Mechanised agriculture or agricultural mechanization is the use of machinery and equipment, ranging from simple and basic hand tools to more sophisticated, motorized equipment and machinery, to perform agricultural operations. In modern times, powered machinery has replaced many farm task formerly carried out by manual labour or by working animals such as oxen, horses and mules.
The entire history of agriculture contains many examples of the use of tools, such as the hoe and the plough. The ongoing integration of machines since the Industrial Revolution has allowed farming to become much less labour-intensive.
Agricultural mechanization is part of this technological evolution of agricultural automation. It can be summarized as a progressive move from manual tools to animal traction, to motorized mechanization, to digital equipment and finally, to robotics with artificial intelligence (AI). These advances can raise productivity and allow for more careful crop, livestock, aquaculture and forestry management; provide better working conditions; improve incomes; reduce the workload of farming; and generate new rural entrepreneurial opportunities.
Current mechanised agriculture includes the use of tractors, trucks, combine harvesters, countless types of farm implements, aeroplanes and helicopters (for aerial application), and other vehicles. Precision agriculture even uses computers in conjunction with satellite imagery and satellite navigation (GPS guidance) to increase yields. New digital equipment is increasingly complementing, or even superseding, motorized machines to make diagnosis and decision-making automatic.
Mechanisation was one of the large factors responsible for urbanisation and industrial economies. Besides improving production efficiency, mechanisation encourages large scale production and sometimes can improve the quality of farm produce. On the other hand, it can cause environmental degradation (such as pollution, deforestation, and soil erosion), especially if it is applied shortsightedly rather than holistically.