Computer-aided design, or CAD, is software that lets people make complicated designs that would be difficult to draw by hand. When it comes to farming, engineers use CAD to design everything from wheels to seed drills, building intricate machines that are tough enough to withstand harsh outdoor conditions and heavy use.

Here’s why farmers are increasingly relying on computer-aided design to build their equipment.

The Dawn of Modern Agriculture

Farmers are no longer restricted to manual tools like rakes, shovels, and mule-drawn plows. Since the advent of the tractor in 1892, agriculture has been increasingly industrialized, relying on vehicles and heavy machinery to perform what would otherwise be back-breaking labor.

And for good reason – machines can plant vast numbers of seeds while barely disturbing the soil, fertilize entire fields in an afternoon, and harvest crops with little human input. Automated farm equipment frees up countless hours and may revolutionize the food and textile industry. There’s no turning back.

A New Form of Farming

Agriculture and computers might not seem to mix at first glance. Though machinery now feels as familiar on a farmscape as cattle or sheep, software seems more at home in an air-conditioned office. But computers are at the heart of modern mechanical design.

Farmers and engineers have teamed up to produce cutting-edge equipment via CAD, and it’s making agriculture easier for everyone involved.

For example, by using computer software, designers can create a model for a tiller. Instead of building the machine and testing its efficacy under different soil conditions – for example, seeing if it will fail when tilling compacted soil – engineers can evaluate and tweak the model on the computer first. This saves time, money, and materials, and it extends the life of the machine. It also minimizes the risk of equipment failures that could cause serious injuries.

Farmers can work with a CAD engineer to customize their current equipment, too, to make it more streamlined and efficient. This can be simpler than creating something from scratch. Or, they can approach an engineer with a brand-new design concept in mind and the CAD software can bring it to life. The beauty of CAD is the ability to create customized pieces and make equipment that perfectly suits a farmer’s needs.

Why Is CAD Becoming so Popular?

Drawing a design by hand can take hours. Though the art of drafting blueprints isn’t dead, it’s certainly fallen by the wayside thanks to computers. It’s easy for people to collaborate on a CAD design and visualize exactly what they’re building. Engineers can design a tractor tire and view it from every angle, including what it looks like inside.

Plus, a computer model can be saved and easily shared, unlike a physical blueprint. Erasing a single mistake is as simple as hitting “undo.” Meanwhile, hours’ worth of drawing on paper can be undone with a single cup of spilled coffee. CAD is just more convenient in every way.

In addition to the ease of design, CAD models allow people to nip equipment failures in the bud. Engineers can identify impact responses, temperature distribution, fatigue, and any stress points a machine might have before they build a prototype. They can also use the model as a proof of concept when applying for funding to build the equipment.

Creating Customized Farm Equipment

The image of the quaint pastoral scene isn’t a relic of the past, but it’s getting an upgrade. Today, farmers can take advantage of equipment like tractors, combine harvesters, and automatic irrigation systems to grow large swaths of crops. Engineers are more and more frequently designing and iterating on this machinery using computers.

CAD is here to stay, and it’s paving the way for a new generation of farmers to feed the growing population. And with more mouths to feed than ever before, farmers certainly have their work cut out for them.

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