In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Present Status of Farm Mechanization in India 2. Future Requirement of Advance Technology and Farm Equipments for Effective Mechanization 3. Emerging Trends.
Present Status of Farm Mechanization in India:
Present status of farm mechanization in India can be viewed under the following general categories:
1. Improved manual tools
2. Animal drawn improved implements
3. Tractors and matching implements
4. Custom hiring service.
1. Improved Manual Tools:
Improved manual tool plays important role in minimizing the physical strain on the worker. It increases the output of work, per unit time. This category includes sickles, Khurpi, pruning knives, wheel hand hoe, long handle hoes, manually operated seed drills and many such items. The manual tools vary in their size and design to some extent according to local condition.
2. Animal Drawn Improved Implements:
More than 80% farmers depend upon animal drawn implements. Improved implement increases the output and quality of work. This includes improved steel ploughs, cultivators, harrows, seed drill, seed-cum fertilizer drills, multipurpose toolbar, bakhar, puddlers, levellers, improved carts, scrapers and many other implements. At present a large number of animal drawn implements are manufactured by local firms.
Traditionally, soil stirring and mould board ploughs are used by farmers having animals as power source. The field capacity of traditional implements is about 0.3-0.4 ha/day and thus work output is low.
Animal drawn disc harrows were subsequently introduced. These harrows have either four or six discs, depending upon the size of draft animals.
The design of harrow was further modified and drum was introduced in between two discs instead of spool and known as “Harrow puddler”. The presence of the drum, limit sinkage of the discs up to 125 mm during puddling operation. The result is that even medium sized draught animal can pull the implement. During dry seed bed operation, the drums break soil clods and facilitate easy seed bed preparation. This saves time and energy to a great extent.
The area under hill agriculture Diara, Tal, shifting cultivation is not very suitable for use of heavy mechanical power.
The farmers in this region mainly depend upon human and draught animals. But gradually mechanical power is increasing day by day.
Tractor is an important machine, used for farm mechanization. About 10% area of the country are covered by tractor operated implements only.
The production of indigenous tractors started in India in 1961. M/s Eicher Good earth Ltd. is the first tractor manufacturer in India.
Due to increased cropping intensity, animate power (human + animal) is not adequate to ensure timeliness in field operation, so mechanical powers like tractors, power tillers, engines and electric motors are gainfully utilized for field operations. Tillage, irrigation and threshing operations require higher energy, so these operations are gradually being performed by mechanical power. Seed bed preparation takes about 10-25 percent of the energy used in field operation.
Energy efficient equipments (Tractor drawn) are:
2. Disc harrow
4. Cultivator with pulverizing roller and clod crusher attachment.
Tractor drawn rotavator is energy efficient equipment; it saves 32-35% time and energy in heavier soils. It is not owned by all tractor owning farmers because of its high cost.
2. Disc Harrow:
It is very popular implement for seed bed preparation. It is used under all conditions.
3. Cultivator with Pulverizing Roller and Clod Crusher:
It is an attachment, developed for the conventional tractor drawn cultivator. It is attached behind the cultivator. This helps in breaking soil clods and makes seed bed preparation easy and speedy. This is very popular among the farmer due to its cheapness, usefulness and simplicity.
i. Timeliness of operation for higher yield
ii. Effective utilization of inputs like Land, Water, Seed, Fertilizer, and Chemicals.
iii. Increase in productivity of land and labour
iv. Improvement in quality of work done
v. Reduction of wastage of produce during harvesting and threshing
vi. Reduction in drudgery of farmers
vii. Increase in safety and comfort of farmers.
4. Custom Hiring Service:
The farmers who do not have their own tractors, combines, threshers and other machines try to hire machines for their own use on payment basis. Giving or taking services of machines on payment basis is called ‘custom hiring service’.
Custom hiring work is being done by state Agro Industries corporations, government agencies, co-operative societies and private machine owners. Tractors are utilized for hot weather ploughing, seed bed preparation, ridge making, leveling, land reclamation and many similar jobs. Custom hiring is also done for combines, thresher, irrigation pumps, sprayers dusters, winnowers etc.
At present even small and marginal farmers are inclined towards custom hiring due to the following reasons:
i. Small size of land ownership.
ii. Drudgery consciousness of new generation.
iii. High maintenance cost of draft animals.
iv. Easy availability of machine in the area.
Custom hiring service encourages use of big machines due to following considerations:
i. Large size machines have lower expenditure per unit output.
ii. Easy to operate for custom hiring work profitably.
iii. Matching large size prime movers to have higher overall efficiency.
1. There is need to develop multi-functional machines which can save time and energy to maintain timeliness in farming operations.
2. Extensive development of drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation equipments for water economy.
3. Development of combination machinery like:
(a) Minimum tillage
(b) Zero tillage
(c) Till planter
(d) Roto planter
(f) Efficient harvesting and threshing
(g) Effective rice transplanter
4. Development for better utilization of solar energy, wind energy and biofuels.
5. Efficient fuel utilization of mechanical power sources through better design and matching machinery.
6. Rain water needs to be harvested, conserved against seepage and evaporation and efficiently utilized.
7. Low cost micro irrigation and sprinklers, using surface water needs to be developed and commercialized.
Future Requirement of Advance Technology and Farm Equipments for Effective Mechanization:
Advance technology is needed for effective mechanization in India. This includes information technology as well as improved farm machines, designed and developed in different parts of the country. Steps have to be taken with clear concept of future thrust of mechanization. Brief details of techniques and farm machines are given here which are contributing much for boosting farm mechanization in the country.
Future Thrust Areas of Mechanization:
(i) Development of precision mechanization systems for timely and efficient agricultural operation.
(ii) Development of mechanization system for dry land agriculture, hill agriculture, horticulture livestock and fisheries.
(iii) Minimization of occupational hazards and maximization of work efficiency.
(iv) Development of implements and machines suited to women farm worker.
(v) Energy management, processing of bio fuels and utilization of non- conventional energy sources in agricultural production and processing activities.
(vi) Reduction of post-harvest losses, value addition to agricultural produce and utilization of agricultural residues and processing by products.
Green House and Low Tunnel Cultivation:
Low tunnel structures and greenhouse increase productivity in all seasons. They control micro climates related to light, temperature and air composition within the covered structure. For maintaining green house, polyethylene/polyvinyl chloride film/acrylic polycarbonate sheet or UV stabilized plastic films are used.
They are preferred due to their lightness, flexibility mobility and being more resistant to hail. They require simple frame work for the structure.
These coverings act like selective radiation filter which allows solar radiation to pass through but traps the thermal radiation emitted by the objects. It is mostly used for vegetables, fruits and flowers. It is advantageous compared to open field. It maintains uniform production condition and gives very higher yield, maintaining quality also.
Crop Modeling and Crop Planning:
With the advent of satellite technology in the world, there is greater use of:
(i) GPS (Global Positioning System,
(ii) GIS (Geographical Information System)
(iii) UTM (Universe Transverse Marketer) Geographical Information System (GIS) is a multi-disciplinary science.
It is recognized as a cost effective management and planning tool for modeling and optimization of soil, water, and plants. It is helpful in decision making process of farm mechanization.
Global Positioning System (GPS) provides the position of a point on earth surface with reference to a mapping reference system such as Universe Transverse Marketer (UTM). GPS is utilized now a day as a modern technique in the field of surveying, mapping and preprocessing of satellite data for geometric corrections.
The major applications of GIS integrated with satellite remote sensing and GPS in the field of crop modeling crop planning include identification of water resources and assessment of water availability water distribution and irrigation scheduling.
At present GIS in integration with satellite remote sensing and GPS is being used for planning and monitoring of major agricultural crops such as wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane in the country under Crop Area and Production Estimation (CAPE) programme of Department of Space, Govt. of India. This is helpful in planning of advance mechanization techniques for food, feed and fibre.
Crop Residue Management (CRM):
Crop residue management (CRM) is a widely used conservation practice. Crop residue provides significant quantities of nutrients for crop production. Crop residues affect water movement, infiltration, run off and water quality. At the time of using conservation tillage methods, most crop residues are retained on the soil surface.
They are not incorporated in soil by tillage operation crop residue mulches may increase infiltration by reducing surface sealing and decreasing run off velocity. Crop residue reduces both wind and water erosion. Adopting CRM practices can significantly improve soil quality, reduce soil erosion and run off, enhance moisture retention, lower summer soil temperature reduce the trips across the field, and reduce machinery cost. Thus there is increase in net return to the farmer.
There are three keys to conservation agriculture such as:
1. Minimal soil disturbance
2. Continuous residue cover
3. Diverse rotations and/or cover crops
Crop biomass is generally 40 to 50% carbon. An abundance of carbon is added to the soil through crop residues. Since organic matter (OM) is known to maintain soil aggregate stability, the addition of crop residues should improve soil structure and aggregation. The soil organic carbon (SOC) pool is estimated to compose about two thirds of the terrestrial biosphere carbon pool. Increasing SOC storage requires increased carbon input via plant biomass production and decreased carbon loss as CO2 from less intensive tillage practices to suppress the decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM).
Soil organic carbon (SOC) storage in cropland soils is determined by the amount and placement of the crop residues.
Roto tillage is done by rotavator, which combines primary and secondary tillage in one operation. The rotavator is powered by tractor PTO. When the rotavator works in the field, it exerts forward push on the tractor for better traction. There is saving of 60-70 percent operational time and 55-65 percent fuel consumption with single rotavation, compared to conventional method of seedbed preparation. It also helps in conservation of moisture due to destruction of capillaries.
Till Plant Machine:
It is minimum tillage equipment, capable of sowing and applying fertilizer without prior preparation of seedbed. The soil working tools (sweep, shovel or rotavator) are mounted on a frame in front of furrow openers to remove weeds and open passage for the seeds to be placed in soil in one operation.
Strip Till Drill:
In this machine, seeds are drilled directly in a narrow tilled strip in a single pass. It avoids undesirable compaction of soil in the crop rows. It is more suitable for subsequent crops after rice/soyabean for timely planting in a single operation. The system comprises of a seed-cum fertilizer drill with a rotary attachment fixed ahead of the furrow openers for soil manipulation in strips. The rotary attachment consists of a rotor with flanges in which tines (blades) are mounted.
The spacing between the flanges is the same as row spacing of the crops to be planted. Power to the rotor is provided from the tractor PTO.
Inclined Plate Planter:
It facilitates uniform placement of single seed in soil and therefore helps in saving of costly seed. It avoids problem of thinning the plant population. The individual plant gets the required nutrient, water and sunlight. The unit consists of individual seed boxes, furrow openers, and transmission system with ground drive wheel.
The seed boxes are of modular design with independent inclined plate type seed metering mechanism.
The seed boxes are bolted to furrow openers. The furrow opener assemblies are adjustable for crop row spacing and work as a modular unit for sowing in each row. The planter is suitable for maize, pigeon pea, soyabean, etc. For a six row tractor mounted unit the field capacity is about 0.60 ha/h.
Pneumatic Precision Planter:
This planter is used to place uniform seeds, maintain fixed row spacing. It has provision for drilling fertilizers simultaneously with seed. It consists of pneumatic disk and suction type seed metering mechanism. It can be used for different crops by changing the disc.
Sugarcane Sett Cutter Planter:
It consists of a carriage, having an operator seat, sett cutter, two seed boxes, a rectangular box for fertilizer, a chute for seed dropping and a pesticide tank. It is operated by a 45 hp tractor. As the equipment moves forward, the share-point opens the furrow, the operator drops the setts through the chute, pesticide is sprinkled and the fertilizer is applied.
The machine plants the setts end to end. In semiautomatic design, it uses a rotating drum for each row with vertical compartments in it for feeding the setts. The set is carried by the rotating drum till it aligns with the opening, provided in the stationary bottom plate under the drum. It can cover about 0.20 ha / h in smooth field.
It is used for direct seeding of paddy in puddle soil. It gives faster and easier planting in the field. There is less drudgery in working with the machine. Pre-germinated seeds (24h soaking + 12-24h incubation) are sown in puddle soil (1-2 days after puddling). Water should be drained from the field before seeding and the puddle bed should be firm enough to support the seeder and to make shallow furrows for sowing. The seed rate depends on the rate of revolution of drums and is normally 50-70 kg/ha.
Potato Planter is used to facilitate furrow opening, tuber placement and cover the soil simultaneously. Belt with cup type and picker type tuber metering systems are available for seeding. The picker has 12 notches, spread uniformly on its periphery for holding an equal number of grab for picker arm.
The picker arm opens out approaching picking chamber and picks up seed potato for subsequent release. The field capacity of the machine with two ridges varies from 0.20 to 0.40 ha/h with tuber distance of200- 450 mm row spacing of600 mm and depth of planting of 100-200 mm. The automatic unit saves 50-60 percent labour, 80-85 percent operation time and 50-60 percent cost of operation, compared to conventional method.
Vegetable transplanting is normally carried out manually all over the country. Labour requirement varies from 10-30 man-days per hectare. For onion the labour requirement varies from 50-100 man-days/ha. In semi-automatic vegetable transplanter, feeding of seedling is done manually. Furrow opening and placing the seedlings in furrows is done by machine, bare root nursery and cup type nursery can be used. The bare root nursery is at present popular in India. Mechanical transplanters are generally tractor operated multirow models or self-propelled one row model.
Transplanting of rice is mostly done by hand in India. About 25-30 man- days are required for transplanting one hectare of paddy by hand using root wash nursery. Self-propelled rice transplanter (8 rows, single wheel, driven by 3 hp diesel engine) with three persons transplant nearly one hectare a day using mat type seedlings.
This equipment consists of a 5 hp light weight diesel engine, mounted on the frame. The engine power is transmitted to the ground wheels and rotary unit through gear reduction unit. The wheel setting is done as per crop row spacing. The rotary unit can be engaged/disengaged through the actuating clutch.
The rotary weeder consists of discs, mounted with curved blades in opposite directions alternatively in each disc. The rotating blades enable cutting of weeds and mixing it with soil. The width of coverage is about 350mm with a suitable device for depth adjustment.
Plastic mulching is used to conserve soil temperature and moisture under adverse condition. For plastic mulching, suitable bed is prepared and plastic is laid by a machine (Tractor or power tiller operated). At present, mulch layers are commercially available in several countries. Vegetable transplanters and some other planters are designed to operate through plastic mulches.
Tractor mounted orchard sprayer with air assisted rotary atomizer has been found suitable for spraying of fungicides on small berries and mango trees up to 6m height. The sprayer consists of a fluid tank, atomizer with hydraulic motor and a flow control value. The flow control valve adjusts from low to high volume application. The equipment is operated by a 35 hp tractor. It can cover 0.20 to 0.50 ha/h with 3 m penetration of droplets inside plant canopy.
Self-Propelled High Clearance Sprayer:
It is a self-propelled unit, suitable for spraying on tall crops like cotton. The machine consists of two rear steered wheels and two front lugged wheels which is powered with a 20 hp diesel engine through a gear box, tank, hydraulic pump and boom fitted with 15 nozzles. It can cover about 0.20 ha/h.
High Capacity Multicrop Thresher:
It consists of a spike tooth cylinder, three numbers of aspirator blowers, cleaning sieves and automatic feeding and bagging system. The thresher is provided with accessories for threshing of wheat, maize, sorghum, pigeon pea, soyabean and sunflower crops. There is saving of about 50% labour and 50% operational cost, compared to conventional spike tooth thresher.
High Capacity Pigeon Pea Thresher:
It consists of automatic chain conveyor type feeding mechanism. Only pod portion of plant bundles are fed continuously to the cylinder one after another through chain conveyor and threshed bundles are discharged through other end after stripping and threshing of pods. Thus intact bundle with long stem are obtained with increased capacity. The cleaning and separating systems is as per conventional design of thresher, having aspirator, blower.
Mechanical Cotton Picker:
It is a self-propelled two row unit provided with spindle type picking mechanism. Hand picking of cotton requires about 460 labour hours per hectare. Due to non-availability of labourers in time, the cotton picking is delayed, causing about 15 percent field losses and affecting the overall quality of cotton balls. So, mechanical cotton pickers are adopted by the farmers.
Tractor Mounted Potato Digger Elevator:
Potato digger elevator consists of digging blade, endless rod chain conveyor and gauge wheels. The elevator is driven by tractor PTO. It is suitable for digging and exposing the tubers. With 600 mm width of cut (one row) the field capacity of the machine is about 0.15 ha/h.
Emerging Trends in Farm Mechanization:
Emerging trends in farm mechanization are briefly described below:
1. Demand is increasing for riding type farm equipments and power tillers with comfortable seat for operator.
2. Advance type of yokes and harness for comfort of animals are getting popularity.
3. Small engines 1 to 3 hp for hand held and knapsack power operated equipments for pruning, hedge trimming, tree felling, cutting of bushes, tea harvesting, spraying and dusting are preferred.
4. Modern trend is there to encourage production of bio fuels – alcohol from sugarcane molasses, corn cobs and non-edible vegetable oils for bio-diesels to reduce dependence on petroleum products.
5. Alternate energy sources like producer gas from crop residues, rice husk, groundnut shell and other such items are getting popularity.
6. Light weight power tillers for hill agriculture, terraced farming using diesel and bio fuels are in demand.
7. Single run farm machines for completing field operations are getting good acceptance by the farmers.
8. High speed machinery for tillage, sowing and planting using rolling, rotary and vibratory actions are preferred.
9. Custom hiring of tractors and other farm machines is proving more useful to small and medium farmers.
10. Microprocessor controlled equipment for land grading, seeding and transplanting operations are to be encouraged.
11. Use of plastics for manufacture of hoppers, handle grips, conduits, tubings, metering devices and surface coating are items for encouragement.
12. Rotary tillage, conservation tillage and raised bed systems are to be encouraged for efficiency and economy.
13. Manually operated and self-propelled rice transplanters and mat type nursery, dry drilling of paddy, paddy seeder with peregrinated seed are getting popularity among farmers.
14. Zero till drill, raised bed planters in rice – wheat are useful machines.
15. Mechanical weeders are preferred these days.
16. Sugarcane planters doing all operations in one go is in demand these days.
17. Drills and planters for direct seeded vegetables are to be encouraged.
18. Polyhouse nursery is also useful these days.
19. Sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation & sub surface drainage are important aspects of encouragement.
20. Wide boom, high ground clearance sprayers, tall tree sprayers, dusters, turbofan power sprayer and aero blast sprayers are coming in greater use.
21. Mechanical harvesting is preferred these days. It may be walking type, riding type, power-tiller operated and tractor operated machines.
22. New trend is emerging in favour of large capacity, multicrop threshers for quick threshing.
23. Grain combines are getting popularity day by day.
24. Harvesters for commercial crops like sugarcane & cotton, forage harvesters, forage combines and hay making equipments are going to be in demand.
25. Process of mechanization is dynamic with no ultimate goal in sight.
Safety, comfort and convenience for the operator of machine are the prime concern in mechanization.
As larger tractors are introduced, tillage tools must be designed for higher speed and utilize power other than drawbar power so that traction may not be a limiting factor.