Ploughing is the first preparation for planting.The plough is primarily designed to prepare the ground for cultivation by turning it over, thus burying the weeds and loosening the earth. It is generally agreed by historians that the earliest implement used for cultivation was probably a crude pointed bent stick or tree branch which was used to stir the soil surface. In effect, a hand held hoe was used in which the user scratched at the earth to form a tilth where corn could be sown. Over a period of time, these hand held hoes soon developed into simple ploughs. These primitive ploughs were eventually pulled by animals like oxen, camels and even elephants. Animals enabled the land to be tilled more easily and faster; thus more food was produced. The credit for this innovation goes to the Egyptians. These ploughs had different modifications in different parts of the world.
After ploughing, other implements were used. The harrow was necessary to smoothen the soil in areas where the soil remained rough. It consists of a wooden or metal framework bearing metal disks, teeth, or sharp projecting points, called tines, which is dragged over plowed land to crush the clods of earth and level the soil. Harrows are also used to uproot weeds, aerate the soil, and cover seeds.
In the beginning the harrows were as simple as a tree branch but the harrow became more sophisticated after the Industrial Revolution. By the 1790s, two distinct types of harrows were in use: the square and the triangle, or “A” frame. The square harrow was used on old fields that were free of large obstructions, while the triangular frame was used on freshly ploughed fields. These models had wooden frames with wood or iron teeth.
Seed drill was an innovation that allowed seeds to be easily planted deep into the earth instead of on top where the majority were washed away or otherwise lost. The machine was pulled by horses and consisted of rotating drills or runners that planted seeds at a set depth.
It is horse-drawn machine which loosened the soil and killed weeds.
Prior to the threshing machines farmers used an implement called ‘flail’ to simply beat the grain with sticks or ropes to knock the seeds from the stalks. But this was a back-breaking work and was of low productivity. Threshing machines were designed for rapidly removing the husks from grain.
With improvements in design and efficiency, threshing machines became progressively more common and the hand flail was gradually consigned to history. The machines could be driven by wind or water power, or by horses, but the steam powered thresher became the most familiar sight. They were eventually replaced in the middle decades of the twentieth century by the combine harvester which both harvests and threshes the crop in the field in a single operation.
Water is undoubtedly the sine qua non for all irrigation activities, worldwide. Particularly in India, an unpredictable monsoon coupled with an increasing demand for food production (at the self-sustenance as well as commercial levels) has induced an imperative need for irrigation options other than those that are either extremely laborious and time consuming or simply too expensive for the small and marginal farmer.
Electric and diesel pumps can be used to extract groundwater for irrigating any large acres of land; however, some cost effective technologies that are being availed by a major section of farmers.