Can you tell the difference between a hoe and a harrow, or a sickle and a scythe? Know what a combine is used for, or why anyone would need to use an ear tagger or a balling gun? Take our quiz to see how many farming tools and equipment you can identify!
The USDA estimates that there are more than 2 million farms operating in the U.S., with around 99 percent categorized as family-run farms. While big factory farms might be the ones making headlines, 90 percent of farms in the U.S. gross $350,000 in annual sales a year, and half gross less than $10,000 in annual farm income. That means plenty of opportunity for those looking to change gears and pursue a career in agriculture or to continue a long family tradition in farming.
But if you're looking to build a life in farming, there's one major thing to keep in mind. The rumors you've heard about the hard work required to farm successfully are all true. It requires not only time and capital, but plenty of equipment to work the land, harvest crops and care for livestock like cows, sheep, and horses.
Think you've got what it takes to live a life down on the farm? Prove it with the farm equipment identification quiz!
The tractor is a must-have piece of equipment for farms large and small. Riding high on this machine, the farmer can look out over his land as he uses various attachments to till and cultivate the land, plant seeds and even harvest completed crops.
A draper head or draper header is a piece of equipment used for harvesting crops like wheat or soybeans. Designed as an alternative to traditional auger headers, the draper uses a series of belts to collect crops as they are cut, then feeds them into a hopper.
Farmers have relied on the scythe to help them cut grass and harvest crops for thousands of years. Before the widespread use of the tractor, this curved blade mounted on a long handle was one of the most effective tools for land clearing and cutting crops.
A farmer's job is never done. That means after clearing land, tending crops and completing the harvest, all that bounty still has to be stored somewhere. Made from metal or concrete, silos serve as popular agricultural symbols, and are used to protect grain and cereal from the elements.
People have been milking cows by hand for centuries, but the widespread use of the milking machines during the 20th century has made extracting milk easier than ever. Not only does it allow the farmer to take a hands-off approach, but the use of machines can be better for cows in terms of potential health risks and infection.
From grain to dirt to miles of manure, there are all kinds of material that needs to be moved around on a farm. A front-end loader makes much quicker work of these materials than any human with a shovel. You can find models designed for mounting on tractor as well as individual units with their own driving mechanism.
Unless you've been blessed by the rain gods, you'll need some type of irrigation system to keep crops watered and thriving. Choose from permanent systems mounted in the fields or sprinkler units designed to move down tracks between rows of crops.
Designed for pulling behind a tractor, a cultivator is designed to till and break up soil. This not only allows for proper aeration, but is also useful for killing weeds or mixing in manure or fertilizer.
Farms can cover huge swaths of land, making walking from one location to another impractical or impossible. An ATV is a quick way to transport yourself or other workers to various plots of land. On smaller farms, attachments used with an ATV can negate the need for a tractor and other more expensive equipment.
Farms with animals have one thing in common -- manure. A single horse can produce 50 pounds a day. Fortunately, tools like manure spreaders can be used to distribute the manure over the land, where it acts as fertilizer for crops.
You've seen backhoes on construction sites, where a boom arm pulls a bucket through the earth to move mounds of dirt. This machine can also be used on the farm to prepare fields, remove trees or handle various other tasks. Even better, some tractors utilize backhoe attachments to perform these tasks without the huge capital expense of a full backhoe.
A bale wrapper encloses bales of hay in a sheet of plastic. This is not only useful for transporting and storing the bales, but is also critical for the formation of silage -- a fermented grain used as animal feed.
Long before modern combines and tractors, farmers were using hoes to work the land. Built using a metal blade set perpendicular to a wooden or metal handle, the hoe is useful for everything from tilling to trenching to weeding and harvest.
Prior to the 18th century, farmers were forced to remove seeds from harvested grain by hand. This labor-intensive process became infinitely easier with the introduction of the thresher, and new threshing advancements make grain harvest more efficient each year,
A moldboard plow has a large curved blade on the bottom. Compared to a standard plow, the moldboard is much more effective at cutting through tough soil to prepare it for planting.
A broadcaster seeder spreads seeds randomly over the local area. It can range from a crank-operated handheld unit to a seeder pulled behind a tractor that throws seeds dozens of feet in every direction.
Let's face it -- you can't stick a cow in the back of a pickup truck. A livestock trailer makes it easy to load and transport cattle and other animals for sale or medical care when you need to.
Much smaller than the similar scythe, a sickle is a agricultural hand tool that has been used by farmers for centuries. It features a curved blade that's useful for everything from trimming grass to harvesting wheat.
Ever wondered how they remove all those ears of corn from their stalks? A corn head attachment fits on the front of a tractor. It has long, pointed fingers that fit between rows of corn to collect each ear and pass it into a hopper.
Designed to be pulled behind a tractor, a hay tedder helps to process and dry hay. By lifting and spreading the piles of cut grass, it helps with the drying process by increasing air flow and sun exposure.
Despite its wicked-looking appearance, a harrow is a welcome tool on any farm. When attached to a tractor or similar machine, it can be pulled along to break up and smooth the soil, remove weeds or even cover freshly-laid seeds.
Every farm, no matter the size, needs a series of shovels for small digging jobs. This hand tool is useful for everything from digging holes for fence posts to breaking up tough roots and everything in between.
Farms with livestock can often save time and money by preparing their own animal feed. A grinder-mixer is designed to grind harvested crops into the right consistency and mix them at the correct ratios so they are nutritious and digestible for cows and other creatures.
While it's possible to transport a horse in any livestock trailer, horse trailers have some special features that make the ride easier on the equine family. They are partitioned to keep animals separated and contained, have better suspension than basic trailers and often have advanced ventilation systems to ensure maximum comfort for horses.
Sure, you could use a pitchfork to stack hay bit by bit, or you could do the work in a fraction of the time with a baler. This machine is designed to collect dried hay and wrap it into a rectangular or round bale, which can be neatly stacked and transported with ease.
Whether you're working on a small farm with limited resources or dealing with a patch of ground the tractor can't get to, a pickax can save the day. This hefty tool uses a spiked head to easily break up soil, remove stubborn rocks or destroy unwanted roots.
A sprayer can be used to apply liquid fertilizer, weed or pest control chemicals to crops or land. It may be as simple as a device worn on the back with a handheld sprayer or a major piece of equipment designed for pulling behind a tractor or ATV.
Ever tried to force a sick cow or pig to take their medicine? It ranks right up there among the hardest jobs on the farm. A balling gun makes the job easier, allowing you to slide the pill to the back of the animal's mouth before releasing it.
Did you know the hooves on horses and other hoofed animals keep growing like your own fingernails? A hoof trimmer or hoof knife allows you to cut, shape and trim the hooves to keep the animal healthy.
Got cattle? Then you need a cattle headgate. this simple device holds the animal in place for medical exams, vaccinations, tagging and other critical care tasks.
More powerful than a cultivator, a tiller is designed to dig and break up tough soil. It can be a simple lawnmower-style machine, or a much larger piece of equipment designed for pull behind a tractor.
A spade is essentially a short-handled shovel with a small, narrow blade. it's perfect for pulling weeds or working with plants or crops in a small area where a tractor or larger tool just won't fit.
Prior to the '60s, farmers growing grapes for eating or winemaking were forced to pick the fruit by hand. Today, grape harvesting machines get the job done in a fraction of the time by shaking or beating vines to release the grapes into a conveyor or hopper.
A seed drill is designed for precision seed placement, particularly compared to the random technique used by a broadcast seeder. This device is pulled behind a tractor, where it digs holes, places seeds at specific depths and intervals, then gently covers the seeds with dirt.
If you keep animals on your farm, you need some way to tell one creature from another. Branding irons are used to make a permanent mark on each unit of livestock, which makes it easier to manage things like everyday care and medical needs.
If you've ever seen a field full of crops, you'll notice there's a distinct lack of rocks to get in the way. Preparing a piece of land for planting means removing all the rocks first, and a rock picker is an effective tool for accomplishing this task.
Chainsaws and other cutting tools make quick work of trees when it's time to clear a patch of land, but what about the stumps left behind? A stump grinder uses a rotary cutting disc to chip up the wood in a stump, clearing the land for planting or pasture.
A combine, or combine harvester, might be one of the most useful tools on any farm. It looks like a tractor, but uses changeable heads -- or attachments -- to plant, prepare land and harvest everything from wheat to soybeans.
Animal identification is an important task for any farmer. Ear taggers are a simple tool for inserting a tag onto an animal's ear, making it easy to tell the creatures apart when it comes to feeding, medicine and other care.
You've probably used a rake to gather piles of leaves, but farmers take rakes to the next level. While handheld rakes are useful for small jobs, many farmers use large-scale rake attachments on a tractor or combine to harvest crops or gather hay.