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The reaper-binder, or binder, was a farm implement that improved upon the reaper. The binder was invented in 1872 by Charles Withington. In addition to cutting the small-grain crop, it would also tie the stems into small bundles, or sheaves. These sheaves were then 'shocked' into conical stooks, resembling small tipis, to allow the grain to dry for several days before being threshed.
Withington's original binder used wire to tie the bundles. There were various problems with using wire and it was not long before William Deering invented a binder that used twine and a knotter (invented in 1858 by John Appleby).
Early binders were horse-drawn and powered by a bull wheel. Later models were tractor-drawn. The implement had a reel and a sickle bar, like a modern grain head for a combine harvester, or combine. The cut stems would fall onto a canvas, which conveyed the crop to the binding mechanism. This mechanism bundled the stems of grain and tied a piece of twine around the bundle. Once tied, it was discharged from the back of the binder.
With the replacement of the threshing machine by the combine harvester, the binder became almost obsolete. Some grain crops such as oats are now cut and formed into windrows with a swather. With other grain crops such as wheat, the grain is now mostly cut and threshed by a combine in a single operation, while the binder is still in use at small fields or outskirts of mountain areas.
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