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Traction engine. Engraving of a steam-driven traction engine used as a soil cultivator. The screw device on the front of the traction engine turned the soil over, trapping pockets of air in the ground. Traction engines were often used to provide power in agriculture before the invention of the internal combustion engine. They allowed the tasks to be completed more quickly than by hand or using animals. Aeration of the ground by the cultivator improved the condition of the soil because it provided air for the roots of plants and increased drainage of water. The value of soil aeration was first realised by Jethro Tull in 1731. Engraving of Rickett's engine of 1858.
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