From the Field to Your Table: How Heat Treatment is Used in Harvest Equipment

Combine Harvester in Field

As we near the end of harvest season and farmers are busy gathering the remaining crops in the fields, it’s the perfect time to touch on how methods of harvesting have evolved over time and how heat treatment plays a role in bringing this season’s harvest to your table.

Origins of Harvesting Equipment

Agriculture originated during the Neolithic era, approximately 7,000 to 10,000 years ago. Initially farmers used crude tools fashioned out of stones. At the end of the Neolithic era, metal tools had been developed, which were much stronger than stone. This advancement led to the use of metal spades, shovels, scythes, and sickles by farmers to harvest their crops. Eventually, horses and other strong animals were hitched to plows, further improving the harvesting process.

While these early metal tools were stronger than the stone tools used early on, they were often no match for hard and rocky soil. Many farmers in the Midwest struggled to pull a plow through the dirt without getting stuck or breaking the metal. This led to a blacksmith by the name of John Deere to develop a metal plow capable of cutting through the sticky prairie soil in 1837.

Modern Day Harvesting Equipment

Early agricultural tools were also limited in that they could only perform one function at a time. For example, farmers used scythes to cut down plants and then threshers to separate the usable grain from the unusable chaff. In the 1900’s there were several advancements in farming equipment including the use of tractors, design improvements, and the use of electronics to optimize efficiency. Today harvest equipment uses rotating metal blades, wheels, sieves and elevators to perform multiple tasks simultaneously.

Metal remains an essential part of agriculture today with many of the components used in combines, harvesters, and farm trucks made from metal. Heat treatment processes are used in the manufacturing of metal parts to improve their strength and durability and are performed in heat treat furnaces and ovens. These heat treatment processes help farm equipment withstand the harsh use during harvest season as they help bring food from the field to your table.

Heat Treat Furnaces for Agriculture

Lindberg/MPH furnaces are used for annealing, hardening, tempering, nitriding and stress relieving of parts used in harvesting equipment. Heat treatment changes the physical properties of metal by bringing it to a predetermined temperature and holding it there for specified period of time. The process, temperature, and time depend on the desired result which may range from reducing the fragility or brittleness of metal components to improving strength and increasing longevity.

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