February 28, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

The Combine: The Super Agricultural Machine

By Tim Dobbins, Junior Division Documentary
(Technical Assistance by Craig Maas. Some photos in the video are from my trips to Rollag in 2009 and 2012.)




Combine Intro

The Combine, The Super Agricultural Machine, harvesting a variety of crops. Now prepare yourselves as we see “how the combine technology changed America”.

Before The Combine

The combine is a great advancement in technology. It harvests a variety of crops with different cutter heads for each crop. Farmers use it all over the world for its abilities to plow, harvest, refine, and the quality of the crops that come out. Before the combine farmers would harvest by hand. It was a long process. Then more efficient farming tools were invented. Farmers would use crude wooden plows, cut hay and grain with sickles, do threshing with flails, and seed by hand. This made harvesting a little faster but not by much.

Invention Of The Combine

The combine was invented by Hiran Moore in 1838 but it was too expensive for the farmers back then so it wasn’t commonly used. The first combine was powered by horses and oxen. It would take about 16 horses or oxen to power it. The disadvantage was getting it in and out of the fields and only being able to harvest one kind of crop. Also the farmer would have to change the implements because the animals were not strong enough to carry both the harvester and the thresher. So the farmer would have to get off of the field to change the implements. The harvester is also called a swather, mower, or reaper-binder.

Steam Traction Engines

When the steam powered tractors were invented they replaced horse powered combines, but were more efficient and were able to hold the two main harvesting implements at once. At first they were hooked the horses to the wheels. At first farmers hooked the horses to transport the engine. Then the farmers hooked the power take-off to the wheels making it self-propelled. You would still have to get off the field to change the parts to protect the crops. When WWI occurred the government-encouraged farmers to buy tractors so that they only had to use one person to harvest crops and free up soldiers.

Self-Propelled Combines

After the tractor, implement manufacturers took the internal combustion engine and used it in the self-propelled combine. They also put both the harvester and the thresher on so farmers wouldn’t have to change the parts off the field. This new combine was a new way to harvest. This changed farming forever. Being able to use machines to harvest made production rate go up and food costs come down. Because many farmers knew how to operate the tractor it made it easier for them to learn how to use the combine.

How Combines Work

The combine gathers crops and removes seeds from the plant. How the combine works you might ask? First it drives through a field and cuts the stem of the plant. Then the crop goes into the machine. The combine can remove the seed of the plant then raise it up a rail and puts it into a large truck or tractor with a large storage space attached to it. It can also take the crop whole up the rail and deposit it into the truck or tractor. Some of the various crops that it gathers are corn, wheat, rice, soy beans, and other plants with a tall stem.

Lexion 590

The world’s largest combine is the Lexion 590. It weighs at about 46000 pounds. The width of the cutter head is about 40ft. the Engine is 462 horsepower caterpillar C-13 diesel. It can be used for 24 different crops. It can harvest 1800 bushels of wheat or 4800 bushels of corn per hour. The Lexion 590 has the largest production rate and the heaviest gross weight all combines. The Lexion 590 can hold about 20,000 pounds of grain. It has a multi-coupler to switch from the different cutter heads for each crop. Lexion 590 benefits the farmer by speeding up harvest and maximizes the grain quality.

How Combines Changed The World

The combine has changed the world due to its speed and ability to be able to gather and grind at the same time. Because of this speed and efficiency the combine has increased the food production rates all over the World. Before the combine, production was slow, tedious, and inefficient. People couldn’t eat as much as they do today. The farmer can now harvest more crops faster and they can check the quality of the crop for healthier yields, minimizing diseases that are caused by unclean or diseased crops.


The combine is a machine that can harvest a variety of crops. The combine can quickly harvest, refine, plow, plant, and grind crops. This has fed more people healthier food. Before the combine it would take a long time to harvest. When the first combines were invented by Hiran Moore it made harvesting a little faster. The steam-powered tractor replaced horse teams and harvesting sped up. The self-propelled combine with integrated harvester and thresher was the final step to the modern combine.  Now the combine is the most important harvester in America and the World.


No comments posted.

January (1) February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July (1) August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December