PAPER TITLE :DEVELOPMENT AND PERFORMANCE EVALUATION OF A WEEDER FOR PEASANT FARMERS

JOURNAL Of SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY | VOLUME 1 NUMBER 1 2010

Paper Details

  • Author(s) : OLUKUNLE, O.J.
  • Abstract:

Mechanical weeders are generally employed for weed removal in developed countries due to the environmental friendly nature of the equipment. However, manual weeding is still prevalent in Africa, especially in Nigeria, where about 75 % of the population is engaged in farming for subsistence. In order to meet the need of these peasant farmers, a walk-behind weeder was developed and subjected to performance evaluation at the Federal University of Technology, Akure in Nigeria. Three models (A-C) of the row-crop weeder were previously developed and found to be satisfactorily efficient. In this study, however, these models were subjected to critical and objective appraisals. The outcome was used as basis for development of a walk-behind weeder for peasant farmers. The weeder consists of the weeding brush, the belt/pulley power transmission system, four wheels and a rigid frame. A 3.72 kW Honda engine was selected as power source based on estimated power requirement. Major parameters affecting the machine performance are brush speed, forward speed, soil moisture conditions and weed type. The four-wheeled weeder presents major areas of improvement on the previous designs, including enhancement of operator’s comfort, increased machine stability and improved efficiency. The machine has a 50 cm width of cut and a field capacity of 0.18 ha/h (or 1.44 ha/8 working hours of the day). Field efficiency and functional (weeding) efficiency were estimated as 92% and 94%, respectively. The machine works best at 2000 rpm brush speed and weed height <40 cm. This weeder is, perhaps, a major breakthrough to reduce human labour for weeding without environmental hazards in Sub-Saharan Africa. A simple multiple linear regression model, used to explore the relations between weeding efficiency (fe) and operational parameters, indicated that fe was estimated with a high degree of accuracy based on brush speed, forward speed, and soil moisture (R2 = 0.97; SE = 0.39; P < 0.0001).