Discovery Science: Food Technology – Agricultural Machinery and Technology

Food Technology – Agricultural Machinery and Technology

Machines are used to accomplish almost all agricultural tasks from working the soil (tilling) to sowing and harvesting. These implements, either self-propelled or pulled by another vehicle, have greatly increased crop yields.

In recent decades structural reforms have increased the size of farms cultivated by individual agricultural concerns. These reforms have also led to a steady increase in the automation of agricultural processes; more and more machines are used today in order to carry out the work quickly and effectively. Procuring agricultural machinery often involves a huge investment that small and midsize operators cannot afford.

For this reason small farms join forces in machinery cooperatives to share the machinery. Sometimes external companies are contracted to perform particular tasks. The most important agricultural machinery include tractors, harvesters, plows, harrows, sowing machines, planters fertilizer applicators, and crop sprayers for applying plant treatment agents. In fact, major trade fairs for agricultural technology and machinery take place regularly around the world.

Automation on the farm

Technology continues to gain significance in agriculture, and not only in the cultivation of agricultural land.

Machines are also used in other areas of agriculture: for example, in animal husbandry. Computers control feed distribution in the animals’ stalls, and milking machines are used in dairy operations.

Further processing

After the harvest, most raw agricultural products undergo further processing. For example, grain is dried and corn is milled for use as animal feed and fermented into silage. Yet many steps of these processes are not carried out on the farms themselves, but rather in “downstream” companies.

Grain is delivered to a mill where it is ground into flour. Livestock sold to a slaughterhouse is processed into meat and meat products. Some agricultural commodities are used immediately in the food industry or in other trade businesses.


Using chemicals in the form of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides has had serious consequences for the environment The application of nitrate and phosphate in fertilizers greatly impacts rivers and lakes and has disturbed the natural biological balance.

As a result bodies of waters can “collapse.” A few of the pesticide treatments (such as DDT) had such a negative effect on the environment and the food chain that their application has been prohibited.