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Modern humans started to cultivate crops only 10,000 years ago, despite the species' 250,000-year existence, according to "Scientific American." Simple tools like sticks and stones were used from the beginning of agricultural history, but some 5,000 years ago during the Bronze Age humans started manufacturing metal tools. Nowadays, with the advances of technology, simple machines such as plows, seed drills and sprayers have drastically improved. However, the early versions of these tools are still used in some parts of the world.
The plow is the most important agricultural machine since the beginning of history, according to the "Encyclopaedia Britannica." This simple machine is used to turn and break up soil, helping to control weeds and burying crop residues. The earliest plows were simply digging sticks with handles. The Romans used oxen to draw wheel-less plows with iron blades. Although these rudimentary plows could break up Mediterranean topsoil, they were not suitable for the heavy soils of other European regions. Later, horses were substituted for oxen.
A seed drill is a machine that allows the even distribution of seeds into a channel previously carved in the soil with a metal plough. Before the Englishman Jethro Tull invented this simple yet revolutionary machine, in the early 16th century, seeds were distributed in the soil by hand. Most farmers have swapped the seed drill for the sowing machine, which makes seed deployment quicker and more efficient.
A sprayer is a piece of equipment used to spread liquid herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers on crops. Sprayers vary widely in size, from backpack units to self-propelled machines of a tractor's size. The hydraulic sprayer is one of the oldest spraying machines, consisting of a metal tank carried on the farmer's back, an internal pump connected to a handle and the spray lance.
- "Farm Machinery and Power"; Ashok Powar; 2007
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Plow
- BBC: Hand-Pushed Seed Drill
- "Scientific American": Agriculture's Sustainable Future: Breeding Better Crops; Richard Hamilton; June 2009