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What Are The Metals Used In The Agricultural Industry?


Agriculture is one of the most important industries in the world, with industrial specialization, it provides almost all of the food we consume. Despite this, profit margins are becoming ever slimmer for those operating farms, as large retailers push for lower prices.

It’s critical then, that as many efficiencies are made in agriculture as possible, through things like increased production or longer lasting infrastructure. In this article we explore how modern metals impact the agriculture industry.

How Have Metals Impacted the Agriculture Industry?

Before the turn of the 20th century, farming was predominantly achieved by way of horse-power using forged and cast equipment. Both severely limited the scale and speed of farm operations.

The development of diesel and petrol tractors in the early 1900’s led to a marked change in how farming was powered, allowing longer days and more productive processes. So too did welded implements, drastically reducing the cost of equipment.

One of the big contributors to this leap forward was the development of new steel-making processes, namely the Bessemer process, commercialized in the late 1860’s.

Development of steel has not been the final stage of growth for agriculture; further improvements to fabrication efficiency, materials science and manufacturing speed have all contributed to the literal growth of farming equipment.

Farming Efficiencies Through Materials Science

Farming equipment has continually grown in size over the last 100 years, the main reason for which being efficiency. Larger equipment such as plows, seed drills and sprayers can farm land in much less time than older machinery.

Despite having larger engines and more mass, modern machinery is more efficient per acre farmed than older machinery, this coupled with the massive time and therefore labor savings makes the huge tractors and equipment we see on farms today make sense.

These efficiencies have been achieved through better materials, manufacturing techniques and technology. With production lines being able to produce more complex assemblies and materials and design of equipment being able to withstand higher forces, physically larger equipment can be realized.

Stainless Steel

Advancements in fabrication and welding of stainless steel allowed the mass  commercialization of the dairy industry. Prior to the introduction of stainless steel processing systems for milk handling and storage, operations could not be feasible on larger scales.

The hygienic quality, through its anti-corrosion properties of stainless steel allow systems to handle perishable liquids such as dairy products, without ever needing more than mild cleaning.

Mild Steel

First made commercially available in 1885, the Bessemer process revolutionized the making of Mild Steel. Prior to this, it was only used for swords or other small, expensive items. Cast or Wrought Iron was instead the structural material of choice, whilst strong, iron is harder to manufacture and repair.

Many different steelmaking processes have been invented and commercialized since then, allowing the quality and reliability of the product produced to increase immeasurably. Modern steels can be stronger and more corrosion resistant than those produced in the early 1900s, allowing for efficiency in manufacture and longevity.

Along with agricultural tooling and implements, building design changed rapidly over the 20th century. Whereas farm buildings would predominantly be made from wood or brick, steel framed structures could be put up faster and with less maintenance requirements.

Advantages of Pre-Engineered Steel Agricultural Buildings

Prior to pre-fabricated steel buildings, large size buildings such as barns, or sheds would be made from wood or brick and mortar. Prefab steel allows the off-site fabrication of beams and columns that can be quickly erected on site.

Speed of Construction

Wood and concrete buildings require labor intensive tradespeople to erect, resulting in a long, expensive process. As they are often clad in steel sheeting, a pre-engineered building of 1200sqft+ can be erected and clad in a matter of weeks, whereas a traditional building would take months.

Durability

Another benefit of using a prefabricated building is that they are more durable than wooden structures, and require less maintenance than brick built, with no paint or mortar to maintain.

Steel framed, and steel clad structures can stand for many years with little to no maintenance. Protection of the cladding sheets is usually achieved via paint, and the steelwork itself by galvanizing.

Cost

Because of the speed of manufacture and erection, a steel framed building can work out cheaper that a comparable wooden or concrete alternative, especially with the ongoing maintenance costs taken into account.

Adaptability and Versatility

Thanks to pre-engineered buildings being both easy to waterproof and insulate, they can be used for all manner of applications, from office buildings to industrial manufacturing spaces to agricultural storage and processing areas.

Another benefit of the steel frame construction is the ease of modification and adaptation. Doorways can be added, lean-tos or annexes can be built, without much disruption to the core structure, and are just as easy to make good for waterproofing and security.

Fire Resistance

Steel does not succumb easily to fire, certainly not as easily as wooden buildings, or concrete buildings with timber roof structures. Fire resistance is one of the main advantages to using steel pre-engineered buildings.

Steel for Your Agriculture Project

It’s clear then, that for making the most cost effective, strong and durable agricultural implements, buildings and processing facilities, steel is the best bet. For food processing including dairy, stainless steel is vital to retaining hygiene standards and ease of cleaning.

Whatever the metal, and whatever the project, Metals Supermarkets has you covered, with hundreds of stores nationwide, and a great selection of materials in stock for next day delivery, check out our products here.


Metal Supermarkets

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Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with 125 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.

At Metal Supermarkets, we supply a wide range of metals for a variety of applications. Our stock includes: mild steel, stainless steel, aluminium, tool steel, engineering steel, brass, bronze and copper.

We carry a wide range of shapes including: bars, tubes, sheets and plates. We can cut metal to your exact specifications.

Visit one of our 8 locations in the United Kingdom today.

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