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mikey

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Corn Planter:
« on: April 11, 2008, 11:47:54 AM »
Every good standing corn starts with a good planter

by Rita T. dela Cruz
 April-June 2007
Volume 9 Issue No. 2 

 

Some years ago, this could have been mistaken as a want ad of a farmer wanting to work in a big farm. Since everything has to be done manually, farmers have to do it by hand and so farm operations have to be specialized— someone to plow, disk, and harrow the soil, someone to plant the seeds, fertilize, cultivate, harvest, and store the crops.

Before, it was just the man, the beast, and his land to tilt. Now, with agricultural mechanization coming into view, machines and equipment have become more of a necessity to maximize farm production and profit.

Their use and application have become major inputs, particularly as management tools, towards the realization of a modernized Philippine agriculture.

For corn, the second most important crop in the country next to rice, everything starts with a good seed. And every good seed has to be carefully planted to produce good standing crops. Thus, in a highly-mechanized farm, every good standing corn starts with a good corn planter.

A corn planter suited for local condition
In as much as planting of corn seeds is the most important operation in corn production, it is also the most difficult and tedious especially for large farms. If done manually, a hectare of land requires eight-man days to finish.

Farmers have earlier resorted to the idea of buying machineries to ease the production process. Mechanized planting has a lot of advantages compared to manual planting, precision- and quality-wise.

But most corn planters available in the market are imported, thus expensive. Some of them even need further modification just to suit the local conditions. Another problem with the existing corn planters is that they are mostly suited to large farms and are not appropriate to local farm sizes. It is difficult to optimize the use of a big, bulky corn planter given that average size of individual farms in the Philippines is less than two hectares only. The investment cost for machine is not likely to be recovered.

 
PHOTO BY BPRE
An alternative strategy was therefore suggested to mechanize small farm holdings by introducing smaller machine that is more appropriate for average farm sizes and suited for local condition. The basic idea is to create smaller machines for smaller farms.

Given such strategy, the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) led by Engrs. Ofero A. Capariño and Andres M. Tuates Jr., developed and fabricated a pneumatic corn planter that is technically and financially viable to local needs.

Other researchers involved in the development of the machine were: Manolito Bulaong, Wryan Quiel Viloria, Donald Mateo, Jimmy Esguerra, and Ruben Manalabe of BPRE.

Why pneumatic?
The machine developed by BPRE is actually a tractor operated pneumatic planter. This means that the corn planter itself can be attached to the rear of any four-wheel tractor through a standard three-point hitch.

Although tagged as corn planter, this machine is also equipped with fertilizer applicator assembly and seed covering device.

It also uses a pneumatic metering system (pms) which make it capable of planting any sizes of corn seeds. This system is advantageous since the Philippine hybrid corn seeds are not graded according to size. The pms is operated by a 5 hp gasoline engine.

It is called pneumatic because the machine works on the air suction principle. A seed coming in contact gets stuck to the holes on the plate and falls when suction is cut-off at the lowest position near the soil.

The corn planter can be installed in pairs to create two rows or depending on the horse power capability of the tractor in which the planter will be attached.

Specifications
The BPRE pneumatic corn planter consists of four major assemblies: mainframe, drive, planting, and fertilizer applicator.

The mainframe assembly consists of seven parts (frame, hitch, engine base, engine, vacuum blower, support stand, and soil opener for fertilizer) while the drive assembly has four (two ground wheels for fertilizer applicator gearbox and for seed metering gearbox, and two gearboxes for fertilizer applicator and seed metering).

The planting assembly has 10 parts: connecting arm, soil opener for seed, pneumatic seed metering, seed hopper, seed plate, scraper/trimmer, discharge tube, depth gauge/pressing wheels, seed covering device, and optional furrower. This assembly was built with adjustments for row spacing, hill spacing, and seed depth. The optional furrower creates the V-shape furrow into the soil to facilitate easy irrigation after planting, which is the common practice in among corn farm areas.

The fertilizer applicator is a six-part assembly comprising of tank, discharge roller, distribution hose, agitator, funnel and a stabulizer. This assembly has an adjustable metering device to regulate the amount of fertilizer, depending on the requirement of the soil. Also, unlike the commercially-available model, this one is made of stainless steel to protect against corrosion. Aside from the adjustable metering, it has a fertilizer application rate which could be set depending on the bags of fertilizer required per hectare.

Benefits and advantages
The development and fabrication of any new machine is only considered successful given that the prototype model has indeed achieved what it claims—high acceptability in terms of technical performance, economic viability, and suitability under local condition given the existing corn production practices.

Developers of the BPRE pneumatic corn planter tested the corn machine under different field conditions. Results were then evaluated, including its financial probability for commercialization and adoption of the technology.

Results of the study showed that the planter obtained a highest planting capacity of 3.3 ha/day, with a forward speed of 4 kph under both sandy and clay loam soil. Under the same speed, the highest hill planting efficiency was achieved at 93.73% under clay loam soil.

The field efficiency resulted from 62.4% to 77.05%, which was less of an achievement. This is to be treated subjectively since the efficiency result depends on the vastness of the field and the skill of the operator to turn and maneuver the machine.

The estimated investment cost for the BPRE pneumatic corn planter is P585,349 (reconditioned tractor and working capital included). According to the developers, given that an investor acquires the machine for custom services, financial analysis showed that the corn planter is profitable with a benefit cost ratio of 1.39 and an internal rate of return of 28.73%. The investment cost for the corn planter is recovered in 3.55 years.

At the moment, BPRE is commercializing this technology for massive adoption to increase its use and achieve a lower cost of the planter. Adoption of this technology will not only help our local corn producer to have a better, cheaper option, it will also help in the government's effort to minimize importation of expensive corn machineries and equipment.

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This article was based on the study, “Design and Development of BPRE Pneumatic Corn Planter” by Engr. Ofero Capariño, Mr. Manolito Bulaong, Engr. Andres Tuates Jr., Wryan Quiel Viloria, Donald Mateo, Jimmy Esguerra, and Ruben Manalabe of the Bureau of Postharvest and Research Extension (BPRE), CLSU Compound, Science City Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, Philippines.

For more information, please contact the project leader, Engr. Ofero A. Capariño, chief science research specialist, at telephone nos. (044) 4560-213, 4560-290, 4560-282, or 4560-287 local 500 or email at execdir@bpre.gov.ph.

 


 

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