What is Agricultural Machinery?
Agricultural machinery, also known as agricultural tech, is an essential tool for improving agricultural production. It helps farmers to grow more crops in less time and with greater efficiency. It can include anything from tractors and harvesters to animal feed mixers or field-wide weed removers.
Aside from traditional tools like rakes and shovels, modern farm machines have multiple functions that make harvesting fields easier. They range from automated sorting and conveyor systems to self-driving vehicles that monitor and optimize plant processes. Furthermore, some cutting-edge models feature advanced sensing technology that lets farmers detect crop ripeness and soil fertility levels much more accurately than through manual inspection.
Ultimately, these technological advancements have given farmers worldwide the power to cultivate their land more effectively and efficiently than ever before. Using suitable agricultural machines can make even a tiny plot of land manageable with unprecedented success.
What are the Advantages of Farm Machinery?
Here are the most significant advantages of investing in agricultural machinery:
Improves Existing Techniques
Agricultural mechanization practices have improved land reclamation, reduced soil erosion, and made irrigation systems more efficient. The cultivators attached to tractors help to smooth out the soil, fill in ditches and remove weeds, which all help to increase the amount of land used and prevent soil from eroding.
Boosts Farm Productivity for Commercialization
Agricultural mechanization has primarily replaced subsistence farming increasing productivity and crop yields. In subsistence farming, farmers produce only enough food to feed themselves or their families. Meanwhile, mechanization has enabled commercial farmers to produce far more food for profit.
Nullifies Effects of Labor Shortages
In recent years, many people in rural areas have moved to cities because of more jobs. But this has left farms without enough workers. Farm workers are no longer required to work as hard because machines are doing some of their work.
Makes More Space for Crops
Using the mechanization process, we can use land more efficiently. Machines can make land arable that might have been unused before. It allows us to grow a wider variety of crops.
Increases Farm Income
Agricultural mechanization provides more monetary gain for large and small farms and reduces the time needed to pay laborers. Crop yields are higher with machinery, thus increasing farm profits. Lastly, it adds a level of sophistication to farms—transforming them from local businesses to organizations that can compete on a global scale.
Type of Machinery According to Use
A diverse range of machines is available, each designed for specific purposes.
Machinery Used for Soil Cultivation
- Cultivator – A machine used to mix and pulverize soil before planting.
- Cultipacker – Tool that farmers use to squash clods of dirt, get rid of air pockets, and press small stones down into the ground.
- Plough – Used to turn over the top layer of soil, bring fresh nutrients to the surface, and prepare the soil for planting.
- Rotary tiller – A machine that breaks up hard soil and creates a smooth and even seedbed
- Strip-till – Combines the advantages of conventional tillage and no-till practices in a minimal tillage system.
- Harrows – Tools used to level, smooth, or loosen the soil.
Machinery Used for Planting
- Seed drill – A machine that allows you to sow seeds in furrows at an even depth and rate. Soil is not required for it to work.
- Broadcast seeder – Otherwise known as a spreader or fertilizer spreader, is commonly used for agricultural purposes such as spreading seed, lime, or fertilizer.
- Seed cum fertilizer drill – Distributes the fertilizer uniformly on the ground.
Farm Machinery Types Used for Irrigation
- Irrigation equipment – Includes pumps, sprinklers, and other automated systems for watering crops.
- Fire sprinkler system – Pipes connected to a water supply and used to control fires.
- Centre irrigation – Used for large-scale farming operations, delivers water from the center of a field.
Machinery Used for Fertilizing and Pest Control
- Manure spreader – Also known as a muck spreader or honey wagon, this agricultural machine spreads manure over a field to fertilize it.
- Slurry tank – A trailer with a pump and tank that can mix manure and water, creating an efficient fertilizer for fields.
- Sprayer – A tool that applies herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers to crops.
Harvesting and Threshing Equipment
- Combine harvester – A machine that shakes the grain off the stalk, cleans it, and stores it.
- Sickle – An agricultural tool used for harvesting grain crops or cutting grass for hay.
- Mower – A machine used to cut crops or grasses, operated manually by animal power or motor.
- Reaper – A machine used to harvest cereal crops near the ground. These machines are either operated by a power tiller or tractor.
- Conveyor belt – A device that transports materials from one location to another. The agricultural industry uses it frequently to transport grain.
- Crop harvesting machine – The machine that can harvest forage crops and form them into bales simultaneously.
- Grain harvesting machine – Used to harvest grains, edible brans, or fruit seeds from cereal crops.
- Root crop harvesting machine – Used to harvest crops such as potatoes, carrots, onions, and beets.
- Threshers – Used to separate the grain from stalks and husks.
- Vegetable harvesting machine – Used to harvest vegetables from the ground.
How Maintenance Plays a Role in Agriculture
Maintenance is essential to a farm’s success, both in the long and short run. Unplanned maintenance can often be more time-consuming than planned maintenance, but both are necessary to keep a farm safe and operational.
Importance of Agricultural Maintenance
Maintenance workers in the agricultural industry have an important job: ensuring that machines used on farms operate correctly and are always ready to be used. If these machines aren’t available or working correctly, it could result in significant losses for the farm.
Agricultural maintenance serves the following purpose:
- Preventing breakdowns and accidents
- Keeping planting, fertilizing, harvesting, and so forth on the schedule
- Maintaining the quality of end products by calibrating thermometers, metal detectors, sensors, etc.
Types of Assets Maintained in Agriculture
Farms rely heavily on machinery, which the farmers themselves often maintain. In addition, most farms have buildings that need to be kept clean and in good condition. Some of the assets farmers need to support are:
- Seed drills
- Manure spreaders
- Conveyor systems
- Fume washers
- Irrigation systems
- Temperature control systems
Who Performs Agricultural Maintenance?
More extensive farms will have a team to handle maintenance. In contrast, small family-owned farms may only have one person responsible for running the machines (often with help from other relatives). No matter the farm’s size, whoever is in charge of repairs needs to know every machine and how it functions.
Common Preventive Maintenance Checks for Equipment Maintenance and Calibration
Every farming equipment, whether mobile or permanent, requires frequent inspections to ensure that it operates properly. Here are some of the most common preventive maintenance checks for equipment maintenance and calibration:
Tasks that farmers typically need to perform to winterize their equipment and get it ready for the long-term storage required during colder months include:
- Changing diesel fuel from #2 to #1
- Keeping batteries charged or disconnecting them during the season
- Heavy equipment cleaning
- Draining and cleaning pesticide application equipment
- Checking and replacing antifreeze and hydraulic fluids as needed
- Draining the diesel exhaust fluid tank (if necessary)
- Oil equipment for storage
- Resolving any outstanding issues
- Other preventive maintenance tasks
Checking and Changing Fluids
It’s necessary to ensure that the liquids used in the equipment are clear and safe. These fluids should be exchanged for fresh ones at certain intervals, like when they degrade or gather pollutants. Below are some of the fluids farmers need to check up on.
- Daily checking on engine oil
- Daily checking on transmission fluid
- Annual checking for coolants
- A couple of times a year for hydraulic fluid
Lubricating Moving Parts
The operator’s manual for each piece of equipment will usually provide general guidelines on lubrication and other preventive maintenance tasks. Use those as a starting point, then inspect and lubricate all the moving parts needed.
Checking and Changing Filters
Air, oil, and fuel filters should all be changed regularly. Check them regularly to make sure they aren’t clogged, and replace them when needed.
Examining the Bearings
All rotating parts require routine maintenance, including wheels, pulleys, shafts, and bearings. A replacement is necessary if they have worn out too much or become damaged.
Ensure that your calibration intervals follow the guidance in the operator’s manual for all equipment.
Conducting Damage Inspections
It’s essential to regularly inspect all equipment for any damage that could impair its performance. Look for signs of wear and tear, rust, leaks, corrosion, and any other damage that could affect the machine’s performance. If you spot any problems, make sure to get them fixed right away to prevent further damage.
Other Routine Upkeep
Regular cleaning is necessary to keep the machines working efficiently. You can do simple tasks, such as tidying up, daily, while you can do more comprehensive cleaning on a weekly or monthly basis.
How to Perform Agricultural Maintenance Safely?
The pointers below help perform maintenance work on your farm as safely as possible.
Read the Owner’s Manual
The manual will provide all the information needed to operate and perform maintenance on your farm equipment safely.
Shut Down and Secure Equipment Before Servicing
Before performing any maintenance work, disconnect the equipment, shut off the engine, and remove the keys. By taking this step, you can avoid accidental power-ups during maintenance and decrease the likelihood of sustaining injuries. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), these procedures could prevent 50,000 injuries and 120 deaths annually.
Use Appropriate PPE
It’s always advisable to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when performing maintenance on farm equipment. Wear appropriate clothing, goggles, and gloves to protect yourself from dust, dirt, grease, oils, and other contaminants that could cause injuries.
Utilize the Correct Tools
Using the appropriate tools for maintenance is vital. Make sure you only use approved hand tools and never force them to fit when they don’t.
Add Signage in Hazardous Areas
There should be clear warning signs for hazards on the farm, such as heights, fragile floors, and areas with fumes or dust. It can help workers exercise caution and prevent injuries, such as broken bones from falls or respiratory diseases from inhaling fumes.
Hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides or cleaning agents, are often present on farms. If you’re cleaning equipment that has been in contact with these substances, it’s necessary to take extra care to avoid cross-contamination with food or other chemicals.
Agricultural maintenance training provides crucial information about preventing injuries by implementing best practices. By investing in this type of training now, you can avoid more serious injuries down the road. Training can be done in person or using digital learning tools like Training.
Plan Maintenance Tasks in Advance
By planning your maintenance tasks and ensuring you have the right tools available, you can help prevent accidents. Additionally, regularly scheduled maintenance may help reduce unplanned repairs due to machinery failure.
FAQs About Agricultural Machinery
Agricultural machinery refers to the various tools and machines that farmers use to reduce human effort. Farm machines include a wide range of devices, from the simple hand-held tools used since ancient times to the sophisticated harvesters used in modern mechanized agriculture.
Tractors are considered one of the most valuable machines on a farm. Different accessories are available to suit other tasks, and they are available in various sizes and shapes. Tractors can be used year-round for plowing, feeding, planting, and more.
Good machinery management comes from making the best decisions possible about selecting and operating equipment, owning it, financing it, and using it in a way that gets the most output. It includes tracking the costs associated with machine ownership to determine when it’s time to replace or upgrade equipment. Additionally, it requires adhering to safety protocols.
Weigh all costs—operational, ownership, and machinery/labor—against the resale value before you buy. Also, consider how well the machine will fit into your existing system and what maintenance it requires. Selecting farm machinery should also take safety into account.