Farm Mechanization is the application of engineering principles and technology in agricultural production storage and processing on the farm.
In G. D. Aggarwal’s words, “Farm mechanization is a term used in a very broad’ sense. It not only includes the use of machines, whether mobile or immobile, small or large, run by power and used for tillage operations, harvesting and thrashing but also includes power lifts for irrigation, trucks for haulage of farm produce, processing machines, dairy appliances for cream separating, butter making, oil pressing, cotton ginning, rice hulling, and even various electrical home appliances like radios, irons, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and hot plates.”
Mechanized agriculture is the process of using agricultural machinery to mechanize the work of agriculture, greatly increasing farm worker productivity. The effective mechanization contributes to increasing production in two major ways: firstly the timeliness of operation and secondly the good quality of work. The requirement of power for certain operations like seedbed preparation, cultivation and harvesting become so great that the existing human and animal power in the country appears to be inadequate. As a result, the operations are either partially done or sometimes completely neglected, resulting in low yield due to poor growth or untimely harvesting or both.
Benefits of Mechanization of Agriculture
(1) It Increases Production: Mechanization increases the rapidity and speed of work with which farming operations can be performed. According to D. R. Bomford, “The ploughman with his three-horse am controlled three- horse; power when given a medium-sized crawler tractor controlled between 20 to 30 horsepower. His output, therefore, went up in the ratio of about 8:1.”
(2) It Increases Efficiency and Per Man Productivity: Mechanization raises the efficiency of labour and enhances the farm production per worker. By its nature, it reduces the quantum of labour needed to produce a unit of output. In the U.S.A., “the amount of human labour used to produce 100 bushels of wheat dropped from 320 hours in the year 1830 to 108 hours in 1900; by 1940 a new series of improvements have reduced labour requirements to 47 hours.” (Bureau of Agricultural Economics).
(4) Mechanization Results in Lower Cost of Work: It has been accepted by all that one of the methods of reducing unit costs is to enlarge the size of the farms and go in for more intensive farming. It is found that the cost of production and the yields can be adjusted properly if mechanization is resorted to.
(5) It Contracts the Demand for Work Animals for ploughing water lifting, harvesting, transport etc.: In actual operation, costs amount to little when machines are idle, whereas the cost of maintenance of draught animals remains the same during both periods of working and idleness because animals have to be fed whether they are doing work or not. It is advantageous to use tractors when a great deal of work has to be done in a short time.
(6) It Brings in other Improvements in Agricultural Technique: In its training come improvements in the sphere of irrigation, land reclamation and the prevention of soil erosion. The present-day dependence on the monsoon as the only irrigation of crops in India can be obtained by a more scientific approach.
Besides, ploughing by tractor reclaims more land and thereby extends the cultivated area as the tractor smoothens hillocks, fills in depressions and gullies and eradicate deep-rooted weeds. It also prevents soil erosion. Besides mechanical fertilization, contour bunding and terracing are done by mechanical methods with the help of self-propelled graders and terraces.
(7) It Modifies Social Structure in Rural Areas: It results in a significant modification of the social structure in rural areas. It frees the farmers from much of the laborious, tedious, hard work on the farms. The pressure on land decreases and the status of the farmers improves.
(8) It Leads to Commercial Agriculture: Mechanization results in a shift from ‘subsistence farming’ to ‘commercial agriculture. This shift occurs mainly due to the need for more land and capital to be associated with the farmer in order to reap the full technological benefits.
This in its turn gives rise two tendencies:
(i) Gradual replacement of domestic or family by commercial methods, and
(ii) Search for international markets for agricultural produce.
(9) It Solves the Problem of Labour Shortage: In countries where human labour falls short of requirements in agriculture, use of machines can replace human and animal power.
(10) It Releases Manpower for Non-Agricultural Purposes: Since the mechanization of agriculture results in the employment of a lesser number of persons on farms, surplus manpower may be available for other economic activities.
(11) It Results in Better Use of Land: mechanization also results in better utilization of agricultural land for “the substitution of gasoline tractor for animal power means reduced demand. The use of mechanical energy, therefore, leads to good agricultural production, to trade many crops or saleable animal products in short, to an exchange economy and a system of land utilization in which cultivator rests on a different and infinitely more complex basis than is found in the local self-sufficient economy.”
(12) It Increases Farm Income: With the introduction of mechanisation the farm income, as well as the individual income, goes up. E. G. Nourse writes, “It accounts for the unparalleled rise of national income and with it the standard of living, it builds cities, it raises an ever loftier superstructure of financial, commercial and other cultural institutions; it turns loose economic agglomerates into social economies to closely knit by a thousand lines of interdependence. It creates much of the capital surplus on which modern economic progress is largely based. It constitutes the lion’s share to the public funds which support education, health and law and order. In short, not only do machine industry, and mechanization and science render agriculture efficient, they create the very world in which this efficient agriculture can sell its bountiful crops.”
(13) It Reduces Fodder Area and Enlarges Food Area: “With the introduction of mechanization in agriculture the surplus animal power would be reduced so that large areas of land required for producing fodder for it can be utilized for producing food for human consumption. The remaining cattle population would be better attended to and better fed under mechanized agriculture, for new and nourishing varieties of feeding stuff would be grown in cultural (waste lands after reclaiming them for cultivation.” (Dr. Memoria)
Other benefits include:
Advantages of Farm Mechanization
- Timelines of operation
- It saves labour
- It reduces health hazard
- Increases in-Farm revenue
- It encourages large-scale Farming
- Increase in output
- Co-operation among farmer’s
- It increases specialization of labour
- It saves time
- Reduction in cost of production
- Improvement in quality of products
- Availability of labour for other sectors
- Use of less human labour
Disadvantages Of Farm Mechanization
- High cost
- Displacement of workers
- Compaction of soil
- It causes environmental pollution
- Degradation of landscape
- Land tenure system
- Destruction of soil structure
- Redundancy of farm labour
- Few crops can be mechanized
- Inadequate technical know-how
- Damage to crops
- Inadequate spare parts
- The high cost of maintenance
- The spread of pests and diseases
- Human control
- Unstable fuel supply
Problems Of Farm Mechanization
- Land tenure system
- Scattered Farm holding
- Poverty of farmers
- Inadequate facilities (Machinery)
- Bad topography
- Varied soil types
- Inadequate spare parts
- Inadequate technical manpower
- Problems of stumps and logs.