The plough is one of the oldest, most widespread and basic implements in agriculture.Read More
The plough is one of the oldest, most widespread and basic implements in agriculture.
The first mechanical ploughs were steam-powered — they were self-powered ploughs or pulled by steam tractors. Soon, however, the more familiar internal combustion engine took over. The basic plough design remained consistent from many hundreds of years, comprising a coulter, mouldboard and ploughshare.
Major design improvements did not arrive until the 1700s, when the Rotherham plough featured a revised shape and iron-covered mouldboard. This was much lighter and more manoeuvrable than previous ploughs and suited to smaller English fields. It was also one of the very first mass-produced ploughs, being made in the factories that were heralding the start of the Industrial Revolution.
The later 1700s saw the arrival of the first cast ploughs, made from a single piece of iron. These later evolved into multi-part units to better cope with breakages. In 1837, the first steel plough was produced by John Deere in the US. This was a major breakthrough, being strong enough to plough soils previously thought of as being unsuitable for farming and bringing much more land into production.
These initial ploughs could only plough to one side, usually the right, but the turnwrest plough allowed ploughing on either side of the unit, and then the reversible plough used two mouldboards mounted rear to rear, with the rear mouldboard being raised when not in use and then being deployed when the plough is turned over at the end of a row. Most modern ploughs are of the reversible type and mounted on a tractor via its three-point linkage.
The range of ploughs available to modern farmers is vast. It includes examples from manufacturers such as Bomford, Browns, Chiltern, Dowdeswell, Flexicoil, Goizin Prestidge, Gregoire, International, Kuhn, Kverneland, Lemken, Massey Ferguson, Overum, Rabe, Ransome, Rumstad, Vaderstad and Vogel.
Modern ploughs are generally exceptionally hardy and can give many years of excellent service. A used plough is therefore a good investment and should also offer long, trouble-free use. A good trial is essential, along with a visual inspection of major components to ensure they are in reasonable condition.