Animal-Drawn Conservation-Tillage Planter for Small Farms in the Developing World
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South Africa has the potential to serve as a bridge between large scale farming in developed nations and the small scale operations of subsistence farmers in developing nations. It has a mix of both large-scale modern farms and small farms, which use a range of different farming practices and products. There is a gap between the tractors used by large scale South African farmers and the equipment available to the small farm holders. This research effort aims to fill a portion of that gap. There is a particular need for implements that take advantage of newer conservation methods, such as no-till, and make that technology available for small farm holders. International shipping tends to be costly, increasing the end cost of planters manufactured in other countries, making in-country manufacturing desirable. The objectives of this work included designing, building, and testing a small animal-drawn no-till planter that could be manufactured in a rural town in South Africa and is simple and easy for men, women and older children to use. A prototype was manufactured with basic machine shop equipment and skills. The prototype was then refined and tested. Measurements included draft, seed depth, and seed spacing, with cowpeas used as a representative crop. The average draft for the prototype was 796 N (179 lbf), low enough to be pulled by two draft animals weighing 816.5 kg (1800 lbs) total. The target seed placement depth for cowpeas of 2 cm was achieved within 25% most of the time, and the target seed spacing of 10 cm was achieved within 50%. The residue managers for moving straw from the row, and the press wheels for covering the seed with soil, both performed their intended functions. The planter was also found to be easy to lift at the tongue with one hand and easily operated from the side from which animals are typically driven. This planter could meet the planting and conservation needs of many small farm holders who have access to animal power but not to machine power.
Bagnall, George C (2014). Animal-Drawn Conservation-Tillage Planter for Small Farms in the Developing World. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from