A tractor is an engineering vehicle specifically designed to deliver a high tractive effort (or torque) at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture or construction. Most commonly, the term is used to describe a farm vehicle that provides the power and traction to mechanize agricultural tasks, especially (and originally) tillage, but nowadays a great variety of tasks. Agricultural implements may be towed behind or mounted on the tractor, and the tractor may also provide a source of power if the implement is mechanised.
The word tractor was taken from Latin, being the agent noun of trahere “to pull”. The first recorded use of the word meaning “an engine or vehicle for pulling wagons or ploughs” occurred in 1901, displacing the earlier term “traction engine” (1859).
The plough (BrE) or plow (AmE; see spelling differences; /ˈplaʊ/) is a tool (or machine) used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting.
It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture. The primary purpose of ploughing is to turn over the upper layer of the soil, bringing fresh nutrients to the surface, while burying weeds, the remains of previous crops, and both crop and weed seeds, allowing them to break down. It also aerates the soil, allows it to hold moisture better and provides a seed-free medium for planting an alternate crop.
In modern use, a ploughed field is typically left to dry out, and is then harrowed before planting.
Modern competitions take place for ploughing enthusiasts like the National Ploughing Championships. Ploughs were initially pulled by oxen, and later in many areas by horses(generally draught horses) and mules. In industrialised countries, the first mechanical means of pulling a plough were steam-powered (ploughing engines or steam tractors), but these were gradually superseded by internal-combustion-powered tractors. In the past two decades plough use has reduced in some areas (where soil damage and erosion are problems), in favour of shallower ploughing and other less invasive tillage techniques.