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Enhancing yield with planting machine

By Muhammad Younis

A MAJORITY of farmers still use the conventional crop production technology which result not only in low crop yields but also requires heavy inputs like fuel, labour, irrigation water.

The situation requires farmers and agricultural experts to jointly overcome this problem. In future, only those farming methods and practices would sustain which would conserve resources and give higher cost benefit ratio to their users. The challenges cannot be faced without replacing energy consumptive and inefficient farming operations.

Various studies demonstrate that the soil tillage is one of the most expensive operations in the budget of a farmer. A farmer who wastes his resources by performing uneconomical tillage operations cannot compete in the market.

Evidences also show that many crops can be economically raised with minimum till planting systems without any yield loss provided planting could be accomplished in time and micro-environment is conducive to seed germination and growth.

Keeping in view the need of the farming community, a technically suitable and economically feasible tractor drawn, power-take-off (PTO) driven tiller-cum-seed drill has been designed and developed in the Department of Farm Machinery and Power, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad and tested in paddy vacated fields.

The machine can be operated in previously untilled fields and can drill the crop seeds in one pass operation, thus saving the farmers from drudgery of more operations and minimizing input costs. The newly designed machine is different from zero tillage drill.

The experiments conducted in the untilled paddy fields for planting wheat at different locations showed that with this machine the crop could be planted successfully in nine-inch rows by powered disks revolving at 172 revolutions per minute. The disks are mounted on a shaft ahead of the furrow openers.

The design of the machine is very simple. It is essentially a seven-row seed-cum fertilizer drill with a rotary disk attachment for optimum soil manipulation, running ahead of the furrow openers. The designed machine can be operated with a tractor of at least 50 horse power. In this machine, seven furrow openers are mounted on a mild steel shaft. Reversible shovel type furrow openers are used to open furrows in tilled soil. The spacing between two successive furrow openers may be varied according to the crop being planted.

The machine consists of a zone tillage unit and a seed drilling unit. It can place seeds and fertilizer in the soil simultaneously. The seed and fertilizer boxes are simple fabricated items manufactured by structural steel sheet. The seed and fertilizer boxes are covered at the top to prevent seepage of rainwater into the boxes.

Fluted wheel metering devices moulded from high-density plastic, have been incorporated because of their capability for handling seed and granular fertilizer. Locally available transparent plastic tubes are used to drop seed and fertilizer from their respective boxes. The developed machine is one of its own kinds in the country.

With a little modification, this machine can be used for planting a number of other crops like maize, gram, barley, cotton, and some pulses. Moreover, an extra shaft can be fitted to use the machine as a rotavator, a commonly used tillage implement. Thus, the machine can be used throughout the year.

The machine can sow an area of about 18 acres per day. By using this technology, the savings in diesel fuel, labour, and irrigation water were 75, 50 and 30 per cent respectively as compared to conventional method. Moreover, 14-15 per cent increase in crop yield was also recorded by using the developed machine.

( The writer is a lecturer at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad)

Source: The DAWN;

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