Can You Correctly ID These Common Pieces of Farming Equipment?


By: Ian Fortey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Thomas Barwick / Stone / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Once upon a time, and by that, we mean thousands of years in the past, the world of agriculture and farming was limited to some elementary hand tools and some extremely simple processes. You'd have a hoe or a shovel, you'd work the soil and plant some seeds, and it was all pretty easy going and low key.

The demands of society as a whole meant that farming had to grow up, though. More mouths to feed meant more efficient methods of agriculture, so hoes gave way to plows drawn by horses or oxen. Where just a few plants were growing, now there were hundreds. You can't stop progress, after all. Eventually, oxen and plows gave way to tractors and cultivators. Today, we're at the point in time where computers can help us sort out bruises apples, and machines with robot arms will shake all the nuts out of a tree. It's pretty cool when you stop to think about it.

If you think you know a little about the tools and equipment that make farming possible, then why not see what you're made of? Take the quiz, and we'll see just how many pieces of farming and agricultural equipment you can identify! 

Before you plant seeds, you should use what to prepare the soil?

Plows have been a part of agriculture for hundreds of years and can be found in all cultures that engaged in farming. Old school plows used to be pulled behind horses, donkeys, or oxen long before anyone thought of machines like tractors.


Which of these tools did the Sumerians believe was created by a god?

Hoes have been around about as long as farming has and are actually pretty versatile considering how simple they are. They can dig, they can bury, they can weed, they can cultivate, they can do just about whatever you need. Just not very fast.


This replaced the ox. What is it?

Tractors are the go-to farm equipment of modern agriculture behind which 100 tools can be towed. Before the invention of the automobile, the work of a tractor was done by horses, donkeys, and oxen.


Which of these tools ensures even seed distribution?

A seed drill does pretty much what the name suggests. It bores a hole into the soil to deposit a seed, ensuring that every seed is planted at the same depth and the same distance from every other seed.


Once the grain is cut, this machine will help you collect it. Do you know what it's called?

A harvester, or a combine harvester, can be used to harvest any number of crops from wheat to corn to soybeans and many others. This tool is essential for any modern farm in terms of time and money-saving.


What do you call this grim reaper-esque tool?

A scythe is a long-handled tool featuring a sharp, curved blade that can be used to reap grasses, hay, and various grain crops. It's also useful for maintaining your lawn if you want to have an exotic mowing experience.


Do you know which of these will help you keep your field free from pests?

Sprayers can come in a hand-held variety, backpacks, or even larger versions hauled behind tractors. They're useful for spraying any kind of liquid such as fertilizer or pesticides on your crops.


If you have seedlings, you can use this to get them planted in a field. Do you know it?

A transplanter is what you'd use to plant seedlings as opposed to just seeds in a field. True to its name, it allows you to transplant them from one spot to another without damaging them in any way.


This tool is as useful in construction as it is on a farm. What is it?

A front end loader, or simply a loader, is often used in construction but also useful around a farm for any large scale moving of heavy materials like soil, manure, rocks or whatever else.


Which of these devices is probably pretty common in Idaho?

A potato harvester is a large, tractor-like device that a farmer drives through the field so that potatoes can be pulled up from where they've been planted. Soil and rocks are filtered out with a sieve, and the potatoes are all moved back to a collection bin.


If you've ever seen a huge pile of grain, this is what made it. Do you know it?

A conveyor is just a conveyor belt that is a quick and efficient way to transport grain, usually from a lower elevation to a higher one. It piles the grain up or loads it into a truck or cart for transport.


Which of these is handy for getting around quickly on your farm?

ATV's are not just farm tools and lots of people enjoy riding them for kicks all over the place, but on a farm, they're handing for getting across fields, especially muddy ones, and for occasionally towing small things as well.


Do you know what piece of equipment makes a firm, smooth seedbed?

A cultipacker is like a giant rolling pin for farmland, towed behind a tractor, and usually featuring a roller with ridges. The roller breaks down dirt clods, pushes stones flat, and makes the ground ready for seeds or, if it has been seeded, ensures all seeds are firmly pushed into the soil.


Do you know the name of this very ancient, very basic tool?

If shovels aren't the oldest tools in the world, they're certainly up there. Ancient, pre-historic shovels were actually made from the shoulder blades of animals. Speaking of, apes such as chimpanzees have been observed using tools to dig as well, effectively proving even animals can make shovels.


This is sometimes called a screw conveyor. What else is it called?

Like a conveyor, a grain auger is used to move grain from someplace low to someplace high. Unlike a conveyor, which is just a belt, the grain auger uses a screw motion, causing the grain to rise the threads of the screw as it spins and spills out the top.


Which of these is known by the deceptive name of "honey wagon?"

Manure spreaders are machines used to fertilize the fields. The main compartment is filled with manure, and hoses or a broadcast spreader will spray out fertilizer over the fields as a tractor pulls it along.


When you need to dig a hole, this will definitely get the job done. What is it?

A backhoe is essentially a tractor that has been outfitted with a hydraulic arm and digging bucket. Most modern backhoes can brace themselves with legs and used the shovel to dig a deep hole.


Can you name this tool that is good for weeding?

A row crop cultivator is a piece of equipment that helps weed between rows of craps that have already been planted. It can be raised and lowered to whatever desired height to strip the weeds from the soil as it tills.


This can be as small as a pushcart or as large as a tractor. Do you recognize it?

A broadcast seeder or spreader doesn't just have to spread seeds around, it can also spread fertilizer, sand, de-icer, or any other small granules you need to share around. It works by having a hopper filled with the seed that dispensing down onto a spinning disk that flings the seeds willy nilly.


Which of these can be used for giving hayrides?

Wagons are old school transportation equipment that used to be pulled behind horses long before they were pulled behind tractors. They don't need to be much more than a flatbed with wheels and are ideal for hauling hay or people.


Do you know the name of this tool that is generally used to cut grass?

Everyone recognizes a lawnmower, and farms need them too for mowing down pastures. Most mowers work with a simple spinning metal blade, but a few years back, there were rumors that someone has created a mower that used lasers for cutting.


Which of these is more or less a broom for plants and soil?

A rake is a simple hand tool that dates back centuries. Essentially teeth or tines on the end of a stick, it's handy for pulling together loose stalks of plant matter or, as most people use it, for raking leaves.


With this tool, you can select the highest quality items. Can you name it?

Blemish sorters are tools that help you sort the good from the bad when it comes to produce. If a piece of fruit is bruised, for instance, it gets sorted out of the good produce. This is all done by computers fairly quickly these days.


Which of these ensures plants can grow in the driest climates?

Irrigation changed the nature of agriculture all over the world. Before proper irrigation, there was little a farmer could do to keep their crops alive during a dry season. But with irrigation in place, you can have a green lawn even in the desert.


You'll need this on a dairy farm. Can you tell us what it is?

An automatic milking machine has made the process of milking dairy cows much more feasible on a commercial scale. Imagine trying to meet the world's needs for milk the old fashioned way, milking a cow by hand into a bucket.


Which of these tools loosens soil while only minimally disturbing the surface?

A chisel plow is used for tilling the soil like a lot of other tools, but the difference with the chisel plow is that it's not meant to ruin the surface of the soil. This ensures crop residue stays on top, which is helpful for fertilizing the field.


Can you name this old-school tool that would smooth and loosen soil?

Drag harrows aren't used as often these days as they were in the past as there are more effective tools, like disc harrows, to do the same job. Essentially, it was pulled behind a horse or a tractor and smoothed out the soil by pulling up the loose rocks and dirt clods so they could be later discarded.


Do you know which of these tills the soil and chops up weeds?

A disc harrow looks like a string of saw blades attached to a long arm towed behind a tractor. The discs, set on an angle, till the soil and chop up old weeds. Back in the day, they used to be pulled behind horses.


Using this machine can actually help your tractor get traction in the mud. What is it?

The destoner is a handy device to have. It will remove stones or large chunks of soil from the ridges where crops are planted and transfer them to the furrows between ridges where the tractor tires can use them for some added traction.


Do you know which tool can flatten and break lumps of soil?

A roller is a lot like a steam roller that you might see on the street during construction. Essentially, it's a large flat wheel that's run over a field after it's been tilled to flatten out the sol lumps and break up any large pieces.


Can you name this equipment that is used for very deep tillage of soil?

A subsoiler is used for tilling soil much deeper than a regular piece of equipment like a rototiller might do, hitting depths of around two feet as opposed to the maximum depth of one foot.


Which of these is pretty important for farming something like pecans?

A mechanical tree shaker works as advertised by grabbing the trunk of a tree with a hydraulic arm attachment and shaking the tree. A tarp or net-like attachment will catch all the pecans or fruit that are shaken free and funnel them to a collection bin.


This machine puts things in windrows. Do you know it?

A swather, which is actually called a windrower in some countries, puts your hay or other grains in windrows. Any time you see a field with long, thin trails of grain like big, snaking piles, this is the machine that did it.


People mistake this for a garden fork all the time. Do you know what it really is?

A hayfork or a pitchfork is a tool for moving hay or straw. The long, curved tines and the long handles are what identifies it as a hayfork in particular and what ensures it can do the job or grabbing big piles of loose hay pretty easily.


Which of these pieces of equipment will help you feed your livestock?

A grinder-mixer is a small mill that will, as the name suggests, grind and mix grain to be used as feed for livestock. Just as with people, you don't want your livestock to eat unmilled grain, so this is pretty essential.


Do you know this hand tool that dates back thousands of years?

A sickle is a simple, curved blade used for cutting grain and trimming whatever it is in your garden or farm that might need pruning. Modern farming has created large machines that do essentially the same job, but sickles are still in common use all around the world.


Which tool crimps and crushes hay?

A mower-conditioner, sometimes just called a conditioner or hay conditioner, crimps and crushes newly cut hay. The hay can dry a lot faster as a result, which prevents it from going moldy.


You'd use this machine after you cut some hay. What is it called?

A tedder is a bit of a middle-man in the process of working with hay. After you cut it, but before you bale it or windrow it, you'd use a tedder to separate the stalks of grass so they can dry out properly.


Which of these is sometimes called a chaser bin?

As you might expect from the name, a grain cart is a cart that holds your grain. It's also called a chaser bin, thanks to the fact it follows behind a tractor or other vehicle and it looks like it's chasing the thing.


This smaller cultivator can turn up the soil in a garden. Do you know what it's called?

Rototillers are cultivators that are used for tilling and turning soil. Large scale cultivators tend to be used for larger operations while anything that operates under the name "rototiller" is usually reserved for a bit of a smaller garden.


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