Summertime transforms our farming landscape. Field upon field of wheat, barley, oil seed rape and more are combined with the resultant crops destined for a diverse range of uses including milling, feed and fermentation for beer.

The key component of this process is the combine harvester and without these leviathans of the land farmers would face the unenviable and surely unattainable task of harvesting the grain crop by hand.

Combine Harvester: noun: an agricultural machine that reaps, threshes, and cleans a cereal crop in one operation. Name derived from combining three the processes of harvesting grain – reaping, threshing and winnowing – into a single operation

The first combine harvesters enter production and use in the 1830’s and were pulled by teams of horses before steam, tractor and eventually self-propulsion provided the driving force.

File:Combine harvester pulled by 33 horses, Walla Walla, ca. 1902.jpg

Modern combine harvesters are of course a million miles apart from their early forefathers however, the process has changed very little. Modernisation has improved the speed, volume and efficiency of the operation still crucial for farmers today.

Here’s a short video from Emma and her brother Dan that gives a handy guide to quite how farmers physically separate the wheat from the chaff.



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