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The Daily Bale
Natasha Post, Author
The introduction of tractors has had an undeniable effect on the farming industry, increasing food production dramatically. Tractor history began in the late 1880s when petrol engines replaced the steam engines that had driven the farming revolution forward for almost a century. Surviving records indicate the Charter Gas Engine Co. built the first tractor in 1889. This first design utilized the wheels and transmission from a steam traction engine and combined them with a single-cylinder petrol engine manufactured by Otto.
Today, numerous major tractor manufacturers operate in the United States, including:
John Deere Tractors – A Brief History
Deere & Company was founded in 1836 when John Deere started selling small farm tools, including the self-scouring steel plow. Before the production of this plow constructed using a Scottish steel saw blade sold by Deere & Company, most farmers would use iron or wooden plows. Iron and wooden plows require frequent cleaning as the soil would stick to these materials, while dirt would slide away from the smooth-sided steel plow fashioned by John Deere.
In 1947, the first self-propelled combine was produced by John Deere, the 55 model. It was then followed by the 40, 45, and 95. In the 1960s, John Deere introduced the larger 105 model. The company later introduced both four-cylinder tractors and six-cylinder tractors in the 1960s. Before this, John Deere focused on two-cylinder tractors. However, both the four- and six-cylinder models added more power. They were also more comfortable to operate and had the added bonus of being easier to service.
In 1972, John Deere introduced the ‘Sound Idea’ tractors, which, while similar to the previous generator, they included redesigned sheet metal and had an optional integrated operator’s cab. The Sound Idea tractors continued production until the late 1970s when the Iron Horse series were manufactured. The Iron Horse series of tractors by John Deere varied in power between 90-hp and 180-hp. In the early 1980s, John Deere introduced upgraded models with PowerShift transmissions and front-wheel drive. By the early 1990s, Deere tractors were wholly redesigned and manufactured as the 7000 and 8000 series.
Case I.H. Tractors – A Brief History
Jerome Case founded Racine Threshing Machine Works in 1842, the predecessor to Case I.H. His initial success was attributed to the thresher he built to separate the straw from grain, and his thresher design can still be seen today in the B275 and B414 models. Later, in 1869, his manufacturing company expanded its horizons and built the first steam-powered tractor. However, it was still drawn by a team of horses as the generated steam power was used to power other machinery. By 1876, the first self-propelled steam engine tractor was built, which ultimately led to his diesel-powered tractor invention in the early 1890s.
Case’s first diesel-powered tractor didn’t hit the broader market until the 1900s. In 1910, the Titan tractor was built. By 1923, Case had started manufacturing multi-purpose tractors that could plow, cultivate, and harvest in a single machine called the Farmall. Case’s second generation of Farmall tractors was released in 1939, in three sizes. Even today, Farmall D and DX series machines are manufactured.
International Harvester continued to develop powerful machines, such as the 94 Series, throughout the 1980s. In 1988, the Case I.H. Magnum Series was launched, the first official collaboration between Case and International Harvester. It was followed a year later by the Maxxum Series. Case IH also became the first manufacturer to utilize GPS technology so that farmers could monitor their productivity and yield.
Ford New Holland Tractors – A Brief History
During the 20th century, Ford has been one of the most successful manufacturers in the tractor industry, partially because of its early development of assembly lines that enabled them to market affordable machinery. Popular Ford models include:
- Ford 3000
- Ford 4000
- Ford 4600
- Ford 7610
The U.S. Ford brand and its European counterpart were consolidated in the early 1960s through its global tractor line. The 2000 series was built to replace the 601 while the 4000 series was created to replace the 801. Ford also introduced the 6000 series, a powerful six-cylinder, heavy-duty tractor line. This new series of tractors came with a revamped diesel engine and continued production until 1975.
New Holland Machine Company was founded in 1895 in New Holland, PA. It was acquired originally by Sperry, and in 1975, Sperry New Holland introduced twin-rotor combines, and later, the New Holland T.G. tractor series. When the Ford Motor Company acquired New Holland in the mid-1980s, the Ford-New Holland line of tractors was born. Despite multiple acquisitions, the New Holland Agricultural company has continued to produce machinery, including the world’s first tractor powered by renewable energy.