Combine Harvester Biggest Labour Saving Machine Ever Invented 02/04/2005

Imagine harvesting an entire field with a pair of scissors. This was the case before the combine harvester was first invented and patented. Harvesting was done by a group of five people with four reapers and a binder. Although very efficient considering the man power needed, the reapers would start at the crack of dawn and were expected to harvest one or two acres of crops a day. For rural Britain in the eighteenth century the going pay rate would have been roughly £1 12p a month each, plus food. Not the most pleasant way to earn a living. It wasn’t till 1831, when the first reaper invented by Cyrus Hall McCormick, was able to drastically cut labour out in the field.

The combine harvester is considered to be the most labour-saving devices ever created for farmers, as it literally performs 6 major operations during the harvesting seasons. Which up till then were all carried out by a group of individuals having to perform the back breaking work. Invented in Melbourne by Hugh Victor McKay, the first combine was being mass produced by the 1890’s, although still driven by horse and donkey. Much to the credit of McKay, the Harvester Company became one of Australia’s largest exporters, producing over 1,000 machines and employing 3,000 people in 1904.

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