Diesel engine by the firm Deutz

New Horse Power

First, there was the horse. It delivered one horsepower, which was enough to pull ploughs, harrows and carts across fields from Eastern Westphalia-Lippe to the Eifel. These were attached by means of a horse collar known as a “Kummet”, on display in front of you. The collar was placed across the horse’s chest and shoulders, thus distributing the load as equally as possible. Maximum comfort was provided by leather padding stuffed with straw.

After the Second World War, the diesel engine had its breakthrough as a force of power. This air-cooled engine, seen next to the horse collar, became the trademark of the company Deutz AG in Cologne. Rather than individual horses, tractors with the power of many horses were now pulling the loads across the fields. They were faster and always ready to work; unlike their animal predecessors, they needed no rest. The rise of the diesel tractor triggered the mechanisation of agriculture. This not only lightened the workload, it radically changed working processes. Cows were now milked and eggs gathered by machines. Farms grew larger, could support more animals and till bigger fields – they became large enterprises. The production of pork was particularly industrialised in the Münsterland. Today, all this is referred to as the intensification and industrialisation of agriculture.

The effects were not only positive. Small farms had to yield to large agricultural enterprises. The use of chemicals damaged the environment and so-called land consolidation led to a loss of biodiversity. But new trends are emerging today. Thanks to the increased demand for organic and local products, more and more farms are restructuring their practices.