Jethro Tull’s seed drill

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A key invention during the British Agricultural Revolution, the seed drill allowed for a semi-automated, controlled distribution and plantation of wheat seed. Designed by renowned agriculturalist Jethro Tull in 1701, the drill went on to spawn many other mechanised planters and ploughs, which many of today’s agricultural tools and vehicles are descendents of.

The drill – which was made from elm wood and consisted of a wheeled wooden frame – worked by carving three channels into the earth into which seeds were dropped from containers at regular intervals. The seeds, once dropped by the horsedrawn drill, were then covered by the harrow (a trailing bar), which gathered soil and evenly deposited it over the channels. For a detailed breakdown of Tull’s seed drill, check out the accompanying illustration.