Is there a horsepower war in the combine harvester segment? Probably not, but it's more fun if we pretend there is. New Holland Agriculture has thrown down a grainy gauntlet to Claas, John Deere and the rest of the harvesting industry by releasing the CR10.90 – the world's most powerful combine harvester with a chaff-smoking 652 horsepower (486 kW) fit to thresh the plants off the competition.

Combine harvesters have been a very significant part of the global industrial revolution. Consider that back in 1850, more than half of all American workers were farm laborers, doing tedious work like hand-cutting, threshing and winnowing wheat – and coming up with truly awful songs like this one.

Today, the US agriculture sector is exponentially more productive, while using only some 2.4 percent of the workforce, according to the University of California, Riverside.

The combine harvester has saved our species an awful lot of work. Its gigantic cutting head clips the grain-bearing heads off the wheat stalks and sucks them up into a threshing machine that essentially beats the heck out of the wheat ears to knock the grains out. Then it bounces and shakes the wheat around to separate the grain from the husks and fires each bit out a different hole so the grains can be collected for milling, and the chaff can be used as livestock feed or discarded.

The CR10.90 is the new Big Daddy of the combine world, with its 16-liter, six-cylinder inline diesel engine, the Cursor 16, pumping out a massive 652 horsepower (486 kW), and a 14,500 liter grain storage tank.

A machine this large and heavy could easily crush the soil beneath it to the point where growing further crops could be very difficult. So to combat this, New Holland has fitted the CR10.90 with a SmartTrax flexible track fitted with Terraglide suspension – a combination that allows the track to conform to the surface of the field as closely as possible, distributing the harvester's weight over a large, broad footprint.

We look forward to seeing how the CR10.90 performs on the dyno and quarter mile drag strip.

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