Steam engines were invented in the late 1700's and applied to moving vehicles by the early 1800's. Later, it's application was put to farming equipment. The application of steam engines was limited because of the enormous weight that was required in the machine. "The introduction of high-pressure boilers in the 1850's did much to lighten engines." (#14, pg. 28) The steam engine enjoyed it's largest amount of use between 1885 and 1914.
The steam engine was first applied in Europe to the threshing process and to drainage pumps. It was not until the 1850 that the Steam Engine first was used in plowing in Europe (17F) "The steam plough, although able to plough ten times the area that horses could plough in a day, was cumbersome and costly, and had only a limited impact on farming in either Europe or the United States. Thus the horse remained the mains source of power until the early twentieth century." (17F, Pg 52)
"The most successful early application of steam in farming was to plowing. Before steam engines were self-propelling, and had to be hauled into position by horses, schemes for using them to haul ploughs across fields by cables had been devised." (#14 pg 67)
Steam engines had their drawbacks. First, boiler explosions were frequently caused by low water and other factors. The Steam engine was also very heavy and often would collapse bridges originally designed for simple horse and carriage.