A sugarcane planter on the field
Shortage of labour is one of the causes of poor quality and lack of productivity in farming. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. Likewise, this year saw innovation and inventions in the farming sector to deal with the shortage of labour, the main challenge in the sector. Interestingly, most of these innovations were proposed by enthusiastic farmers. Here are some innovative experiments that were put in place in the recent past to aid the farmers of Karnataka.
Santosh Kaveri from Belagavi has designed a simple system to control the bullock cart by attaching a brake liner. This system comes handy at the time of loading, riding on steep slopes, going uphill and turning at a short radius without hurting the bullocks. Another simple device designed by him is the carrot cleaning machine which could clean one quintal of carrots in just 15 minutes with the help of only two people, whereas manual cleaning of the same would require the effort of 12 people.
A D Mohan Kumar, a native of Kodagu, has designed a small ploughing machine for farmers who cannot afford to buy tillers, tractors or find it difficult to maintain a pair of bullocks. He has also invented the machine for dressing chickens and a spraying machine to be used in coffee, pepper and areca plantations.
With the help of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and National Innovation Foundation (NIF), Girish Badragond of Vijayapura has designed borewell scanners, advanced mode micro-irrigation system, bird repeller and solar mini inverters. The bird repeller is equipped with eight speakers and a timer with a long-lasting battery to repel birds from attacking the crops. The mini solar inverter can light two CFL bulbs for an entire day.
The advanced micro-irrigation system designed by him is capable of regulating the flow of water from a distance. The borewell scanner comes with a camera with flash, it efficiently clicks pictures and checks the outflow and inflow of water while drilling the borewell. This apart, Girish has built a terrace garden water management machine, for the urban populace. This device can be timed and it will water your garden in your absence. Arvind Laxmeshwar, from Sirsi, has developed a variety of machines for processing areca. Dharma Technologies in Tumakuru, headed by Shylaja Vittala, offers a range of processing machines like areca nut dehusking machine and a multipurpose peeler suitable for fruits and vegetables. She also makes customised machines.
Devi Murthy, an electrical engineer and founder of Kamal Kisan, Bengaluru, aims to develop a series of farm equipment for small farm owners. Backed by a seed fund from IIT Madras's rural technology and business incubation centre, she developed a rice transplanter, potato and legume harvester, coconut harvester, sugarcane transplanter, etc.
Kamal Kisan is working on building a sugarcane planter as well. It will combine the process of ridging, planting and furrowing to increase efficiency. It can also be used with tractors with power as low as 30 hp. The planter can plant one acre of sugarcane in four to five hours with just two persons as against six members working over five days, saving up to 80% of the cost.
Some of its other innovations are versatile mulch layer, bed maker, vegetable handy planter, power weeder, etc. "Our aim is to add at least four new products to our portfolio each year," says Devi.
Satish K S, a software engineer and co-founder of Flybird Farm Innovations, Holalkere, has developed an automatic, low-cost irrigation controller called Siri. He is now working on making the product wireless.
These young talents with a passion for farming have set an example for many. Their innovations relay the message that formal education is not a precondition to achieving something substantial in life. Such innovators are the real achievers who help build a strong foundation for growth in rural India.