Born in 1831 but still going strong

Cyrus McCormick’s invention of the first successful mechanical reaper in 1831 revolutionised harvesting productivity. Issue Date:16 February 2007



Up until then it took three people to harvest roughly four hectares of crops per day. With the new McCormick reaper, two people could harvest up to 12ha a day.

Cyrus took out a patent and started commercial manufacture of a machine that was an instant success, removing much of the drudgery of farming. The reciprocating or sickle-bar mower became the primary cutting system on grass mowers. This type of cutter bar was subsequently used on self-binders and then on combines, and it is still used for small grain harvesting on all combine harvesters currently in production.

For cutting grass, the sickle bar has been largely replaced by rotary, disc and drum mowers, but discerning farmers who believe that a sickle-bar mower remains the best way to cut grass will be pleased to know that they are still in production.

This type of mower is also a good choice for operators with limited tractor power. The Italian Gaspardo Company makes a range of tractor-mounted mowers with cutting widths from 1 300mm to 2 050mm. Gaspardo’s reciprocating mower is significantly different to the original McCormick patent in that it has a two-motion, two-blade system with a cutting action similar to a pair of scissors.

The blade system guarantees a clean and sharp cut in any type of grass, even when it is damp or flattened. A sickle-bar mower doesn’t raise the dust as the rotary types do in dry conditions, so the hay sample is completely clean and the cutting action ensures quick regrowth as the stems are not frayed.

Another advantage is that it can be operated at an angle. The Gaspardo model FBR will work from 45° above the horizontal to 75° below, making it an invaluable tool for cutting grass banks and canal sides. – Joe Spencer

Contact Chris Hohl on 082 906 0640 , (011) 392 1144 or e-mail [email protected]