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Tapping the solar power

M A Siraj, Feb 11, 2014, DHNS: 20:14 IST
Creative Yallappa's (inset) solar-powered sprayer
Bellary district is gifted with abundant sunshine. Yet, not much thought has been given to tap solar energy and replace the polluting fossil fuels. But Yallappa D, an agricultural engineer, is making a difference, though in his own humble way.

Yallappa’s creative mind had been at work since he joined BTech course in Agriculture Engineering at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Raichur five years ago. Driven by a passion to contribute something to minimise the effort an average farmer puts in growing food, Yallappa had been working incessantly to develop implements that can be run through alternative sources of energy. Success came to him early in the career when he developed a solar-powered sprayer while pursuing his second year in college. The successful demonstration of the machine even won him a National Fellowship Award under Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY), a Government of India scheme, for the remaining years of study.

Yallappa’s solar-powered sprayer is a knapsack (can be carried on the back by the user) equipment with a 16-litre pesticide tank mounted with a 10 watt capacity solar panel and a 12 volt battery that gets charged under the sunshine. Farmers can carry the same to the field and use it continuously for 10 hours, under the bright Sun, to spray pesticide. They need to merely operate the switches and hold the spray tube in hand. The battery gets charged even while the power is used for running the spray. Yallappa says the equipment can cover crops over 0.13 of a hectare of farm in an hour.

But pesticide spraying is limited to only a few weeks in a typical crop season. So Yallappa thought of making it multipurpose. A little modification allowed it to be used as a lighting lamp during non-crop seasons. He even runs his radio with the solar-powered battery.

Yallappa says his solar-powered sprayer will cost merely Rs 6,250, while a petrol-operated machine would cost Rs 13,000 with an equivalent capacity tank in the market.

Meanwhile, Yallappa has finished his course and is employed with the spice unit of the ITC at Warangal. But that has not meant an end of the road of innovation for him. Last July, he was adjudged the winner of the Best Innovative Student Project Award by the Indian National Academy of Engineering for designing a pedal-operated flour mill for rural households.

Yallappa says he was moved by the plight of rural women who would spend hours grinding wheat, maize or oats in old fashioned stone grinders in non-electrified homes.

He thought of designing a pedal power flour mill. The grinder can be operated by a user by sitting on a bicycle-style seat and pedalling to run the grinders where flour gets collected in a disc-shaped collector below. He says it can grind all kinds of grain into fine flour or can break them into rava grains and can even be deployed for preparing fish feed. “While seven kilos of wheat can be ground at a cost of Rs 21 in commercial flour mills, the pedal-operated household units can give the same output at no cost for energy. He says his household flour mill can be set up at a cost of Rs 5,950.

Yallappa hails from Raravi village of Siruguppa taluk in Bellary district. He is talking to various manufacturers to commercially manufacture the implements. For details, contact: 0-7893634111; yallappa.raravi@gmail.com

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