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Mechanical reaper

A reaper is a person or machine that reaps (cuts and gathers) crops when they are ripe.

Contents

Hand reaping

Hand reaping is done by various means, including plucking the ears of grain directly by hand, cutting the grain stalks with a sickle, cutting them with a scythe, or with a later type of scythe called a cradle. Reaping is usually distinguished from mowing, which uses similar implements, but is the traditional term for cutting grass for hay, rather than reaping crops.

The reaped grain stalks are gathered into sheaves (bunches), tied with string or with a twist of straw. Several sheaves (singular sheaf) are then leant against each other with the ears off the ground to dry out, forming a stook. After drying, the sheaves are gathered from the field and stacked, being placed with the ears inwards, then covered with thatch or a tarpaulin; this is called a stack or rick. In the British Isles a rick of sheaves is traditionally called a corn rick, to distinguish it from a hay rick ("corn" in British English means "grain", not "maize", which is not grown for grain there). Ricks are made in an area inaccessible to livestock, called a rick-yard or stack-yard. The corn-rick is later broken down and the sheaves threshed to separate the grain from the straw.

Collecting split grain from the field after reaping is called gleaning, and is traditionally done either by hand, or by penning animals such as chickens or pigs onto the field.

Hand reaping is now rarely done in industrialized countries, but is still the normal method where machines are unavailable or where access for them is limited (such as on narrow terraces).

Mechanical reaping

A mechanical reaper or reaping machine is a mechanical, semi-automated device that reaps.

It is believed that either Romans or the Celts before them, invented a simple mechanical reaper that cut the ears without the straw and was pushed by oxen (Pliny the Elder Nat. His. 18,296). This device was forgotten in the Dark Ages, during which period reapers reverted to using scythes and sickles to gather crops.

Patrick Bell of Scotland created a reaper that used a revolving reel, cutting knife and canvas conveyor in 1828. This machine was used around his county and some may have been exported, but the device was never patented.

A much more sophisticated mechanical reaper was invented in 1831 by Robert Hall McCormick in Walnut Grove, Virginia, and patented by his son Cyrus McCormick in 1834 as a horse-drawn farm implement to cut small grain crops. [1] This McCormick reaper machine had several special elements.

  • a main wheel frame
  • projected to the side a platform containing a cutter bar having fingers through which reciprocated a knife driven by a crank
  • upon the outer end of the platform was a divider projecting ahead of the platform to separate the grain to be cut from that to be left standing
  • a reel was positioned above the platform to hold the grain against the reciprocating knife to throw it back upon the platform
  • the machine was drawn by a team walking at the side of the grain. [2]

It developed into and was replaced by the reaper-binder, which reaped the crop and bound it into sheaves. By 1896, 400,000 reaper-binders were estimated to be harvesting grain. This was in turn replaced by the swather and eventually the combine harvester, which reaps and threshes in one operation.

See also

References

  1. ^ Daniel, Gross; Forbes Magazine Staff (August 1997). Greatest Business Stories of All Time (First ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. p. 27. ISBN 0-471-19653-3.  
  2. ^ http://www.machine-history.com/Agricultural%20Machinery

External links

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