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While the [[Sumerians]] used primitive single-tube seed drills around 1500 BC, the invention never reached Europe. Multi-tube iron seed drills were invented by the Chinese in the 2nd century BC.<ref name="temple">Temple, p.25</ref> This multi-tube seed drill has been credited with giving China an efficient food production system that allowed it to support its large population for millennia.<ref name=temple /> It has been conjectured that the seed drill was introduced in Europe following contacts with China.<ref name="temple" />
The first known European seed drill was attributed to Camillo Torello and patented by the Venetian Senate in 1566. A seed drill was described in detail by Tadeo Cavalina of [[Bologna]] in 1602.<ref name="temple" /> In [[
Over the years seed drills have become more advanced and sophisticated but the technology has remained substantially the same. The first seed drills were small enough to be drawn by a single horse but the availability of steam and, later, gasoline tractors saw the development of larger and more efficient drills that allowed farmers to seed even larger tracts in a single day. Recent improvements to drills allow seed-drilling without prior tilling. This means that soils subject to erosion or moisture loss are protected until the seed germinates and grows enough to keep the soil in place. This also helps prevent [[soil loss]] by avoiding erosion after tilling.