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Agricultural mechanization and automation

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THEME 5.11. AGRICULTURAL MECHANIZATION and AUTOMATION Paul B. McNulty and Patrick M. Grace, Biosystems Engineering, University College Dublin, Ireland (Technology and Power, Machines and Implements, Mechanization and Livestock Production, Monitoring and Agricultural Environment, Agricultural Wastes and By-products, Livestock Slaughtering and Primary Processing) (Page 1) The mechanization of farming practices throughout the world has revolutionized food production, enabling it to maintain pace with population growth except in some less-developed countries, most notably in Africa. Agricultural mechanization has involved the partial or full replacement of human energy and animal-powered equipment (e.g. plows, seeders and harvesters) by engine-driven equipment. Most of this is tractor-driven and, to a lesser extent, self-propelled equipment (including harvesters, sprayers, fertilizer applicators, planters and seeders). Agricultural mechanization has been pioneered in North America and Europe and more recently in Japan, and is now spreading rapidly throughout the world. Notwithstanding such progress, a significant element of human and animal powered mechanization remains, particularly in the poorer regions of the world. The importance of enhancing and upgrading such mechanization practices prior to the almost inevitable transition to engine-driven equipment is now well recognized. Automation of agricultural mechanization is an intensive area of research and development with emphasis on enhancement of food quality, preservation of operator comfort and safety, precision application of agrochemicals, energy conservation and environmental control. Automation applications will be orientated towards and assist in the attainment of environmentally friendly and sustainable systems of agricultural and food production. However, the difficulties in matching environmental concerns and sustainability with an ever-increasing world population cannot be underestimated especially in the developing countries. Thus, there may be a tension between maximizing food production on the one hand and implementing sustainable development and environmental protection systems (e.g. erosion control) especially, in poorer regions, where the demand for increased food production follows logically from an increasing population. In addition to the opening summary paper, VOLUME I contains Chapters 1 and 2 of six chapters. Each chapter features a TOPIC-level contribution (10,000-15,000 words each) and a number of expert ARTICLE-level contributions (5000-10,000 words each). CHAPTER 1. TECHNOLOGY and POWER in AGRICULTURE, Charles L. Peterson, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Idaho, USA (Technology, Power, Steam Power, Internal Combustion Engine, Fuel Sources, Tractors, Agricultural Implements, The Moldboard Plow, Reaping, Threshing, and Combine Harvesters, Electric Power, The Computer Revolution, Precision Farming, Social Issues) (Page 47) 1.1 EXPENDITURES and RETURNS, Eric Audsley, Silsoe Research Institute, Silsoe, Beds, UK (Page 94) 1.2 AGRICULTURAL EQUIPMENT: CHOICE and OPERATION, John K. Schueller, Mechanical Engineering, University of Florida, USA (Page 121) 1.3 MAINTAINING WORKING CONDITIONS and OPERATION of MACHINERY, O Norén, Swedish Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Uppsala, Sweden (Page 135) 1.4 HUMAN and ANIMAL POWERED MACHINERY, P.M.O. Owende, Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering, University College Dublin, Ireland (Page 167) 1.5 ENERGY SOURCES: NON RENEWABLE and RENEWABLE, H. Irps, Federal Agricultural Research Center (FAL), Braunschweig, Germany (Page 200) 1.6 AGRICULTURE and AUTONOMOUS POWER SUPPLY, Giovanni Riva, Department of Agricultural and Environmental Biotechnology (Dibiaga), University of Ancona, Italy (Page 232) CHAPTER 2. FARM MACHINERY, Gajendra Singh, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand (Introduction, Trends in Farm Machinery Adoption, Machinery for Tillage, Seeding and Planting Machinery, Fertilizer Application and Plant Protection Equipment, Machinery for Crop Harvesting and Threshing, Machinery for Transport, Horticultural Machinery, Standardization and Testing of Farm Machinery) (Page 251) 2.1 TRACTORS and TRANSPORT VEHICLES, H.L.M du Plessis, University of Pretoria, South Africa (Page 270) 2.2 TILLAGE and SEEDING MACHINES, Pierluigi Febo, Department of Engineering and Technology for Agriculture and Forestry (ITAF), University of Palermo, Italy (Page 319) 2.3 FERTILIZER APPLICATORS AND PLANT PROTECTION EQUIPMENT, Palaniappa Krishnan, Bioresources Engineering Department, University of Delaware, USA (Page 358) 2.4 HARVESTERS, M.A.Neale, 6 St Edmond Road, Bedford MK40 2NQ, England, UK (Page 388) 2.5 EQUIPMENT FOR POST-HARVEST PRESERVATION and TREATMENT of PRODUCE, D. C. Joyce and B. Clarke, Post-harvest Technology Group, Silsoe College, Cranfield University, Silsoe, UK (Page 419) INDEX (Page 443) About EOLSS (Page 453)
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AGRICULTURAL MECHANIZATION AND AUTOMATION
Paul B. McNulty and Patrick M. Grace
Agricultural and Food Engineering Department, National University of Ireland,
Dublin,Ireland
Keywords: agriculture, animal, automation, buildings, computers, disease, energy,
environment, equipment, erosion, fertilizer, food, harvesters, hygiene, labor, livestock,
machinery, manure, mechanization, milking, monitoring, pesticide, post-harvest, power,
precision, processing, renewable, robotics, safety, seeders, slaughter, slurry, storage, straw,
sustainable, technology, tillage, tractors, transportation, waste
Contents
1. Technology and Power
2. Machines and Implements
3. Mechanization and Livestock Production
4. Monitoring the Agricultural Environment
5. Agricultural Wastes and By-products
6. Livestock Slaughtering and Primary Processing
Acknowledgements
Related Chapters
Bibliography
Biographical Sketches
Summary
The mechanization of farming practices throughout the world has revolutionized food
production, enabling it to maintain pace with population growth except in some less-
developed countries, most notably in Africa. Agricultural mechanization has involved the
partial or full replacement of human energy and animal-powered equipment (e.g. plows,
seeders and harvesters) by engine-driven equipment. Most of this is tractor driven and to a
lesser extent self-propelled equipment (including harvesters, sprayers, fertilizer applicators,
planters and seeders). Agricultural mechanization has been pioneered in North America and
Europe and more recently in Japan, and is now spreading rapidly throughout the world.
Notwithstanding such progress, a significant element of human and animal powered
mechanization remains, particularly in the poorer regions of the world. The importance of
enhancing and upgrading such mechanization practices prior to the almost inevitable
transition to engine-driven equipment is now well recognized. Automation of agricultural
mechanization is an intensive area of research and development with emphasis on
enhancement of food quality, preservation of operator comfort and safety, precision
application of agrochemicals, energy conservation and environmental control. Automation
applications will be orientated towards and assist in the attainment of environmentally
friendly and sustainable systems of agricultural and food production. However, the
difficulties in matching environmental concerns and sustainability with an ever-increasing
world population cannot be underestimated especially in the developing countries. Thus,
there may be a tension between maximizing food production on the one hand and
implementing sustainable development and environmental protection systems (e.g. erosion
control) especially, in poorer regions, where the demand for increased food production
follows logically from an increasing population.
1. Technology and Power
Advances in technology have been central to the dramatic progress in the mechanization of
farming practices throughout the world. Of greatest importance has been the development of
the internal combustion engine and its utilization in farm tractors, combine harvesters and
other self-propelled agricultural machinery. Such machinery has facilitated the full or partial
replacement of human- and animal-powered equipment in developed countries and
increasingly in developing countries as well. The net result has been higher productivity and
the welcome elimination of much of the drudgery of manual farm labor. For example, one
person involved in agricultural production can now provide enough food and fiber for 128
others whereas only a century ago one person could provide food and fiber for only eight
others (see also, Technology and Power in Agriculture). However, the social impact of the
consequential rural depopulation has not been adequately addressed.
The second most important advance in technology has been the ready availability of rural
electricity to power a multiplicity of items of farm equipment including lighting, heating,
ventilation, milking, pumping, drying, milling, conveying and mixing. Furthermore, the
automation of both mechanically and electrically powered equipment is now a dominant
feature of mechanization developments in the developed regions and will inevitably impact to
an increasing extent on the developing regions as labor costs increase. The rapid penetration
of telecommunication and information technologies will provide a further layer of
sophistication to the mechanization capability and strategies in agriculture.
All of the foregoing technological advances have been critically dependent on the availability
of an abundant and economic supply of fossil fuels including diesel fuel for on-farm tractors
and self-propelled machines; and natural gas, heavy fuel oil and coal for off-farm electricity
generation. With a decline in fossil fuel supply (inevitable in the medium to long term) the
attention will switch to renewable sources for on-farm fuel use and to renewable and/or
nuclear for off-farm electricity generation. The renewable fuel that is most likely to be
suitable for use in tractors and other self-propelled machines is esterified oil from oilseeds.
Even though bioethanol is an outstanding renewable engine fuel, it is more suited to Otto
gasoline (petrol) than to farm diesel engines. Electricity may be generated from a range of
renewable sources including wind, wave, hydro and biomass, but on-farm generation is
unlikely except on a small-scale or on the basis of specialized energy or wind-power farms.
The projected gradual increase in the use of renewable fuels coupled with state-of-the-art
advances in mechanization, such as precision farming, means that the goal of high
productivity may be coupled with sustainable strategies and environmental protection. How
the economics of such an approach evolve depends on the commitment of the international
community to attain such sustainable and environmental goals.
1.1 Investment in Mechanization
There has been a substantial global investment in agricultural mechanization and automation
by governments, industry, farmers and international agencies. In general, the return on
investment has been spectacular. In North America and Europe, the combination of advanced
mechanization systems, agrochemical inputs and plant breeding has produced an increase in
farm production of such proportions that ultimately quotas on production had to be imposed
to prevent the accumulation of massive food surpluses.
The lesson from this experience is abundantly clear. Food production can be increased if the
primary producer or farmer is provided with a guaranteed profitable income for the farm
produce. With such guarantees the farmer can invest in the necessary inputs including
mechanization to increase productivity, secure in the knowledge that, as productivity
increases, income will increase enabling payback and facilitating further investment as
required. The scale of the investment required may be determined from comprehensive data
on farm mechanization costs (see also, Expenditures and Returns). For instance, the current
cost of mechanization in the UK is about 20 % of total farm input costs (Table 1).
Table 1. Breakdown of farm input costs (UK inputs) (see also, Expenditures and Returns).
Provision of a guaranteed profitable income to primary producers is a powerful but expensive
food policy instrument. The poorest countries that typically have the highest population
growth and the greatest need to produce more food are least well placed to afford such a
policy. As such, the international community and its agencies could make a huge contribution
to food security by investing heavily in a program of guaranteed profitable income for
farmers based on food production. Such a policy presupposes individual ownership of the
land or a tenancy beneficially linked to productivity increase. State farms in centrally planned
economies could also participate where beneficial tenancy arrangements can be incorporated.
While such or related arrangements are being put in place, the transference of food surpluses
as food aid to regions in need will continue for quite some time. Special care needs to be
taken that such measures are complementary to, rather than in conflict with, local policies
designed to enhance food security.
1.2 Selection and Operation of Equipment
The choice or selection of agricultural equipment is dictated by a multiplicity of factors
including the nature and size of the enterprise, the profitability and access to finance, the
economic status of the region, the accessibility to a range of equipment options at local level,
the ownership (individual, shared or cooperative) of equipment and access to mechanization
contractors. For individual farmers in the developed world, a tractor is likely to be the key
item of equipment as it provides power and mobility for a wide range of mechanical farm
operations including tillage, spraying, fertilizing, harvesting, milking and feeding. The size
and number of tractors is dictated by the size, nature and profitability of the farming
enterprise as well as by how many (if any) operations (e.g. plowing, planting, spraying,
harvesting) will be serviced by local contractors. For example, the capital cost of purchasing
a harvester to harvest a small area of a moderate value crop is often prohibitive. On the other
hand, a contractor servicing many small growers in a local region can spread the capital cost
accordingly and provide a service at an affordable price. For individual farmers who cannot
afford a new and expensive item of equipment and who prefer not to depend on contractor
availability, purchase of second hand equipment is an option where the support of a local
finance agency may be required. Leasing of expensive equipment is also an option but
generally is less popular except with larger producers.
In the developing countries, the trend towards adoption of the tractor as the fundamental unit
of agricultural mechanization systems is sure to continue. However, for many small farmers
in deprived regions the transition to tractor-based mechanization is not a realistic option due
to the lack of finance and basic infrastructure. In this situation, a continued reliance on human
energy and animal-powered equipment for tillage, planting and harvesting will prevail for the
foreseeable future. As a consequence, the design and operation of such equipment requires
increased investment in research and development to enhance their operational and
performance characteristics (see also, Human and Animal Powered Machinery).
It is well recognized that the selection of equipment is only the beginning of appropriate
machinery management (see also, Agricultural Equipment: Choice and Operation). For
example, the operation of the individual pieces of equipment must be coordinated properly in
order to enhance productivity and efficiency. Another trend is precision agriculture (Figure
1), where state-of-the-art control and automation technology can be used to apply the
optimum amount of seeds, water, fertilizers and pesticides to maximize economic return and
minimize environmental damage.
Figure 1 Precision farming relies on signals from at least four satellites to determine the
position of a machine in the field. An on-board computer can change application rates or
collect data on the go based on the machine position and a pre-determined data file. (Photo
courtesy of the University of Idaho, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.)
(see also, Technology and Power in Agriculture).
1.3 Performance of Agricultural Equipment
Maintaining working conditions and optimal performance of agricultural equipment is of
vital importance in agricultural and food production due to the timeliness factor. The concept
of timeliness recognizes that there is an optimum time to perform certain crop production
operations from planting through to harvesting. If one or more of these operations is
performed too early or too late, a timeliness penalty is likely to accrue, that is, yield and/or
the quality of the crop is diminished, yielding a lower price to the farmer. For example, the
ideal time to harvest grain is when the crop is ripe and the moisture is low (see also,
Maintaining Working Conditions and Operation of Machinery). However, if the weather is
bad and the quality of the grain is in danger, it may be more economical to protect quality by
harvesting early (before ripeness) even if an increased post-harvest drying cost is incurred.
Due to the timeliness factor, machinery of a somewhat higher capacity is often employed to
avoid timeliness penalties that may accrue due to the use of a contractor, machine breakdown
and repair, bad weather or operator illness. Likewise, the use of preventive maintenance
protocols are desirable in the off-season e.g. replacing parts (such as bearings or soil
engaging elements) that may break or wear out before they need repair or replacement. The
use of highly skilled and competent operators is also desirable to ensure optimal performance
of equipment that is generally getting bigger, working faster and becoming more complex
despite the welcome introduction of more automated control and ergonomic systems
designed to assist and enhance performance. The training of operatives involves a partnership
between equipment users, equipment suppliers, maintenance and repair services, extension
services (where available), research and educational institutions, and the communications
media (farming press, radio, TV, Internet). Farm relief services are an integral part of a back-
up system where illness or other difficulties prevent a farmer from operating equipment
effectively.
1.4 Human and Animal Power
There is a long history of agricultural mechanization that has been human and animal
powered rather than engine powered. The difference in scale is quite staggering and is a
measure of the economic gulf between the rich and the poor on this planet. For example, an
average horse plowing the soil at an average rate will perform work at a rate of one
horsepower (hp). In contrast, a 100 hp (75 kW) tractor could work (e.g. plowing the soil) at a
rate one hundred times faster than the horse. Thus, huge savings in labor have accrued from
engine-driven mechanization systems in the developed world, which in turn have been
rapidly followed by rural depopulation. The societal impact of rural depopulation has not
been adequately addressed (see also, Technology and Power in Agriculture).
Human and animal powered mechanization systems (Figures 2 and 3) are described in detail
in Human and Animal Powered Machinery, EOLSS on-line, 2002. The drudgery, long hours
and low pay typically associated with these systems make rural life in the developing
countries an unattractive career for young men and women. As a consequence, the transition
to engine powered mechanization is likely to occur sooner rather than later in the poorer
regions unless rural life (especially for females) can be made more attractive.
Figure 2. Human powered equipment for land preparation, planting, weeding and crop
protection (see also, Human and Animal Powered Machinery).
Figure 3. Equipment for tillage and harrowing with draft animal power (see also, Human and
Animal Powered Machinery).
In the meantime, it is imperative that human and animal powered mechanization is made as
efficient and attractive as possible to eliminate some of the drudgery associated with it.
Substantial investment in research and development by governments, industry and
international agencies is required to achieve this goal. For example, it has been proposed that
state-of-the-art precision farming technologies could be integrated with animal powered
mechanization to enhance land productivity through precise application of crop nutrients and
environmentally sensitive tillage systems.
1.5 Energy Sources
The dominant energy sources on conventional farms in the developed world are diesel oil (to
power tractors and other self-propelled equipment) and electricity (to provide light, heat and
refrigeration; and to power electric motors to run milking machines, animal feeding systems,
ventilation fans, water supply and irrigation systems).
By common consent, diesel oil (used to power the compression ignition engines, so dominant
in agriculture) is a nonrenewable resource. Attempts to find or identify a diesel fuel substitute
that could be used in conventional diesel engines have made some progress. In particular, the
use of oils from renewable oilseeds has enjoyed some limited success in countries such as
Austria, where generous tax remission is allowable on a fuel that is otherwise uneconomic.
Oil from oilseeds such as rapeseed, corn oil or sunflower oil, needs to be esterified to reduce
its viscosity close to that of diesel before use in a diesel engine. The oil from oilseeds cannot
be regarded as a potentially economic byproduct in the same way as sugarcane bagasse, a
byproduct of sugar manufacture used as feed stock for manufacture of car alcohol fuel, or
straw from cereals, used as fuel in boilers, are so regarded. Even when oilseeds (esterified,
partially refined or crude) are used as diesel fuel extenders, the economic difficulty still
persists and will continue until such time as diesel oil supplies begin to dwindle or until a
more appropriate substitute fuel (renewable or nonrenewable) should emerge. Should diesel
fuel supplies run out and an appropriate substitute fuel fail to emerge, tractors and other
engine-driven equipment could convert to spark-ignition engines. These are more versatile in
terms of fuel use (e.g. renewable alcohol, as well as nonrenewable hydrocarbons) even if less
suited to the heavy workloads in agriculture. However, although the renewable alcohols can
be produced from agricultural byproducts (cereal straw, sugarcane bagasse) the economics
are even more unfavorable given the complex manufacturing process that includes
fermentation and distillation. The annual mass and energy yields from some appropriate
renewable energy resources are outlined in Table 2.
Table 2. Typical agricultural yields in the crops of renewable resources for energy use (see
also, Energy Sources: Non Renewable and Renewable).
At first glance, renewable fuels are attractive from an environmental and sustainability
perspective and cogent arguments have been made that such considerations justify the
generous tax remission protocols necessary to commercialize these products. For example,
the use of renewable fuels in urban vehicles may be justified if the emissions are much
cleaner than those from conventionally fuelled vehicles. For these reasons (environmental
enhancement, sustainability) intensive research and development in renewable fuels
(including oilseed oils and alcohols) continues and has lead to a small number of commercial
applications in niche markets. The future market for renewable fuel use is difficult to predict
but will remain an active issue in the continuing debate on alternative fuels for vehicles
including agricultural vehicles. Finally, the use of on-farm generated electricity, as opposed
to that purchased from a utility, is discussed below (see also, Agriculture and Autonomous
Power Supply).
1.6 Autonomous Power Supply
Power supply may be considered as autonomous at different levels: at local on-farm level, at
local co-operative level or at national level. At local level autonomous power supply may be
defined as that power which is generated on-farm for local on-farm use. Primary power
sources are many and varied including solar, wind, hydroenergy and geothermal, which may
be used to power stationery equipment (wind, hydroenergy), to provide heating or cooling
(solar, geothermal) or to generate electricity (wind, hydroenergy) to service a multiplicity of
on-farm activities (see also, Energy Sources: Renewable and Non Renewable). Cereal straw
and other dry byproducts (wood chips) may be used in small on-farm boilers typically to
generate heat for drying harvested crops (cereals, oilseeds) or space heating (greenhouses,
residential). Furthermore, biogas (predominantly methane) generated from animal wastes
(e.g. pig slurry) by anaerobic digestion may also be used to power on-farm boilers typically
to generate heat and also electricity in larger and more sophisticated installations. The
performance of such wet biomass (animal waste) systems is outlined in Agriculture and
Autonomous Power Supply, EOLSS on-line, 2002, and summarized in Table 3. Autonomous
power supply must also include human and animal power (as discussed in Human and
Animal Powered Machinery, EOLSS on-line, 2002) which, although of great relevance to
small farms in the poorest regions, is otherwise declining in relative importance.
Table 3. Biogas from manure or wet vegetables (see also, Agriculture and Autonomous
Power Supply).
Local autonomous power supply systems are generally limited to stationary applications
which, although of vital importance to farm mechanization, still represent a considerably
smaller fraction of total energy than that used in mobile mechanization systems powered by
tractors and other engine-driven vehicular equipment. While the future role of autonomous
power supply systems is likely to expand, the total contribution to agricultural mechanization
energy is likely to be of modest proportion. In other words, farms of the future will depend
primarily on a purchased energy supply (i.e. diesel fuel or renewable substitute/extender, and
electricity) to which autonomous power may make a valuable but small contribution to those
farmers who wish to pursue the available options. Clearly additional investment in research
and development is required to render the autonomous power supply options as economic and
user-friendly as possible. Also, it should be noted that the purchased electricity supply,
although not autonomous, could still be (at least in part) generated from renewable power
sources.
From a national perspective, renewable alternatives to diesel fuel for mobile equipment (e.g.
oilseed fuels) (see also, Energy Sources: Renewable and Non Renewable) may also be
considered as autonomous power. These renewable sources are normally processed off-farm
and sold nationally or regionally and, as such, are not considered as a local autonomous
power supply for agriculture. In the future, it is likely that the diesel oil supply will dwindle
and may eventually run out. As such, governments and appropriate agencies may wish to
encourage the development of an infrastructure for processing and distribution of diesel fuel
alternatives to cope with such a scenario.
2. Machines and Implements
The historical image of farm labor has been that associated with backbreaking work, long
hours and low pay. From the earliest times attempts have been made to alleviate drudgery
through inventions and developments of implements and machines that have gradually
transformed agriculture into a modern industry served by technologically sophisticated
mechanization systems. While much remains to be done on small farms in the poorest
regions, sufficient progress has been made to accelerate food production in line with
population growth (contrary to the Malthusian prediction). In this theme, farm machinery is
considered with primary emphasis on engine and motor driven machines and implements and
a lesser emphasis on human or animal powered equipment. This is based on the clear
evidence of a global shift towards engine and motor driven mechanization systems. The
situation is outlined in detail in Farm Machinery, (EOLSS on-line, 2002). Global
mechanization practices are summarized in Table 4.
The most significant item of engine driven machinery is the tractor, which is the centerpiece
of all modern mechanization systems (see also, Tractors and Transport Vehicles). The tractor
provides mobility and power for a myriad of farm operations including soil tillage, seeding,
agrochemical application, harvesting, livestock feeding, manure handling and emergency
electricity supplies.
Table 4. Percentage of the cultivated land farmed with various sources of power (see also,
Farm Machinery).
Apart from the tractor, the farm machine that has captured the public imagination is the
massive combine harvester, a miracle of modern technology. A machine that can cut mature
corn without shattering the ripe kernels at the top of its long slender stem, gather together and
convey these stem heads-first into a threshing cylinder, where the bulk of the kernels are
separated from the non-grain material by a combination of impact and sieving, and where the
remaining separation is achieved by a combination of further sieving, flotation and vibration.
Using state-of-the-art technology, a well-maintained combine harvester operated effectively
in a mature crop, can attain clean grain recoveries of 99 % a remarkable achievement! Work
rates in excess of one hectare (10 000 m2) per hour are readily achievable with two operators,
one to drive the combine, the other to drive a tractor-trailer or a truck into which the combine
periodically empties its grain for transportation to the farm granary or direct to the local grain
merchant or storage facility. The image of a multiplicity of combine harvesters traversing and
harvesting the corn plains of North America is a powerful testament to the success of
agricultural mechanization programs.
Developments in control and instrumentation have also been notable including well-
established innovations such as grain loss meters, work rate meters and crop density meters.
Precision farming practices including the use of global positioning systems (GPS) and
geographic information systems (GIS) are applicable not only to harvesting operations but to
other farm mechanization operations including precision application of agrochemicals i.e.
applying a pesticide or a crop nutrient where it is required and at the appropriate
concentration rather than using blanket coverage. Precision farming applications promise to
conserve energy and reduce agricultural inputs but much remains to be done before these
claims can be sustained and the technology commercialized at an affordable price to the
farmer. Further exciting developments in farm machinery are under way with particular
emphasis on communications and information technology applications.
2.1 Tractors
Early tractor designs were based on the concept of substituting mechanical pulling or draft
power for the draft animal classically associated with pulling plows through the soil,
operating reaper and binder machines through fields of corn, or mowers through fields of
grass. Cumbersome steam powered engines were soon to be replaced by the more energy
efficient and compact internal combustion engine. An example was the mass-produced and
low-cost Fordson tractor introduced by Henry Ford in 1916. Soon after the Irish inventor and
agricultural engineer, Harry Ferguson, recognized the utility of a greater integration of the
tractor with the implements and machines (plows, seeders, agrochemical applicators,
harvesters, feeders), which were pulled behind it by a simple drawbar hitch. Ferguson
developed a hydraulically activated three-point hitch to which implements could be attached
and which could lift and lower implements to the required working position. Ferguson also
developed automatic control systems (draft, position) which greatly enhanced the
performance of the equipment. Draft control is a system whereby the drawbar pull can be
maintained at a constant level by automatically adjusting the position of the implement (e.g.
plow) in response to variations in draft (e.g. soil resistance). Position control is a system
whereby the position of a fully mounted implement (sprayer or fertilizer distributor, whose
weight is completely supported by the tractor) is automatically maintained in a constant
position (e.g. operating height over the ground) despite leakages in the hydraulic system
tending to lower the position of the implement.
Sophisticated hydraulic systems are now available on all modern tractors capable of
performing additional functions including the operation and control of a multiplicity of
implements and machines mounted to the rear, front or side of the tractor including loaders,
mowers, agrochemical applicators, harvesters and feeders. While many of these are
mechanically driven through the power-take-off (PTO) shaft at the rear of the tractor,
hydraulic-drive systems provide additional flexibility due to the flexible power hoses that
interconnect the driving and driven units. Additional and exciting technological
developments are taking place in tractor design with emphasis on precision farming,
communications and information technologies. These are intended to enhance performance
and take account of energy conservation, environmental protection and sustainability
considerations. The modern tractor is reviewed in detail in Tractors and Transport (EOLSS
on-line, 2002). A typical example is shown in Figure 4
Figure 4. Two-wheel-drive tractor with optional mechanical front-wheel assist (Photo by
Tingmin Yu) (see also, Tractors and Transport Vehicles).
2.2 Tillage and Seeding
Soil tillage systems are predominantly concerned with the provision of an adequate seedbed
to accommodate the subsequent crop seeding or planting operation and to provide an
optimum environment for seed germination, plant establishment and vigorous crop growth.
Traditional tillage systems involved breaking the soil crust with a human or animal powered
implement or plow pushed or pulled through the soil. The development of the moldboard
plow facilitated the inversion and burial of layers of surface vegetation (grass, weeds, cereal
stubble), exposing a virgin soil surface which could then be further broken down into a fine
seed bed by draft or power driven tined implements. The development of the multi-furrow
moldboard plow powered by high-speed tractors underscores the high productivity of modern
mechanization systems as compared to the single furrow plow drawn by a slow moving draft
animal. Furthermore, the development of sub-soilers to break up soil pans (highly compacted
layers of soil interfering with water movement and deep crop root development) would not
have been possible without the power capability of the modern tractor. Likewise, the ability
to improve soil drainage (in excessively high moisture soils) through tractorized mole
drainage systems would not have been possible with animal power alone.
The substantial range of tillage and seeding equipment is outlined in Tillage and Seeding
Machines, EOLSS on-line, 2002) and summarized in Tables 5 and 6. Broadcast seeding and
seed drilling are classical methods that are popular for sowing cereals (wheat, barley and
oats) into cultivated soil.
Table 5. Machines for primary and secondary tillage operations in a conventional tillage
system. Related possible configurations: M = mounted, S = semi-mounted, T = trailed (see
also, Tillage and Seeding Machines).
Table 6. Seeding machine classification (see also, Tillage and Seeding Machines).
More recently, direct drilling operations have become more popular where the seed is planted
directly into non-cultivated soil using a corn drill (Figure 5) typically for winter cereals and
forage crops, or a vacuum precision drill typically for maize, soybean and sunflower. Energy
conservation and reduced soil compaction are evident advantages of a system that can also
combine two, three or four field operations into one.
Figure 5. Seeding machine for direct drilling in rows (see also, Tillage and Seeding
Machines).
Precision seeders place single seeds at predetermined intervals in evenly spaced rows to
provide an optimum plant population using pretreated seeds suited to mechanical metering
under gravity and with high germination and establishment potential. Plants with lesser
germination potential or those requiring an earlier growing date (rice, tomatoes, cabbage,
lettuce, tobacco) may be transplanted typically in biodegradable containers in which the
seedling has been established in greenhouses. Japanese technologists have pioneered the
state-of-the-art technology in mechanized transplanting, which hitherto had been (and still
remains) a highly labor intensive operation. Exciting innovations have occurred in sowing
including the use of air pressure in precision seeders (both positive and negative, e.g. vacuum
seeders), monitoring of seed metering and sowing rates using sensors, and fluid drilling (a
method of sowing pregerminated seed suspended in a pumpable gel). Likewise,
transplantation in areas inaccessible to tractors (rice paddy fields or steep mountain slopes) is
possible using aerial power where large areas need to be planted in order to justify the
increased cost.
2.3 Fertilizer Application and Plant Protection
Major crop nutrient fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK)) are typically
applied in powdered (small particles), granular (larger particles) or in liquid form either as
individual or as compound fertilizers. The fertilizer may be applied using a combine (corn)
drill where the seed is contained in one hopper and dry fertilizer in another behind it. As
such, sowing and fertilizing may be combined in one field operation, as is common in cereal
production where semi-continuous bands of seeds and fertilizers are planted close together at
shallow depths in closely spaced rows (typically 175 mm apart). Of course, the fertilizer may
also be applied separately (from the seed) in a corn drill style applicator. Alternatively, it may
be applied on the surface of the ground or crop (e.g. grass) using a tractor mounted
centrifugal spinner or oscillating spout type applicator where the fertilizer is broadcast rather
than placed in rows. Aerial application of fertilizers may also be used in locations
inaccessible to tractors, as described in Fertilizer Applicators and Plant Protection
Equipment (EOLSS on-line, 2002). Both pressurized (typically using ammonia) and non-
pressurized liquid fertilizer applicators are also described.
Protection of plants from diseases and pests is normally achieved by atomizing a liquid
formulation containing the active pesticide ingredient through a small nozzle under pressure
and spraying onto, beside or beneath the crop canopy, or by using granular pesticide
applicators. Crop pests include insects, fungi and weeds. It is not common to combine
insecticides, fungicides and herbicides (weedkillers) but rather to apply them as individual or
single formulations.
Figure 6. Basic components of a hydraulic sprayer (see also, Fertilizer Applicators and Plant
Protection Equipment).
The pesticide applicator sprayer is normally tractor-mounted and the tractor power-take-off
shaft drives the spray pump. Such sprayer equipment (Figure 6) can also be used to apply
liquid fertilizer especially where foliar applications are relevant (e.g. cereals). For smaller,
less accessible areas, knapsack sprayers mounted on a persons back and operated by a
manually pressurized nozzle are still quite popular and inexpensive. More specialized
equipment including high-pressure orchard sprayers, airblast sprayers, electrostatic sprayers,
aircraft sprayers and dusters has also been described in Fertilizer Applicators and Plant
Protection Equipment (EOLSS on-line, 2002).
Precision application of agrochemicals is an exciting and active area of research where
pesticides and fertilizers are applied only where they are needed and at the appropriate
concentration to elicit an optimum response. This approach requires accurate information on
soil fertility and pest activity and an applicator that can automatically vary the application
rate as desired. Examples include herbicide application based on sensed soil organic matter
content, and anhydrous ammonia application in growing maize based on sensed soil nitrate
level. This is a complex technology that requires a major investment in research and
development. The pay-off will derive from the savings accrued due to lower use of expensive
agrochemicals, environmental protection and sustainability.
2.4 Harvesting Equipment
Apart from tractors, the agricultural equipment that has most caught the public imagination
has been crop harvesters probably because of their (frequently massive) size (Figure 7),
multiplicity of functions and bewildering variety of designs (Table 7), reflecting the huge
variety in crop products and growth patterns whether the product to be harvested resides in
the soil, above the soil surface, or on bushes or trees. Harvesting equipment is described in
detail in Harvesters (EOLSS on-line, 2002). Typically, harvesting represents the final stage
of crop production at field level and essentially brings the farming season to a close. In many
cases, harvesting is the most labor intensive farm operation and not infrequently associated
with the drudgery of rural life
Figure 7. A combine harvester for the 21st century (see also, Harvesters).
Table 7. Details of harvester mechanisms (see, Harvesters).
The development of machines that could successfully harvest most if not all agricultural
crops has been greeted with enthusiasm. And yet challenges remain. The harvesting of
delicate fruits (strawberries, raspberries, grapes, plums) and vegetables (tomatoes,
mushrooms, lettuce) for the fresh market has not been successfully completed despite a
substantial investment in crop breeding and mechanization research. Machines that can
harvest such delicate biological tissues, generally inflict too much damage on a product
destined for the fresh market but have been successful with product destined for processing.
Selective harvesting is another substantial challenge facing researchers in the fruit and
vegetable sector in particular. Researchers in California have demonstrated the feasibility of a
selective field lettuce harvester where mature lettuce heads are identified by an X-ray signal
through the lettuce head, which then instructs the harvester accordingly. Another interesting
development pioneered in France is the robotic approach to harvesting tree fruit like apples
and oranges where the mature fruit is selected by machine vision using light reflectance,
picked mechanically by the robot and conveyed pneumatically (under vacuum) to a storage
pallet. Whether these exciting but expensive technologies can be successfully
commercialized remains to be seen.
Gantry mechanization (including harvesting) of fruits and vegetables in greenhouses has also
been investigated but cost remains a difficult factor to overcome. Furthermore, workers in
greenhouses are employed in a much more comfortable and hospitable environment than field
workers and as such the pressure to mechanize is less intense. Looking to the future,
harvesting techniques will continue to attract substantial interest and investment in
determining if the state-of-the-art technologies (machine vision, robotics, software
engineering, GPS and GIS) can be successfully applied to harvesting machines particularly in
relation to selective harvesting and the harvesting of delicate produce for the fresh market.
2.5 Post-harvest Technology
The equipment used for the post-harvest treatment and preservation of durable and perishable
produce includes cleaners, sorters and graders, fans (for fresh air ventilation and fumigation),
dryers, refrigeration, controlled atmosphere equipment, conveyors, and handling, packaging
and labeling equipment (see also, Equipment for Post-harvest Preservation and Treatment of
Produce). The overall sequence of operations (Figure 8) is orientated towards protecting
post-harvest product quality and minimizing loss due to deterioration occasioned by
respiration, microbial activity, insects or rodents. Control of respiration (i.e. conversion of
carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and water) in crop products is achieved by temperature
reduction, most usually by refrigeration but also by periodic ventilation typically of the cold
night air. Spoilage microorganisms (bacteria, fungi) may also be controlled by temperature
reduction (preferably to 4 C or less) usually requiring refrigeration. In certain cases, drying
may also be used to control both fungal and respirational activity. For small grain, drying to
14% moisture (wet basis) is sufficient to inhibit both fungal and respirational activity.
Figure 8. Generalized post-harvest handling schemes for perishable and for durable crops
(see also, Equipment for Post-harvest Preservation and Treatment of Produce).
The shelf life of certain fruits (most commonly apples) may be extended through controlled
atmosphere storage (using reduced atmospheric oxygen) in refrigerated stores. In most
instances, the careful control of temperature and relative humidity is sufficient to extend the
shelf life of most crop products stored on the farm. Increasing emphasis on quality control
and assessment will be facilitated by novel items of equipment including the electronic nose,
biosensors, X-ray computer-aided technology (i.e. three dimensional mapping; CAT scan),
nuclear magnetic resonance (Figure 9) and chlorophyll fluorescence.
Figure 9. Color enhanced magnetic resonance image showing the internal features of ripe
mango fruit that suffered fruit fly larvae damage (region bounded by red) (see, Equipment for
Post-harvest Preservation and Treatment of Produce).
Protection from insect infestation may be accomplished by a combination of measures
including temperature reduction and occasional fumigation. Irradiation has also been
proposed to control insect infestation in cereals and other products but the cost of this
expensive and controversial technology is prohibitive and in any event is limited to off-farm
use. Protection from rodents requires rodenticides and protective equipment to prevent
rodents from entering the crop store.
In developed agricultural systems, the modern farm is viewed primarily as a production unit
where the harvested product is rapidly transferred to agribusiness and food companies which
have the necessary technological, management and financial resources to adequately treat and
preserve farm produce in bulk. Even if developing agricultural systems should follow this
route, it is still important that state-of-the-art on-farm equipment for treatment and
preservation is available in the future.
Acknowledgments
The authors wish to gratefully acknowledge the cooperation and dedicated work of the
participating authors in the theme Agricultural Mechanization and Automation. The authors
also wish to acknowledge the expert and detailed review of this theme-level contribution by
their colleague, Professor J.D. Collins, National University of Ireland, Dublin.
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Anon. (1999). Conservation Tillage Systems and Management, 2nd edition. Ames Iowa: Midwest Plan Service.
[This provides information on erosion control equipment.]
Bramley A. J., Dodd F. H., Mein G. A., and Bramley J. A. (1992). Machine Milking and Lactation, Newbury,
UK: Insight Books. [This deals with the design and technical performance of milking machines.]
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Biographical Sketches
Dr Paul McNulty is Professor of Agricultural Engineering and Head of the Department of Agricultural and
Food Engineering at University College Dublin, National University of Ireland since 1979. He is an authority on
the physical properties of food and biological materials with particular reference to applications in food
engineering and agricultural mechanization. In 1981, he received an ASAE Paper Award in recognition of
authorship of a contribution to agricultural engineering literature of exceptional merit dealing with the
mechanical and physical properties of grasses. He was a founder and first Chairman of the Agricultural and
Food Engineering Division, Institution of Engineers of Ireland, 19771982. He was chairman of the Organizing
Committee for the Sixth International Conference on the Mechanization of Field Experiments held in Dublin in
1984. He was appointed President of CIGR (International Commission on Agricultural Engineering ) for the
period 19891991.
Dr Patrick Grace is a Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering at University College
Dublin, National University of Ireland since 1983. He is an authority on grain drying with particular reference to
mathematical modeling and numerical simulation in two dimensions. He has taken a particular interest in
computer applications in food and environmental engineering and has employed this expertise to enrich his
extensive teaching and research portfolios. He was a member of the Organizing Committee for the Eleventh
(CIGR) International Congress on Agricultural Engineering held in Dublin in 1989. He co-edited the
Proceedings of that Congress which were published by A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam in four volumes: Land and
Water Use; Agricultural Buildings; Agricultural Mechanization; and Power, Processing and Systems.
... Position control is a system whereby the position of a fully mounted implement (sprayer or fertilizer distributor, whose weight is totally on the tractor) is automatically maintained in a constant position (e.g. operating height over the ground) despite leakages in the hydraulic system tending to lower the position of the implement [14]. Sophisticated hydraulic systems are now available on all modern tractors capable of performing additional functions including the operation and control of a multiplicity of implements and machines mounted to the rear, front or side of the tractor including loaders, mowers, agrochemical applicators, harvesters and feeders. ...
... Sophisticated hydraulic systems are now available on all modern tractors capable of performing additional functions including the operation and control of a multiplicity of implements and machines mounted to the rear, front or side of the tractor including loaders, mowers, agrochemical applicators, harvesters and feeders. While many of these are mechanically driven through the powertake-off (PTO) shaft at the rear of the tractor, hydraulic-drive systems provide additional flexibility due to the flexible power that interconnects the driving and driven units [14]. The tractor also powers the mounted equipment via various independent means; the drawbar or 3-point hitch provide draft power, hydraulic remote blocks gives fluid power, the engine via the gear system to the PTO shaft transmits rotational power, and through several electrical outlets located around the interior and exterior of the tractor cabin provides electrical power. ...
... Additional and exciting technological developments are taking place in tractor design with an emphasis on precision farming, communications and information technologies. These are intended to enhance performance and take account of energy conservation, environmental protection and sustainability considerations [14], [15]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Agricultural activity is fundamentally carried out for developing the different crop yields local to a different neighbourhood in the world's ecological system. This assorted variety needs distinctive agrarian innovations appropriate for every neighbourhood. Distinctive innovations and automation frameworks must be given that match the condition of the farming. Mechanization in agriculture has been characterized in various ways. Maybe the most extensive and fitting definition is that it involves all levels of cultivating and preparing innovations, from basic and essential hand devices to more complex and mechanized implements. It incorporates all apparatuses, implements and hardware and can utilize human, animal or mechanized power sources. Automation facilitates and lessens manual work (drudgery), calms work deficiencies, enhance cultivation work profitability, enhances efficiency and convenience of farming activities, enhances the productive utilization of assets, improves economy access and adds to relieving atmosphere related risks. This paper looks at the various literature on mechanization in agriculture, starting with tillage and tillage methods, tillage implements suitable for primary tilling, tillage power, tillage operations and performance. Moreover, it looks at the measurement of tillage efficiency parameters and tools including tillage power, vibration, fuel consumption and slippage. Subsequently, it reviews in details the automated tillage Decision Support System (DSS) and decision making applications.-making. RESUMEN/ La actividad agrícola se lleva a cabo fundamentalmente para desarrollar los diferentes rendimientos de cultivos locales en un vecindario diferente en el sistema ecológico del mundo. Esta variedad variada necesita innovaciones agrarias distintivas apropiadas para cada vecindario. Se deben dar innovaciones distintivas y marcos de automatización que coincidan con la condición de la agricultura. La mecanización en la agricultura se ha caracterizado de varias maneras. Quizás la definición más extensa y adecuada es que involucra todos los niveles de cultivo y preparación de innovaciones, desde dispositivos manuales básicos y esenciales hasta implementos más complejos y mecanizados. Incorpora todos los aparatos, implementos y hardware y puede utilizar fuentes de energía humana, animal o mecanizada. La automatización facilita y disminuye el trabajo manual (trabajo pesado), calma las deficiencias de trabajo, mejora la rentabilidad del trabajo de cultivo, mejora la eficiencia y la conveniencia de las actividades agrícolas, mejora la utilización productiva de los activos, mejora el acceso a la economía y contribuye a aliviar los riesgos relacionados con la atmósfera. Este artículo analiza la literatura variada sobre mecanización en agricultura, comenzando con métodos de labranza y labranza, implementos de labranza adecuados para labranza primaria, potencia de labranza, operaciones de labranza y rendimiento. Además, analiza la medición de los parámetros y herramientas de eficiencia de labranza, incluida la potencia de labranza, la vibración, el consumo de combustible y el deslizamiento. Posteriormente, revisa en detalle el sistema automatizado de soporte de decisiones de labranza (DSS) y las aplicaciones de toma de decisiones. Esto incluye en detalle DSS, clasificación DSS, marcos de toma de decisiones, mecanismos de datos agrícolas y adquisición de datos para la toma de decisiones, un sensor para la captura de datos e incorporación de datos para DSS. La revisión cubre diferentes fuentes de datos, incluidos artículos de investigación, libros, informes y enlaces del conjunto de datos.
... Position control is a system whereby the position of a fully mounted implement (sprayer or fertilizer distributor, whose weight is totally on the tractor) is automatically maintained in a constant position (e.g. operating height over the ground) despite leakages in the hydraulic system tending to lower the position of the implement [14]. Sophisticated hydraulic systems are now available on all modern tractors capable of performing additional functions including the operation and control of a multiplicity of implements and machines mounted to the rear, front or side of the tractor including loaders, mowers, agrochemical applicators, harvesters and feeders. ...
... Sophisticated hydraulic systems are now available on all modern tractors capable of performing additional functions including the operation and control of a multiplicity of implements and machines mounted to the rear, front or side of the tractor including loaders, mowers, agrochemical applicators, harvesters and feeders. While many of these are mechanically driven through the powertake-off (PTO) shaft at the rear of the tractor, hydraulic-drive systems provide additional flexibility due to the flexible power that interconnects the driving and driven units [14]. The tractor also powers the mounted equipment via various independent means; the drawbar or 3-point hitch provide draft power, hydraulic remote blocks gives fluid power, the engine via the gear system to the PTO shaft transmits rotational power, and through several electrical outlets located around the interior and exterior of the tractor cabin provides electrical power. ...
... Additional and exciting technological developments are taking place in tractor design with an emphasis on precision farming, communications and information technologies. These are intended to enhance performance and take account of energy conservation, environmental protection and sustainability considerations [14], [15]. ...
... Position control is a system whereby the position of a fully mounted implement (sprayer or fertilizer distributor, whose weight is totally on the tractor) is automatically maintained in a constant position (e.g. operating height over the ground) despite leakages in the hydraulic system tending to lower the position of the implement [14]. Sophisticated hydraulic systems are now available on all modern tractors capable of performing additional functions including the operation and control of a multiplicity of implements and machines mounted to the rear, front or side of the tractor including loaders, mowers, agrochemical applicators, harvesters and feeders. ...
... Sophisticated hydraulic systems are now available on all modern tractors capable of performing additional functions including the operation and control of a multiplicity of implements and machines mounted to the rear, front or side of the tractor including loaders, mowers, agrochemical applicators, harvesters and feeders. While many of these are mechanically driven through the powertake-off (PTO) shaft at the rear of the tractor, hydraulic-drive systems provide additional flexibility due to the flexible power that interconnects the driving and driven units [14]. The tractor also powers the mounted equipment via various independent means; the drawbar or 3-point hitch provide draft power, hydraulic remote blocks gives fluid power, the engine via the gear system to the PTO shaft transmits rotational power, and through several electrical outlets located around the interior and exterior of the tractor cabin provides electrical power. ...
... Additional and exciting technological developments are taking place in tractor design with an emphasis on precision farming, communications and information technologies. These are intended to enhance performance and take account of energy conservation, environmental protection and sustainability considerations [14], [15]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Agricultural activity is fundamentally carried out for developing the different crop yields local to a different neighbourhood in the world's ecological system. This assorted variety needs distinctive agrarian innovations appropriate for every neighbourhood. Distinctive innovations and automation frameworks must be given that match the condition of the farming. Mechanization in agriculture has been characterized in various ways. Maybe the most extensive and fitting definition is that it involves all levels of cultivating and preparing innovations, from basic and essential hand devices to more complex and mechanized implements. It incorporates all apparatuses, implements and hardware and can utilize human, animal or mechanized power sources. Automation facilitates and lessens manual work (drudgery), calms work deficiencies, enhance cultivation work profitability, enhances efficiency and convenience of farming activities, enhances the productive utilization of assets, improves economy access and adds to relieving atmosphere related risks. This paper looks at the various literature on mechanization in agriculture, starting with tillage and tillage methods, tillage implements suitable for primary tilling, tillage power, tillage operations and performance. Moreover, it looks at the measurement of tillage efficiency parameters and tools including tillage power, vibration, fuel consumption and slippage. Subsequently, it reviews in details the automated tillage Decision Support System (DSS) and decision making applications. This include in details DSS, DSS classification, decision-making frameworks, agricultural data and data acquisition mechanisms for decision making, a sensor for data capturing and data incorporation for DSS. The review covers different data sources including research articles, books, reports and links of the dataset.
... Ridging also conserves water in the soil, a desirable attribute for limited water conditions (Biazin and Stroosnijder, 2012). Ridges maybe peaked or flat topped (McNulty and Grace, 2009). The type of ridge to be considered depends on the soil type and weather conditions. ...
... The type of ridge to be considered depends on the soil type and weather conditions. For areas that are susceptible to soil erosion, flattened ridges would be preferable than peaked ridges (McNulty and Grace, 2009). For potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), Steyn (2017) recommended flattened ridges for dryland conditions and peaked ridges for wet conditions. ...
... Intensification as an effort to increase maize production is also carried out by applying innovative technology that is competitive (productive, efficient and quality) to produce maize seeds capable of producing 7-9 tons / ha of maize [6]. Therefore, in addition to modernizing agricultural tools and machinery, efforts to increase maize production can be made by investing in research and development (RND) [11], [12], [26]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Agricultural tools and machines (Mechanization) have an important and strategic role in achieving agricultural development goals in order to accelerate the achievement of national food self-sufficiency and the main strategic commodities in meeting the needs of food and animal feed. The problem is, not all maize production is of good quality according to animal feed and industry standards. This is what deserves attention, the quality of maize production increases so that it is able to meet domestic demand and opens up opportunities for export. For this reason, a study is needed to analyze the effectiveness of the use and utilization with an evaluation approach of the mechanization assistance program provided by farmers. The results of the study showed that 60% of maize farmers thought that the assistance was able to increase the production and productivity of agricultural products. The results of interviews with maize farmers showed that the estimated increase in maize production ranged from 20 - 40% from the previous one. Maize Shiller assistance is still not evenly distributed, even though this machinery is very helpful for farmers in overcoming post-harvest maize problems. The limited number of reliable technical personnel at the village level is a problem in itself. For this reason, the budget for increasing the number of maize Shillers, mentoring and training in the use of agricultural machinery needs to be increased, so that the distribution of agricultural machinery is evenly distributed and farmers who receive direct training can easily use mechanization on their own agricultural land.
... Therefore, if the autonomous robotic arm could replace the manual control hydraulic component for FFBs evacuation, the productivity could be increased. An automated system has increased efficiency, as reported in several studies [19], [20]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Palm oil production starts with fresh fruit bunch (FFB) harvesting and evacuation in the field. Time to evacuate the FFB is crucial as it could affect the quality of the oil produced. Thus, an infield evacuation machine is required. The selection of machinery is vital to fit the operation conditions and to optimise the return of investment. One way of machinery evaluation is through a productivity-based approach, where actual operating data is used to conduct the assessment. This study evaluated the performance of three machines, the three-wheel, hydra-porter and mini-tractor, for FFB evacuation. Evaluation in the field indicated that hydra-porter provided higher efficiency and lower operating cost despite the high capital cost. At least 20% difference in efficiency and operating cost reduction were achieved compared to the other two technologies tested in the selected sites. Besides, it required only a single operator for the task with higher productivity. In general, machinery for oil palm is an essential investment for field operation. Therefore, a systematic assessment of technologies to be adopted in operation is a prerequisite decision. Substantial operational data need to be made available for automation in the data-driven industry. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.
... Bangladesh's agriculture is characterized by relatively small holdings and persistent fragmentation of land. Farm mechanization associated with the green revolution has affirmed the increase in production required to fulfill the food requirements (Adamade andJackson 2014, McNulty andGrace 2009). Mechanization reduces peak season labour supply pressures, costs of production, and making farming attractive to youth people (Biggs and Justice 2015;Baudron et al 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Identifying the determinants of farm mechanization can play a crucial role in the agriculture sector's development. The present study identifies the determinants of potato farm mechanization employing the ordered probit model. A total of 150 potato farmers were interviewed to achieve the objectives. The findings indicate that only around 13% of the respondents were high adopters. The adoption of potato farm mechanization was influenced by education, spouse education, farm size, and training. Marginal effect analysis suggested that farm size and training decrease the likelihood of being in the low adopter's category, respectively, by 13.2% and 10%, while increases the likelihood of being in the high adopter's category by 7.5% and 5.7%. Policy implications included more investment in extension facilities such as training from public agencies to sustain and increase adoption. Modifying the existing extension strategy by targeting not only primary farmers but also members of their families would help with the widespread adoption of farm mechanization.
... Since the pre-industrial age when hand tools or basic machines were used for manufacturing, the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century marked the introduction of power-operated, special-purpose machinery, factories, and mass production. Farm mechanization in many industrialized countries, such as the UK, USA, and Canada, witnessed the rapid development and use of power-operated machines [3]. Colonial empires of the nineteenth century brought some of these technologies to the less developed areas of the world, with mixed results and significant social and environmental impacts. ...
Article
Full-text available
Agricultural mechanization in developing countries has taken at least two contested innovation pathways—the “incumbent trajectory” that promotes industrial agriculture, and an “alternative pathway” that supports small-scale mechanization for sustainable development of hillside farming systems. Although both pathways can potentially reduce human and animal drudgery, the body of literature that assesses the sustainability impacts of these mechanization pathways in the local ecological, socio-economic, cultural, and historical contexts of hillside farms is either nonexistent or under-theorized. This paper addresses this missing literature by examining the case of Nepal’s first Agricultural Mechanization Promotion Policy 2014 (AMPP) using a conceptual framework of what will be defined as “responsible innovation”. The historical context of this assessment involves the incumbent trajectory of mechanization in the country since the late 1960s that neglected smallholder farms located in the hills and mountains and biased mechanization policy for flat areas only. Findings from this study suggest that the AMPP addressed issues for smallholder production, including gender inequality, exclusion of smallholder farmers, and biophysical challenges associated with hillside farming systems, but it remains unclear whether and how the policy promotes small-scale agricultural mechanization for sustainable development of agriculture in the hills and mountains of Nepal.
Thesis
Full-text available
Technology in agriculture is exponentially growing. Introducing farming machinery has made life easier for farmers, allowed them to substitute human labor with machinery, and increased their productivity. In developed countries, farmers are replacing traditional hand tools for machinery for many reasons. This study's first goal was to examine if farm size influenced farmers' decisions between using machinery or hand tools and, second, to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers' labor management. Semi-structured interviews with two agricultural support agents and four farmers were used as primary data. Each interview was conducted online via Zoom meeting, transcribed, coded, categorized, and analyzed following the qualitative research method procedures. The results showed that small vegetable farmers are more likely to use hand tools compared to large-scale farmers. This study presented new factors that impact farmers' decisions in using hand tools or machinery. Farm structure, farming methods (organic, pesticide-free, GAP), and financial constraints also influenced farmers' decisions between using machinery or hand tools. The COVD-19 pandemic caused many challenges and opportunities for farmers. The major challenge it caused was changing farmers' marketing sales techniques. The significant opportunity was that it helped farmers develop an online presence. This pandemic has taught farmers new management practices.
Book
free PDF available at National Academy Press http://www.nap.edu/catalog/4919/engineering-within-ecological-constraints
Book
Topics covered in this book include: Basic thermodynamics of engines, Power efficiencies and measurement, Fuels and combustion, Ignition circuits, Diesel engines, Cooling systems, Hydraulic systems and hitches and Weight transfer, traction, and safety.
Conservation Tillage Systems and Management
  • Anon
Anon. (1999). Conservation Tillage Systems and Management, 2 nd edition. Ames Iowa: Midwest Plan Service. [This provides information on erosion control equipment.]
Insight Books. [This deals with the design and technical performance of milking machines
  • A J Bramley
  • F H Dodd
  • G A Mein
Bramley A. J., Dodd F. H., Mein G. A., and Bramley J. A. (1992). Machine Milking and Lactation, Newbury, UK: Insight Books. [This deals with the design and technical performance of milking machines.]
Drying and Storage of Grains and Oilseeds, 450 pp [This deals with the post-harvest technology of durable crops
  • D B Brooker
  • F W Bakker-Arkema
Brooker D. B., Bakker-Arkema F. W., and Hall C. W. (1992). Drying and Storage of Grains and Oilseeds, 450 pp. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. [This deals with the post-harvest technology of durable crops.]
Manure ManagementTreatment Strategies for Sustainable Agriculture. [This presents a three year collaboration involving more than 15 organizations in Europe conducting research on the treatment and management of livestock wastes
  • C H Burton
  • J Beck
  • P F Bloxham
  • P J L Derikx
  • J Martinez
Burton C. H., Beck J., Bloxham P. F., Derikx P. J. L., and Martinez J. (1997). Manure ManagementTreatment Strategies for Sustainable Agriculture. [This presents a three year collaboration involving more than 15 organizations in Europe conducting research on the treatment and management of livestock wastes.]