. These models had wooden frames with wood or iron teeth.
In modern times, harrows are of varied types. Some are simply dragged behind a tractor or draft animal; some are suspended on wheels; many have levers to adjust the depth of the cut.
Technologies. Impact of the Industrial Revolution on Agriculture
Industrial revolution brought about drastic changes in the farming process. Farmers discovered the crop rotation system that allowed them to forgo leaving up to half of the land unused or fallow between each planting. This phase witnessed the use of animal husbandry. The industrial revolution brought about an end to tedious handiwork and encouraged the invention and manufacture of other labor-saving farm implements and machinery. Few of the inventions include:
Seed drill was an innovation that allowed seeds to be easily planted deep into the earth instead of on top where the majority were washed away or otherwise lost. The machine was pulled by horses and consisted of rotating drills or runners that planted seeds at a set depth.
It is horse-drawn machine which loosened the soil and killed weeds.
The first reapers cut the standing grain and, with a revolving reel, sweeping it onto a platform from which it was raked off into piles by a man walking alongside. The reaper could thus harvest more grain than five men using the earlier cradles.
The reaper was eventually replaced by the self-propelled combine, operated by one man, which cuts, gathers, threshes, and sacks the grain mechanically. The reaper was the first step in a transition from hand labor to the mechanized farming of today.
Prior to the threshing machines farmers used an implement called 'flail' to simply beat the grain with sticks or ropes to knock the seeds from the stalks. But this was a back-breaking work and was of low productivity. Threshing machines were designed for rapidly removing the husks from grain.
With improvements in design and efficiency, threshing machines became progressively more common and the hand flail was gradually consigned to history. The machines could be driven by wind or water power, or by horses, but the steam powered thresher became the most familiar sight. They were eventually replaced in the middle decades of the twentieth century by the combine harvester which both harvests and threshes the crop in the field in a single operation.
Tractor is a vehicle particularly crafted to exert traction at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture. The versatility of tractor is with respect to its attachments that it supports. The more the options for connecting attachments to the tractor, the higher is the cost. The most common tractor attachments include front end loaders, mowers, box blades, spreaders, tillers, plows, trailers and backhoes for plowing, tilling, disking, harrowing, planting, and similar tasks. Most tractor attachments are interchangeable so they can be used with different machines. The first tractors were steam-powered ploughing engines, followed by Gasoline Powered Tractors.