The projected gradual increase in the use of renewable fuels coupled with state-of-the-art advances in mechanization, such as precision farming, means that the goal of high productivity may be coupled with sustainable strategies and environmental protection.The historical image of farm labor has been that associated with backbreaking work, long hours and low pay. From the earliest times attempts have been made to alleviate drudgery through inventions and developments of implements and machines that have gradually transformed agriculture into a modern industry served by technologically sophisticated mechanization systems.
Ferguson developed a hydraulically activated three-point hitch to which implements could be attached and which could lift and lower implements to the required working position. Ferguson also developed automatic control systems (draft, position) which greatly enhanced the performance of the equipment. Draft control is a system whereby the drawbar pull can be maintained at a constant level by automatically adjusting the position of the implement (e.g. plow) in response to variations in draft (e.g. soil resistance).For small grain, drying to 14% moisture (wet basis) is sufficient to inhibit both fungal and respirational activity. The shelf life of certain fruits (most commonly apples) may be extended through controlled atmosphere storage (using reduced atmospheric oxygen) in refrigerated stores. In most instances, the careful control of temperature and relative humidity is sufficient to extend the shelf life of most crop products stored on the farm. Increasing emphasis on quality control and assessment will be facilitated by novel items of equipment including the electronic nose, biosensors, X-ray computer-aided technology (i.e. three dimensional mapping; CAT scan), nuclear magnetic resonance (Figure 9) and chlorophyll fluorescence.Tractors were mainly used for tillage and as power sources for stationary machines such as threshers, saws, silo fillers, and choppers. The same pattern of tractor use was common in Europe until about 1960 and is now common in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China. The only differences are that direct power takeoff has replaced the belt and pulley and that tractors are now more frequently used for transport. Although modern tractors are more efficient than prewar ones, wages in Asia are much lower than in the prewar United States. Asian countries are therefore likely to make continued use of animals along with tractors, until rising wages make the animals' drivers, and thus the animals, too expensive.Neither power sources nor the basic engineering solutions for particular farming tasks are very sensitive to variations in soil and weather. However, the power sources must be embodied in specific machines and the basic engineering solutions adapted to different environments. Both agroclimatic factors (soil, terrain, rainfall) and economic factors (land, labor, capital, farm size, and materials available) require adaptive innovation on a scale that has been vastly underestimated.