Post written by Melody Robinson, MSc Candidate at University of Guelph
For Ontario grain farmers, January-March are ‘slow’ months on the farm. It is during these months that farmers take the time to attend agricultural conferences and farm equipment shows. Like any industry, the agricultural industry is constantly evolving. Farmers attend these conferences and equipment shows to hear about the latest research, products and technology! Sometimes if a farmer is lucky, they may be shopping for new equipment. Farmers use a variety of different types of equipment during the growing season, and equipment is often unique to each crop!
Tractors: This is likely the most recognizable piece of farming equipment. Tractors can range from the size of riding lawn mower to as big as a house (well, not really… but they get pretty big!). Large tractors are used to pull seed planters, plows, manure spreaders and wagons. Often, farmers will put up to 3 tires on each axle to help the tractor from sinking into the soil (that’s 12 tires in total!).
GPS: Just like the GPS your parents have in their car to tell them where to drive, farmers use GPS technology to help them fertilize, plant, and spray their fields! Unlike the highway, fields don’t have lines or arrows to help farmers stay on track. Farmers can save money by using a GPS system connected to their tractor to make sure they don’t overlap their fertilizer or run over their crop!
Fertilizer Spreaders: Fertilizer is very expensive and must be applied carefully to make sure that all plants have access to it. Some farmers use a GPS-controlled ‘Precision Fertilizer Spreader’ like the one below to apply fertilizer to the fields before they plant their crops. These huge truck-like vehicles blow granular fertilizer out a boom that stretches across the field.
Seed Planters: These are a very special piece of equipment. As the name suggests, they are used for getting the seed into the ground! Seed planters can look very different depending if a farmer is planting corn, wheat or soybeans. Seed planters ensure that each seed is placed the correct distance from each other so that each seed has excess to water, sunlight and nutrients. Corn seed planters can plant anywhere from 4 – 16 rows at one time! The corn planter in this picture is a 12-row planter (you can count the yellow buckets where the seed is stored to figure this out!).
Combines: Farmers use this huge piece of equipment to harvest their crops. The ‘head’ of the combine chops the plant down and sucks it into the large ‘belly’ of the combine. There, shaking plates, belts and pressurized air help to remove all the plant material from the grain. The grain ends up in a large ‘storage bin’ located on the combine. An ‘auger’ is used to move the grain from the storage bin into wagons waiting nearby! Combines are very complex pieces of equipment- a new combine could cost over $500,000!