A swather (also called a "windrower") may be self propelled via an internal combustion engine, or may be drawn by a tractor and powered through a power take-off shaft. A swather uses a sickle bar (see mower) to cut the stems of the crop. A reel helps the cut crop fall neatly onto a canvas or auger conveyor which moves it and deposits it into a windrow, with all stems oriented in the same direction. As combines replaced threshing machines, the swather was needed to replace the binder.
Swathing (windrowing) is more common in the northern United States and Canada. This is because the curing time for grain crops is reduced by cutting the plant stems. In regions with longer growing seasons, grain crops are usually left standing and harvested directly by combines. In the UK they are mainly used to cut crops of oil Seed Rape, which has very long stems. But a lot is also direct cut, but this is slower.
"Swather" is predominantly the North American term for these machines. In Australia and other parts of the world, they are called "windrowers".
Some early machines derived from the cast iron horse draw machines made by Bamford have been preserved. Later they were adapted for use behind early tractors.
- List of Agricultural machinery
- Shelborn Reynolds - Rape swathers
- Bamford - manufacturer of early machines.
wikipedia for basic description.