Design and construction of a manual seed planter.
MetadataShow full item record
Agriculture is the back bone of Uganda since it is a source of livelihood for over ¾ of the country’s population with over 3.95million agriculture households, about 27% contribution to the Gross Domestic Product, and 85% of the country’s export earnings. Through agriculture the country hopes to attain sustainable development despite its mild growth rate compared to other sectors of the economy like the industrial sector. With the an increasing population in the country at 3.5% growth rate, and allover Africa as a continent, it implies that there is an increasing need for agricultural output for food and agro-based industries, from a sector which is dominated by smallholder farmers who majorly practice subsistence farming. About 95% of these smallholder farmers use hoes to perform most of their farming operations which renders them incapable to carryout crop farming on a greater scale due to the various constraints associated with hoe usage. Farming operations like planting requires timeliness with seasons, precision, uniformity, and appropriate intercrop spacing which are really unachievable when using hoes. Hoes make the planting operation full of drudgery, labor intensive, inefficient, which reduces the profitability of crop farming due to added labor costs with limited output. Most farmers are still reaping little or no profits from cereal crop production as a result of the poor establishment of the crops that draws most of their would be profits into high labor costs incurred in the initial green food value chain development activities and limited yields. Those earlier mentioned constraints and several others can be overcome with the application of an appropriate technology for example a seed planter. A seed planter is a device used for planting seeds by creating a furrow of desired depth, delivering seeds into the furrow at appropriate spacing and covering the seeds with soil which enables farmers to save time, money and have increased crop productivity. So, an attempt was made to design, construct and test performance of a multi-crop human powered triple row precision seed planter that will be able to perform the planting operation successfully and also overcome the several faults that were associated with the several seed planters that were on the local market yet remaining competitive and affordable to the smallholder farmers. The machine was successful at making handle adjustments to cater for people of different heights. Furrow openers can also be adjusted to different furrow depths positions in intervals of 2cm by loosening and tightening the depth control bolt, however the machine could require much energy to push if the depth exceeds 6cm depth The inter row spacing could be adjusted between 15cm (minimum) to 30cm(maximum) however, this could require to first be set at once with the seed meters for a particular crop variety. The Seed rate for the planter for the case of maize was 30kg/ha which was slightly above the usually recommended average of 25kg/ha, however, this might not have a significant effect on the yield. Missing rate tended to increase whenever speed was varied above 1.5km/hr. however, also the number of seeds damaged tended to increase when the speed became lower than 0.6km/hr. but accompanied with reduced missing rate. A highest percentage seed damage of 6% was obtained in ground nuts test as compared to cow peas, maize and beans which was 2%, 1% and 2% respectively. This is majorly associated with the variation in the hardness of the different seed varieties. The machine was found to be more tiresome when ascending the hill than when pushing it downhill or across the hill or on a relatively flat surface where less push forces could be needed. The sprockets have been made with the possibility to be interchangeable, this offers the farmer a freedom to choose between using multiple seed meters for different seeds with similar sprockets or maintaining the seed meters and the interchanges the sprockets to achieve the same intra-crop spacing. The machine parts can be disassembled, except the frame to enable easy transportation. The seed planter could also be hitched to the drawbar of the tractor provided the appropriate hitching links have been designed. The seed planter was found really suitable for smallholder farmers since it cost only 657,000 Uganda shilling to manufacture, plants multiple crops in triple rows which saves time, reduces drudgery and saves farmer from buying multiple planters, can be made from locally available material, majorly mild steel, light in weight, 30kg, and has great ergonomic aspects accompanied with easy to make adjustments with two tools only.