Agricultural Machine Building

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Agricultural Machine Building


the branch of machine building that produces agricultural equipment. The primary objective of agricultural machine building is the full mechanization of agricultural production—that is, the use of machines not only in primary operations but in all intermediate operations for the cultivation of such key crops as grains, corn, sugar beets, potatoes, and cotton and for the storage and preparation of feeds on livestock and poultry farms.

Agricultural machine building began in Great Britain in the early 19th century and in the USA soon after. In the USA the costliness and shortage of manpower necessitated the introduction of machines, especially in the regions of large-scale farming in the western states. By the end of the 19th century France, Sweden, and Germany also had developed agricultural machine-building industries.

In prerevolutionary Russia the great majority of peasants used primitive agricultural tools. According to the 1910 census, peasant farms had 7.8 million sokhi and kosuli (simple wooden plows), 7 million horse-drawn plows, and 752,000 horse-drawn reapers. In 1913 only 180 steam-powered threshers were manufactured. The first enterprises producing agricultural equipment—mostly repair shops of foreign commercial firms—appeared in the 19th century.

After the October Revolution of 1917, planned development of agricultural machine building was initiated by the Decree of the Soviet of People’s Commissars of Apr. 1, 1921, which pointed out that the production of agricultural machines and

Table 1. Production of basic agricultural machines in the USSR
Number of different models produced .....112188388610752
Tractor plows...................38,400121,900149,100211,700218,000
Tractor planters .................21,400118,400111,900163,500178,000
Grain-harvesting combines ..........12,80046,30059,00099,20088,400
Beet-harvesting combines...........1,7004,7009,10015,900
Potato-harvesting combines..........1001007,0008,800
Cotton harvesters ................5004,7003,2005,9007,400
Corn-harvesting combines...........3,6505,10010,100

equipment was of vital importance in strengthening agriculture.

The Soviet state created its own industrial-technical base for a radical reconstruction of all agricultural sectors. Production of tractor cultivators for complete soil tillage began in 1926 at the Krasnyi Aksai Plant. In 1928 the Odessa October Revolution Plant began producing tractor plows. Grain-harvesting combines went into production in 1930, and tractor harvesters for potatoes in 1932. By 1937 the USSR led the world in annual production of grain-harvesting combines, producing 44,000 combines as compared to 29,000 for the USA. The transition to production of machine-drawn implements was practically complete. In 1928 machine-drawn implements accounted for 2.6 percent of production, in 1929,9.2 percent, in 1930,19 percent, and in 1937,91.2 percent.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 many agricultural machine-building plants were switched over to the production of defense goods. A new base of production for agricultural machine building was established in the East, with construction of plants in the Altai region, the Uzbek SSR, the Kazakh SSR, and elsewhere.

Table 2. Production of basic agricultural machines in COMECON countries (1973)
 Tractor plowsTractor plantersGrain combinesSilage combines
Bulgaria ....................3,82020,85325,243
Czechoslovakia ...............5,6665,7952,496
German Democratic Republic.......3,2602,4858,172
Hungary ....................2,5901,147371
Poland .....................28,16632,4026,010

Agricultural machine building has particularly developed since the war (see Table 1). Specialized enterprises include Rostsel’mash in Rostov-on-Don, Altaisel’mash in Barnaul, Tashsel’mash in Tashkent, Riazsel’mash in Riazan’, and L’vovsel’mash in L’vov. Other plants include the October Revolution Plant in Odessa, the Krasnaia Zvezda Plant in Kirovograd, the Taganrog Combine Plant, and the Petrovskii Plant in Kherson. In 1940 machinery production totaled 50 million rubles (expressed in enterprise wholesale prices for July 1, 1955); in 1950, 286 million rubles; and in 1965, 1,461 million rubles. The high growth rate of agricultural machine building made it possible to surpass the US level of production of agricultural equipment by 1962. In 1973 the USSR manufactured 3.4 times as many grain-harvesting combines as the USA, 2.5 times the number of tractor plows, and 4.2 times the number of tractor planters.

Alongside the quantitative growth in production, work has been done to design and build new types of equipment. New equipment has made it possible to increase the mechanization of different sectors of agriculture with due regard for climatic zones. In the period 1971–74 the variety of equipment produced was significantly increased, and more than 300 new models of agricultural equipment were introduced. Agricultural machine building has resolved major technical problems. Machines have been built to cultivate crops on soils subject to wind erosion, to apply mineral fertilizers, and to till the soil. The productivity of new models of plows, planters, fertilizer spreaders, and machines designed to protect plants from pests has been improved by a factor of 1.2 to 1.5. The productivity of potato-harvesting combines, cotton harvesters, pick-up balers, and irrigation machinery has been raised by a factor of 1.4 to 2. The technical-economic indices of machines for harvesting and processing grain crops have also been improved. New grain-harvesting combines, such as the Sibiriak, Niva, and Kolos models, have been put into production. Each year 10 to 13 percent of the models produced are new designs. A transition is being made from individual designing of particular machine models to creating groups of similar machines with base models and modifications.

Much attention is devoted to improving the working conditions of machine operators. Combines have comfortable cabs with hydraulic and automatic devices and special instruments to monitor the function of working elements. In the period 1971–73 the time required for mechanical maintenance of agricultural machinery was cut by a factor of 1.5.

During the 1960’s, raising the technical level and productivity of machinery made it possible to release 2.5 million persons from the agricultural sector.

Agricultural machine building is also developing rapidly in the other socialist countries (see Table 2). Joint efforts by specialists in the USSR, the German Democratic Repubic, the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, and the Hungarian People’s Republic have led to the development of highly productive self-propelled machines for the harvesting of sugar beets, grapes, and tomatoes. Other types of machines have also resulted from these joint efforts.

Among the capitalist countries, agricultural machine building is most highly developed in the USA, which accounts for more than 50 percent of the total agricultural machinery produced in the capitalist countries (see Table 3).

The largest agricultural machinery companies in the USA are International Harvester, Massey-Ferguson, and Allis-Chalmers.

Table 3. Production of basic agricultural machines in developed capitalist countries (1973)
 Tractor plowsTractor plantersGrain combinesSilage combines
*Estimated. **1971. †All types of grain and cotton planters. 1972. ††1972
Federal Republic of Germany.......16,200
France .....................66,90060,2006,100
Great Britain..................2,5002,700**5,600

Major European companies include British Leyland (Great Britain), Renault (France), and Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz (Federal Republic of Germany).


Gosudarstvennyi piatilentnii plan razvitiia narodnogo khoziaistva SSSR na 1971–1975 gody (collection). Moscow, 1972.
Statisticheskii ezhegodnik stran-chlenov Soveta Ekonomicheskoi V zaimopomoshchi, 1974. Moscow, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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