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Farm mechanization for sustainable agriculture

Avatar Sunita Adhikari Poudel
Jul 07, 2020

Mechanization for agriculture production has crucial role for crop quality and yield in unit area. It’s constantly renewing itself, depending on the time with the development of technology. It covers all levels of farming and processing technologies, from simple and basic hand tools to more sophisticated and motorized equipment. It eases and reduces hard labour, relieves labour shortages, improves productivity and timeliness of agricultural operations, improves the efficient use of resources, enhances market access and contributes to mitigating climate related hazards. It considers technological, economic, social, environmental and cultural aspects. It adopts  principles to enable agriculture to be both productive and profitable for farmers and also conserve resources and ecosystem services. It not only includes the use of machines, whether mobile or immobile, small or large, run by power and used for tillage operations, harvesting and threshing but also includes power lifts for irrigation, trucks for haulage of farm produce, processing machines, dairy appliances, oil pressing, cotton ginning, rice hulling, and even various electrical home appliances. Farm tools   and  equipment  are  needed  for  timely completion  of  various  agricultural  operations  and  precise application   of   inputs   to   have   higher   productivity   and profitability and also to reduce the farm workers including  women. Farm holdings are less and source-wise, current power use is mechanical, electrical, animal and human, respectively.

Human power and animal power occupies 36.3 and 40.5 percent of the total farm power available in Nepal respectively. The available mechanical power in Nepal is only 23 %.

Nepal is a small land locked country and agriculture is its backbone.  Most of the mechanical power is concentrated in Terai, it’s 92.28% that of total available mechanical power of Nepal. Nepalese agriculture is subsistence and small holder. Agriculture contributes more or less 36% AGDP and Rice based and maize based cropping systems are dominant in terai and hills respectively.

Importance

Increasing the power supply to agriculture means that more can be completed at the right time and greater areas can be farmed to produce greater quantities of crops while conserving natural resources.

Technologies that are environmentally friendly enables farmers to produce crops more efficiently by using less power. It can also contribute significantly to the development of value chains and food systems as it has the potential to render post-harvest, processing and marketing activities.Women play an important role in many farming based communities, and in some countries, up to 80% of the total farm labour comes from women. Considering Fuel saving. Tractor one axle, 2 axle, Mouldboard plough, Furrow opener plough, Disc plough, Stable disc plough,Cultivator, Soil leveling, Disk harrow, Hay rake  machine, Baler, Maize silage machine, Maize harvester machine, PT Driven sprayer, Motorized knapsack, Sprayer, Centrifugal pomp, Milking machine, Trailer, water tank, Subsoiler. This implies that power sources (human, animal or motor-based) need to be adapted to such necessities from an agronomic, social, cultural and economic point of view. It supports opportunities that relieve the burden of labour shortages and enable households to withstand, adequate conservation agriculture practices, reduce poverty, achieve food security and improve livelihoods.

Strategy

The strategy for mechanization in different provinces will be different depending on the conditions and resources of that region. Considering land holding pattern, the available resources in the region, the population depending on agriculture, the cropping systems, farm power availability and the infrastructural facilities available for agricultural mechanization and agro-processing programmes. Handy portable time, cost saving, better understanding, daily agriculture, life motivating, safety mechanization is required. Agriculture invention like  paper pot transplanter (can reduce transplanting time by 88%), farm bot genesis ( it plants seeds, waters, plants and detect weeds),nanofarm by replantable so that grow food from  comfort, fruit mould (shaping machine). Hedge trimmer( for different shape), the drill till( spot dibbling), forge harvester, manure handling (Balzer1200), Riceharvester(HJ7120), seedplanter(caseIH335), fieldplough(TM130), snowthrower (valtra tractor), wrapping machine( ferouson (4255), corn harvester (6670), baler wrapper (mohale fusion harvester), sugarcane harvester, paper mulch in rice in Japan. Poultry hatchery machine, green tec rotary ditch cleaner with pivoting system GR70 ( for drainage, water channel, biogass slury, pesticides applications, many more purposes), green machines414/RS, stirrer( quick and easy repositing), Kokotech half the cost  of machines with high discharge, can access difficult areas. It has multiple applications eg in  sports fields, lakeshores, seashore, playgrounds, racing tracks. Water free ecopria EA system with self cleaning. Maize shelling cum husk remover machine. Tea and coffee processing technologies, maize seller, cow feeding, leaning farming machines. Coffee is dried in the sun to 12-13% moisture and brought down to 10% by machine. Burlap bags( coffee shipping ), super bag (with liner inside plastic) for rice seed and commercial rice, milled rice storing structures. Availability of adequate farm power for mobile and  stationary  farm  operations  should  be increased. For stationary operations like water    lifting,    threshing,    chaff    cutting,    cane    crushing, cleaning,   grading,   other   agro-processing, value addition   activities, and   adequate   electrical   energy   should   be provided. For this it should be ensured that the farmers get at least 16–20 hours uninterrupted electrical power supply every day.  If  grid  power  availability  is  not  assured,  decentralized power  generation  using  locally  available  materials should  be encouraged in rural areas. Improved agricultural implements and machinery in rice wheat system; Sub-soilers   and   equipment   for   deep   tillage  should   be introduced. Promote zero  till  drills,  strip  till  drills, roto-drills,  till-plant  machines,  raised  bed  planters,  ridger  seeder etc.  and promote of precision drills, planters for all crops e.g. rice and sugarcane. Row planters for cotton and other crops, electronic devices for    identifying    gaps    and    counting    seeds/seedlings    in planters/transplanters. seed    bed    preparation, sowing/planting, weeding/intercultural  operations  etc. It is   needed   for   production agriculture,   post-harvest   management   and   value   addition with   proper blend of conventional and renewable energy sources to achieve higher  goal.

While    mechanization    would    augment    the    agricultural production by 10-15%,  post harvest  management  could  add 5-10% more by reducing losses.

Mechanization of Horticulture Crops  orchard crops-pit making, transplanting of saplings, pruning, spraying  in    tall    crops,    harvesting    of    fruits    etc. Vegetable crops ;  seed  bed  preparation,  planting, transplanting  of  seedlings,  inter  culture,  irrigation,  spraying harvesting, picking/digging, plastic mulch  reduces  water  requirement  and  checks  weed  growth. Plastic tunnels for cultivation of vegetables, cut flowers, Green house for growing, seedlings,   flowers,   high   value   off-season   vegetables   and some fruit crops. Rotavator is used for seedbed preparation, weed control, mixing of soil with crop residue and fertilizer and puddling of the soil. It saves times (30-35%), water (30%) and cost of operation (20-25%) as compared to tillage by cultivator and harrow. Sub-soiler breaks soil hard pan up to a depth of 60 cm and is used for rain water retention and suitable for dryland farming areas, results in increased yield by up to 30%. Zero-Tillage Machine for direct sowing of wheat after rice saves time (50%) and cost (40%). Happy Seeder combines two units, one for straw management and the other one is for sowing wheat after paddy. Green gram can also be sown in summer after wheat in standing stubble which helps in moisture conservation and soil temperature regulation. Raised Bed Former; equipment has been developed to facilitate Furrow Irrigated Raised Bed (FIRB) cropping system for wheat after soybean or maize. It reduces tillage requirement and the subsequent crop can be sown directly on the beds without field preparation. The benefits of the machine are saving of cost of operation (20-30%), seeds (25%), fertilizer (25%) and irrigation water (20-30%). The ridger seeder is suitable for dryland farming. It forms ridges and furrows and does sowing on the ridge or at side of the ridge or in the furrows, as desired. For Kharif crops seeding is done on the ridges in paired  rows system and for rabi crops seeding is done in furrows. It is suitable for planting maize, ragi, gram, pearl millet, etc. There is increase of about 15% in the. Sugarcane Cutter Planter  is suitable for cutting and planting sugarcane setts and application of granular fertilizer in single operation.

The labour requirement and time of operation are reduces by 78% and 50%, respectively.

Automatic Potato Planter is a two-rows or three rows equipment to plant potato tubers of 20-40 mm size at 250-400 mm plant spacing. It can also be used for intercultural and earthing operation. Self propelled vertical conveyor reaper is suitable for harvesting and windrowing cereals and oilseeds crops. It saves 50% labour and cost of operation and 75% operating time. The equipment gives negligible losses for paddy crop and within permissible limit for wheat. Wheat Straw combine machine cuts and gathers the left over straw from the combine harvested field and chops it into fine straw and blows it into a trailer. High capacity multi-crop thresher is suitable for threshing wheat, maize, sorghum, gram, pigeon pea, soybean, sunflower and other crops. It saves 50% labour and time of operation. Pressurized Irrigation System (sprinkler and drip) help to increase yield by 40-50% and also achieve water saving of 30 – 70% depending upon the crop. Sprinkler irrigation can be adopted for almost all crops (except rice and jute) and in various soils and topographic conditions. Drip irrigation is more effective in horticultural crops, cotton and sugarcane.

Scope

We have surplus farm laborers who seasonally unemployed and underemployed. Mechanization would further result in greater unemployment.The holdings are very small, while machines can be used on large farms economically and effectively. Nepalese farmers are largely ignorant and illiterate and have not yet developed mechanization. Logical mechanization, deep ploughing with the help of tractor driven implements, land improvements by land leveling and grading with the help of bulldozers and other heavy machines. Construction of dams and reservoirs, soil and water conservation works such as contouring, terracing, bunding to check the menace of soil erosion. Shifting cultivation. Deep ploughing, chiselling, more draining, lifting water from great depths in the wells. Making roads on the farms, hauling farm produce,processing as rice hulling, oil extraction, sugar cane crushing and decorticating of the groundnuts, plant protection measures. Large co-operative or collective farms. For ploughing of clayey soils, difficult to handle when the time for preparation between crops, or after heavy monsoon rains and before sowing, is too short for effective results by bullock driven implements. Intensive and extensive cultivation in sparsely populated areas. It increases production, efficiency and productivity. It increases the yield of land per unit of area, lower cost of work. It brings in other improvements in agricultural technique, modifies social structure in rural areas, leads to commercial agriculture, solves the problem of labour shortage. It releases human power for non agricultural purposes, results in better use of land, increases farm income, reduces fodder area and enlarges food area. Though difficulties are Nepalese small sized farms, sloopy, steepy, fragmented lands. Uneven ripening of crops. Surplus agricultural workers use of farm machinery may create unemployment only in the short period. In the long run, there will be more employment opportunities. Surplus Cattle. Poor, illiterate and ignorant farmers or the village co-operative society can purchase it and hire it out to farmers. Imports of machines, no increase in productivity of land: In some countries mechanization of farming is not adopted, productivity per hectare has been maximized because of intensive cultivation. Lack of spare parts and service facilities and shortage of power. In some crops manual provide excellent quality control as only the ripe cherries are chosen to be picked than with machine. Land fragmentization, manpower migrating, handy portable less space manual and power driven mechanization is required.

Conclusion

Progress of mechanization of agriculture has a deep rooted impact on the economy of the country. Tractor is the basic mechanical input which largely determines the extent of use of allied machinery and equipment. There was rapid progress in the number of tractor in the country, machines, later electricity driven introduces along green revolution.

Engineering interventions in the form of appropriate tools and technology facilitate in maximizing agricultural productivity and profitability on sustainable basis with a minimum farm workers including women.

There is a need for partnership among various stakeholders.  Knowledge are   needed   for    an    effective   utilization   of    available agricultural technologies and experiences by the farmers, through existing extension services. There are practical difficulties in the way of introduction of the machines on the farms. The Government should provide credit facilities to those farmers who are willing to purchase the machinery individually. Joint farming societies may be developed to serve as machinery co­operatives in the different provinces. Farm system should be developed in different parts to give the tractors and servicing facilities to the farmers on subsidized rates: Where the soil areas will yield for greater increases in food production than is possible with other tillage implements, and where the cultivators have the ability, willingness, and organisation to make effective use of the implements without significant subsidy beyond loans.Where neglected and compacted soils of derelict village commons can be brought into use: and  Where new land development requires heavy initial ploughing. Therefore  Government should extend the scheme gradually on the following lines:Complete mechanization should first be extended to the state farms. The vast, sub-marginal newly reclaimed areas should be brought under mechanization. It should be extended over to such lands where co-operative joint farming societies have been formed. It should also be extend to the co-operative farms which have enough areas in compact blocks and have enough scope for mechanization of agriculture. Private big farmers should be induced to adopt mechanization.

(Sunita Adhikari Poudel, Scientist S1, Regional Agricultural Research Station,Lumle)

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