Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/21/2006
Publication Date: 9/26/2006
Citation: Amonov, M., Pulatov, A., Colvin, T.S. 2006. Machine innovation for inter row cotton cultivation in Uzbekistan. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 22:(5):665-674.
Interpretive Summary: Weeds reduce cotton yields by 25% or more. This is a large problem in Uzbekistan where, currently, cotton is raised on 1.5 million ha and provides almost 60% of the hard currency income. Methods to control weeds in cotton include herbicides, hand weeding, and mechanical cultivation. There is concern with the use of herbicides and their impact air, soil, water, and potential damage to the crop. Currently, cheap hand labor is used due to lack of herbicides and new cultivators. Thirty-four to 38% of the total 150-200 man-hours per ha are used for hand weeding. The cultivators that are now being used are inefficient. While reducing the speed of cultivation can increase accuracy and reduce uncultivated areas, it is estimated that 30,000 tons of fuel are wasted in cotton cultivation because of inefficient use of tractors. Cultivator equipment developed in this project included pivoted row gangs and springs to provide automatic guidance of the gangs that allowed for mechanical cultivation 2.5 cm closer to the crop plants at a 15% higher speed. This will result in less need for local producers to use herbicides and should reduce the need to use hand labor for weed control.
Technical Abstract: Uzbekistan is 5th largest producer of cotton and second, after the USA, in export of the crop. Inter-row cultivation is an important production operation that assists in soil loosening, weeding, fertilizing and ridge forming between the rows. However, the operation is difficult because the risk of crop plant damage is great during critical growth phases. The paper presents a new precision cultivator guidance design. The new guidance system utilizes light torsion pivots with gauging beams and guiding slits to reduce the protected zone surrounding the plants by 2.5 cm and improve the surface condition of the soil after cultivation. Herbicide use and hand labor could be reduced based on field results. This should allow for an increase in profit. The cultivator also allowed for an increase in operation speed by 14%.