What was binder?

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. These bundles were then ‘shocked’ into teepee like groups 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 soon after, William Deering invented a binder that used twine and a knotter (invented by John Appleby). Early binders were horse drawn and powered by a bull wheel. Later models were tractor drawn. It had a reel and a sickle bar, like a modern grain head for a combine. The cut stems would fall onto a canvas, which conveyed the crop to the binding mechanism. This mechanism bundled the grain and tied a piece of twine around the bundle. Once the grain was tied, it was discharged from the back of the binder.

With the replacement of the threshing machine by the combine, the reaper became 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 cut and threshed by a combine in a single operation.