Indian agriculture is traditionally rainfed and dryland cultivation. Farming practices are heavily dependent on physical labour and the rising cost of cultivation, acute labour shortage to carry out the farming practices in time, lead many to think of alternative practices for improving their farm productivity in a sustainable manner.
About 65 per cent of the total cropped area in India is rainfed. About 45 per cent of food grains and 75 – 80 per cent of pulses and oilseed production come from rainfed areas. In dry regions the soil contains a number of small pebbles and stones hindering farming activities such as land preparation and intercultural operations.
Though rainfed drylands receive less amount of rainfall, the intensity during the short downpour is very high which leads to top soil runoff resulting in soil erosion and more number of pebbles and stones getting exposed in the field. Over years, productive lands turn barren and uncultivable because of low fertility, reduced water holding capacity and the presence of these stones.
‘Huge amount of labour is engaged and its unavailability is the major problem faced by the farmers. In general, women are engaged in the removal of pebbles and stones in dry land farming before the start of the cropping season, and they undergo serious physical stress while doing such field operations.’ says Dr.P. Alagesan, programme co-ordinator, Erode KVK, MYRADA (Mysore Resettlement and Development Agency). Till now there has been no machinery available to remove these stones from a field. While we have machines for sowing, spraying and harvesting till date no device has been developed for this small but importance aspect in farming.
It was left to Mr.K.Viswanathan, an innovative farmer from Kullampalayam village of Gobichettipalayam Taluk, Erode district to develop a tractor operated stone remover.
The stone remover requires 35 HP power or above. It consists of conveyor chains drive gearbox, PTO shaft and the bottom of the stone remover is connected with tines. Tippers are connected to the back of the equipment.
While operating the conveyor chain is rotated at the rate of 12 – 16 rotations per minute. At the same time, the tines loosen the soil and the stones and small pebbles are pulled into the conveyor chain and collected in the tipper. The machine is capable of picking stones ranges from 25mm to 120mm size from a depth of 15 – 25. In a day it can used to clear five acres.
“In dryland farming system, the stone removing activity is essential before starting of the cropping season in order to obtain the optimum productivity from the farming. In this context this particular innovation is essential to improve productivity of the farming in dryland condition,” says Mr.S.Saravanakumar, Agronomy specialist at the institute.
Priced at Rs.1,50,000.00 the salient features of the equipment are it removes the stones, pebbles from the field, improves the structure and texture of the soil, increases the water holding capacity of soil and makes the soil easy for nursery preparation and other activities.
It is suitable for hilly regions and drylands. It can also be modified for harvesting tuber crops.
In the recent past, tuber crops have become common as the best alternate crop in the hilly regions, since it fetches better prices when compared to cereal crops. Tapioca, potato, radish, turmeric are the major tuber and rhizome crops cultivated in over 20,000 hectares in Erode district and harvesting is very labour-intensive. Manual harvesting leads to lot damage of tubers and there are high chances of tubers remaining unharvested. This innovation will help farmers in harvesting of tuber and rhizome crops without additional labour. It will harvest the crop without any damage and reduces the left over produces in the field. By using this machine a farmer can harvest 2.5 acres of field in a day and preliminary cleaning can also be done at the time of harvesting; it was estimated that 40 – 50% of labour time can be saved. This machinery serves multiple purposes like stone removing, harvesting and preliminary cleaning of tubers and rhizomes says Mr.K. Viswanathan, innovator.

For more details interested readers can contact to:

Mr.K.Viswanathan,293, Teachers Nagar,
Kullampalayam post,
Gobichettipalayam T.k., Erode District – 638 476,
Mobile No.: 9443205244 and
Dr. P. Alagesan, Programme Coordinator,
Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kalingiyam P.O.,
Erode district-638 453,
Phone: 04285-241626; 241627,
mobile: 09443897654.