Farm Equipment


The first settlers used equipment that was pulled by oxen or horses. Breaking the land, planting and harvesting crops, and building the homestead was hard work.


A cart or wagon would be pulled behind horses or oxen to move materials or people.

A team of horses is pulling a wooden wagon.

Horse and Cart.


A plow was a sharp blade that would cut through the soil to prepare the land for seeding. There were various forms of wooden plows that were pulled by horses or oxen. The farmers had to push the blade into the ground and it was hard work!

With the invention of the tractor, the design of the plows also changed. In 1837, John Deere invented a steel plow that was much stronger and could be pulled by a tractor.

Families or neighbours would sometimes work together to tend the land, as shown in this photo where there are a number of plows working at once and progress is still slow.

This farmer is demonstrating how a tractor and plow can be used to break up the soil.



A harrow looked like a large rake with rows of teeth. It was pulled over the soil to break up large lumps and flatten out the ground.

Farmers would walk behind their team of horses all day in the fields. This photo shows a team of horses pulling a harrow in 1940.


Steam Engine

In 1869, a steam engine for agriculture was invented in the United States and some were brought to the Prairies. The steam engine helped reduce manual labour and dependence on horses. However, it was difficult to use for most farm tasks. Another problem was that it has hard to find engineers to operate them. Only the larger farms used these heavy machines.

These three men are operating a steam engine tractor that is pulling a plow.

These three men are operating a steam engine tractor that is pulling a plow.

This young boy gives some good tips about how a steam engine tractor works.

A steam engine could turn 5 acres per hour compared to one acre per hour with horses.


Tractors with gasoline engines became more available to Saskatchewan farmers after 1917. When tractors were first mass produced, it was mainly only the large farmers that could afford them. As tractors became widely available, the labour required to run farms was greatly reduced. As farms used more mechanized equipment, like tractors, they were able to become larger and more efficient.

These settlers are plowing the prairie soil with a tractor and a plow.

This seeder is being pulled by a tractor in May 1947.


Seed Drill

The seed drill was invented in 1701, by Jethro Tull. It replaced farmers walking with a bag of seed and scattering the seed on the ground.

Seeders were pulled by horses or oxen and would dig into the soil, drop seeds in a line, and push the soil back into place. This improved the germination of seeds. Seeders were filled with seeds and became very heavy to pull.

This set-up consists of a tractor, plow, packer, disc, and seed drill. This settler is breaking the prairie soil and seeding the crop with one unit. The photo was taken in 1910.

An illustration of a man riding on a seeder as it is pulled by two horses is shown.

This seed drill is being pulled by two horses and is used to plant seeds in the soil.

Threshing Machine

Threshing machines eliminated the task of threshing by hand, which was a lot of heavy-duty work for settlers. Farmers would throw the stooks or piles of cut crops into the threshing machine. The machine had rotating blades which knocked the kernels from the rest of the stalk without crushing them.

This farmer is running a threshing machine near Speers, SK in 1928.

The kernels passed through shaking screens, separating the kernels from all of the chopped up straw (called chaff). The grain kernels were measured and dumped into sacks or conveyed to a granary. The straw and chaff were blown out onto a straw stack by a larger, stronger blower.

A tractor is hooked up to a threshing machine to provide it with power to thresh the grain. A farmer is standing on top of a full hay cart and using a pitchfork to transfer the hay from the cart to the threshing machine. Another man is sitting on a hay cart that is being pulled by two horses.

Threshing machines were often used by crews of men at harvest to eliminate threshing the crop by hand.

The first threshing machines were powered by horses walking on a treadmill. Further improvements were made to threshing machines until 1890 when steam engines replaced horses. In 1915, tractors with engines were used to power threshing machines.

An illustration is showing four men working next to a threshing machine. They are using pitchforks to transfer crops into the threshing machine.

Threshing machines were a major advancement in agriculture in the early 1900s.