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How Hydraulics Transformed the Agriculture Industry

A century ago, a vast majority of the US population lived and worked on farms to raise crops or cattle for personal use and profit. Initially, all agricultural operations were performed manually and required significant manpower. However, the introduction and use of modern agricultural machinery, including hydraulic devices and equipment, allowed farmworkers to complete tasks faster, reducing the number of farmhands required for day-to-day operations. This decreasing demand translated to an increasing number of people migrating from agriculture to other sectors. As it stands today, only about one percent of the US population works in agriculture.

Hydraulic power was one of the key factors in the transformation of the agriculture industry. In addition to increasing efficiency and productivity in agricultural operations, hydraulic equipment offers a host of other benefits.

The Impact of Hydraulic Power

The introduction of hydraulics significantly changed the agriculture industry, especially regarding the method and manner of production. By adopting hydraulic equipment, industry professionals:

  • Reduced the amount of manual power needed (both in terms of workers and work animals)
  • Lowered the risk of injury (due to the lower number of hours spent working in the field)
  • Limited the amount of downtime between agricultural operations
  • Increased individual and overall efficiency and productivity
The impact of hydraulic power is still visible in the agriculture industry today, especially in domestic and international commercial agricultural systems. From crop planting to harvesting and cattle breeding to slaughter, a wide range of agricultural operations relies on hydraulic systems. As farming and livestock operations are reliant on small windows of opportunity dictated by the seasons and market conditions, work disruptions are detrimental to a farmer’s profits. Hydraulic equipment is especially beneficial in limiting downtime and maintaining high productivity.

Critical Applications of Hydraulics

Some of the typical agricultural machines that utilize hydraulic power are:

  • Tractors, the workhorses of the modern farm, initially used hydrostatic transmissions. However, today, hydraulic drives are common. Depending on the type employed, they may feature a hydraulic wheel motor or track drive motor.
  • Sprayers are used for uniform distribution of fertilizers, pesticides, and other agricultural chemicals. Although they can be towed and mounted on trailers and tractors, some sprayers are designed for self-propulsion. Many of the self-propelled sprayers employ hydrostatically powered wheel motors to achieve independent movement.
  • Combine harvesters and forage harvesters, as their names suggest, are used for harvesting. Forage harvesters are used for gathering fodder for cattle, while combine harvesters simultaneously reap and thresh while harvesting crops. Both of these harvesters can be self-propelled. Like sprayers, they also use hydrostatically powered wheel motors.
  • Track loaders are used on the farm for loading operations. These slow-moving machines use hydraulic track drive motors to produce the slow speeds and high torque necessary to drive the tracks.
In addition to the ones listed above, there are many other types of agricultural equipment that use hydraulic drives and transmissions to power and drive their operations, such as muck spreaders, feeder mixers, irrigation systems, and forestry machines.

Contact the Agricultural Hydraulic Team at Metro Hydraulic Jack Co.

At Metro Hydraulic Jack Co., we have supplied hydraulic equipment and parts to a wide range of industries for over 75 years. Our hydraulic product offerings include pumps, valves, cylinders, and jacks suitable for use in agricultural applications. To support our products, we also offer the following services:

  • Engineering assistance
  • Hydraulic jack repair
  • Hydraulic cylinder repair
To learn more about our product and service offerings, contact us or request a free quote today.
Posted in Hydraulic Systems, Hydraulics and Agriculture

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