A Brief History Of Tractors In Australia – Part 1

Just like most industries, Australian agriculture has experienced unexpected gains and benefits in output and productivity, through the use of new modern technology over the last 100 years. At the turn of the century, great part of the energy used to farm operation came from manual labor, at times assisted with horses, steam power and bullock.

Tractors-in-AustraliaLarge scale gazing and farming relied upon the availability to lots of unskilled workers. Nowadays, farms that employed a huge number of laborers at the turn of the century are controlled by a few people by using advanced technology and machinery.

The innovative developments or simply said improvements in disease and weed control with the help of new advanced chemicals, have transformed the methods and ways in which farmers control diseases in livestock or crops and prepare their ground.

However, the use of new technologies, fertilizers, tractors and tractor implements and chemicals bring new challenges to the Australian agriculture.

But lets say a few words about the history of Australian tractors. The mechanization of Australian farming was a little bit slower than the other countries as a result of the huge distance and the cost of transporting farm machinery to the other end of the world. And, this was the main reason why Australian farmers, blacksmiths, engineering companies etc. became specialist at inventing and adapting their own farm machinery.

Some of the first farm machinery included a stripper by John Ridley and John Bull in 1943, R. Bowyer’s Stum Jump Plow in 1876, in 1884 James Morrow patented a stripper-harvester and in the same year Hugh McKay produced its first stripper.

The first steam engines were imported and used primarily in flourmills, and the gold rush increased their use in rock stamping and water pumping. In the middle of 1800’s Australian firms started to produce portable and traction steam engines. It is believed that the first used inner combustion engine tractor in Australia was in 1903 from England.

McDonald – One of the tractor pioneers of Australia was Alfred Henry McDonald. Together with his brother they started an engineering business in Melbourne in the early 1900’s. Their first produced tractor was in 1908, the Imperial EA 20hp 2 cylinder model. After their first tractor, followed models like, EB, EAA and some lightweight models, all powered by their kerosene fueled, spark ignition engines. They started experimenting with Super Diesel engines and in 1920’s imported the Swedish Advance and the American Emmerson – Braingham. After a short absence of manufacturing tractors, they began again their production in 1930 and continued to produce tractors until 1955.

Continue to part 2


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