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Agricultural Engineering and Mechanisation
Mechanised agriculture is the process of using agricultural machinery to mechanise the work of agriculture, greatly increasing farm worker productivity. In modern times, powered machinery has replaced many farm jobs 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. But the on-going integration of machines since the Industrial Revolution has allowed farming to become much less labour-intensive. 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. 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 displace unskilled farm labour and can cause environmental degradation (such as pollution, deforestation, and soil erosion), especially if it is applied short-sightedly rather than holistically.