Berry, George

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b. Missouri, USA fl. 1880s
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American farmer who developed the first steam-powered, self-propelled combine harvester.
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Born in Missouri, George Berry moved to a 4,000 acre (1,600 hectare) farm at Lindsay in California, and between 1881 and 1886 built himself a steam-driven combine harvester. Berry's machine was the first self-propelled harvester and the first to use straw as a fuel. A single boiler powered two engines: a 26 hp (19 kW) Mitchell Fisher engine provided the forward drive, whilst a 6 hp (4 kW) Westinghouse engine drove the threshing mechanism. Cleaned straw was passed by conveyor back to the firebox, where it provided the main fuel. The original machine had a 22 ft cut, but a later machine extended this to 40 ft and harvested 50 acres a day, although on one occasion it achieved the distinction of being the first harvester to cut over 100 acres in one day. The traction engine used for motive power was removable and was used after harvest for ploughing. It was the first engine to be capable of forward and reverse motion.
In later life Berry moved into politics, becoming a member of the California Senate for Inyo and Tulare in the 1890s.
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Further Reading
G.Quick and W.Buchele, 1978, The Grain Harvesters, American Society of Agricultural Engineers (gives an account of combine-harvester development).
AP

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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