A team of researches at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur has developed energy-efficient pest controlling devices for smaller agricultural lands.
The research team has developed a self-propelled boom-type sprayer that can be operated using solar energy and safely guided through the crops in smaller tracts of land, informed the institute in a press release.
The main aim behind developing this device is to increase field capacity and maintain uniformity in liquid spraying. Apart from this, it also aims to reduce drudgery to the operator and dependency on fossil fuel for carrying out spraying in agricultural fields.
The semi-automated device is developed by Hifjur Raheman, Anup Behera Rahul K and PBS Bhadoria from the department of agricultural and food engineering at IIT Kharagpur, reported India Today.
The machine will also address several challenges faced while operating mechanised pest control systems in the small farm sector.
The system comprises a propelling unit fitted with a liquid storage tank. It has a DC motor and operated pump to pressurize the liquid to be sprayed. There are multiple spray nozzles mounted on a boom fitted to the front of the machine to cover wider width at a time.
One of the important processes involved in increasing the yield includes preventing pests and diseases during different growth stages of crop growth. For operating on larger tracts of farmlands, tractor mounted sprayers are used. On the other hand, manually operated knapsack sprayer is used for smaller tracts.
The skill of the operator also impacts the efficiency of spraying. At times, it results in non-uniformity in spraying. Spraying requires intensive labour capacity and operation time. Using tractor-mounted sprayers in smaller tracts would make the crops prone to damages due to their higher turning radius.
It also leads to the wastage of chemicals due to lower control on automated spraying. It causes environmental pollution as well due to the fuel emissions from the tractor.
A set of solar-powered batteries act as the power source while operating the device. What makes it different from a knapsack sprayer is that the liquid storage tank is of bigger capacity and it is carried on a solar-powered three-wheeler trolley.
An operator controls the movement of the spraying unit. The height required to carry out spraying differs for different heights of crops. A solar panel is mounted on top of the machine to provide continuous power supply during operation. It even provides shade to the operator during spraying in the field.
The researchers have filed a patent for the product and it is almost ready for commercialization.
The director of the institute said that they had developed several such technologies covering micro-irrigation, shade net cultivation and food processing at the department of agricultural and food engineering which are in use in various villages across the 23 districts of West Bengal and other states in Eastern India covering almost 20000 farmers.
He also reiterated that such innovations empower farming community members and it paves the pathway towards Atmanirbhar Bharat.