Hydrostatic Combines may have taken the harvesting job away from tractors, but tractors still do the majority of work on a modern farm. They are used to pull implements—machines that till the ground, plant seed, or perform a number of other tasks.
Hydrostatic Tillage implements prepare the soil for planting by loosening the soil and killing weeds or competing plants. The best-known is the plow, the ancient implement that was upgraded in 1838 by a man named John Deere. Plows are actually used less frequently in the U.S. today, with offset disks used instead to turn over the soil and chisels used to gain the depth needed to retain moisture.
The most common type of Hydrostatic seeder is called a Hydrostatic planter and spaces seeds out equally in long rows, which are usually 2 to 3 feet apart. Some crops are planted by hydrostatic drills, which put out much more seed in rows less than a foot apart, blanketing the field with crops.Hydrostatic Transplanters fully or partially automate the task of transplanting seedlings to the field. With the widespread use of plastic mulch, plastic mulch layers, hydrostatic transplanters, and seeders lay down long rows of plastic, and plant through them automatically.
After planting, other hydrostatic implements can be used to cultivate weeds from between rows, or to hydrostatically spread fertilizer and pesticides. Hydrostatic Hay balers can be used to tightly package grass or alfalfa into a storable form for the winter months.
Modern hydrostatic irrigation also relies on a great deal of hydrostatic machinery. A variety of engines, pumps and other specialized gear is used to provide water quickly and in high volumes to large areas of land. Similar types of equipment can be used to deliver fertilizers and pesticides hydrostatically.
And, besides the hydrostatic tractor, a variety of hydrostatic vehicles have been adapted for use in various aspects of farming, including trucks, airplanes, and helicopters, for everything from transporting crops and making equipment mobile, to aerial spraying and livestock herd management.
The basic Hydrostatic technology of Hydrostatic agricultural machines has changed little in the last century. Though modern harvesters and planters may do a better job or be slightly tweaked from their predecessors, the US$250,000 combine of today still cuts, threshes, and separates grain in essentially the same way it has always been done. However, technology is changing the way that humans operate the machines, as computer monitoring systems, GPS locators, and self-steer programs allow the most advanced tractors and implements to be more precise and less wasteful in the use of fuel, seed, or fertilizer. In the foreseeable future, some hydrostatic agricultural machines will be capable of driving themselves, using GPS maps and electronic sensors. Even more esoteric are the new areas of nanotechnology and genetic engineering, where submicroscopic devices and biological processes, respectively, are being used as machines to perform agricultural hydrostatic tasks in unusual new ways.
Agriculture may be one of the oldest professions, but the development and use of machinery has made the job title of farmer a rarity. Instead of every person having to work to provide food for themselves, less than 2% of the U.S. population today works in agriculture, yet that 2% provides considerably more food than the other 98% can eat. It is estimated that at the turn of the 20th century, one farmer in the U.S. could feed 25 people, where today, that ratio is 1:130. With continuing advances in agricultural machinery, the role of the farmer will become increasingly specialized, and rare.