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Development of Combine Harvester in Europe

Dateļ¼š 3/22/2012 6:50:55 PM

Combine harvesters make a substantial contribution to food production worldwide – virtually no other invention has had the kind of impact on world food production that this agricultural machine has had.

The combine harvester came onto the agricultural scene in Europe in the summer of 1936. A number of American combine harvesters, also tractor-trailed, had been used in Europe as early as the 1920s, but these machines proved a complete failure. The compact, often damp or flat-lying European crops proved unsuitable for the American machines, which were used to the much less demanding harvesting conditions of the wide-open fields of the American Mid-West. A widespread bias soon developed among hands-on farmers and agricultural scientists in Europe that a combine harvester approach as pioneered in the United States would not be suitable for European cereals harvesting, with its long straw, and often weed-infested characteristics.

The breakthrough came in 1936 with a trailed combine harvester with side-mounted cutterbar. Claas unveiled his model at the Zschernitz Manor before a large number of learned and also highly sceptical farmers from the central German regions; the first fully functional reaper-binder to be manufactured in Europe. Provided all went to plan, the machine facilitated a daily harvesting output of 600 hundredweight (30 tones) of wheat. In the following six years, a further 1,450 prototypes of the successful machine were manufactured

The first self-propelled combine harvester, i.e. with integrated engine, was launched on the market by CLAAS in 1953. This self-propelled harvesting system went on to prove its worth time and again. In the following decades, CLAAS developed ever more efficient combine harvester machines for all types of cereal, all climatic conditions and for fields across the globe.

Today, 76 years on from the invention of the combine harvester, CLAAS remains far and away the market leader in Europe – around one in three combine harvesters sold across Europe is manufactured in Harsewinkel.