Location: Soil Dynamics ResearchTitle: Development of a no-till transplanter for walk-behind tractors
Submitted to: Journal of the ASABE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/17/2022
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: ARS agricultural engineers located in Auburn, AL tested no-till transplanter for walk behind tractor they developed under Auburn, AL soil and climatic conditions. This development is essential to minimize heavy hand labor as required for planting vegetables on small/garden farms. There are two versions of the transplanter having the same operational principle, one with a solely complex mechanical components and control and the second with an electrically controlled system. The mechanical version was developed for a walk behind tractors not equipped with electric charging/battery system; in contrast the electrical version is intended to operate with newer walk-behind tractors equipped with electric charging system such as alternator and 12V battery. This version is 19% lighter than original design, with fewer components and weighs only 83 kg, allowing to easier maneuvering and operating. Field testing both devices proved that their performance is acceptable to work with different cover crops residues and are viable option to replace heavy physical labor on small/garden low-income no-till vegetable farms. Simplicity and availability of shelf components on commercial markets, especially the electric transplanter, will allow farmers to fabricate its own transplanters and further promote sustainable agricultural farming operations.
Technical Abstract: A no-till vegetable transplanter powered by a walk-behind tractor was developed to reduce heavy physical labor, that is often required on small scale farming operations. Currently, there are no existing commercially available no-till transplanters made for walk behind tractors. This concept can be an important factor in improving field transplanting operations by reducing time and human labor. The original patented concept was heavy (103 kg) and included complex mechanical assemblies to be powered by the tractor’s PTO (power-take-off). It was designed for walk behind tractors not equipped with a battery and alternator to charge the battery in which newer walk behind tractors are equipped. Therefore, the original functional idea of the transplanter did not change, but the transplanter’s components were modified and simplified by substituting mechanical drives and control mechanisms with a single 12-volt electric motor allowing variable RPM (infinity variable spacing) and reversible direction of rotation. The improved version of the transplanter has fewer components and weighs only 83 kg, a decrease of 20 kg which is 19% lighter than the original concept. This new version includes a more modular design allowing easier and faster fabrication, allowing farmers to fabricate their own transplanter to reduce costs and increase adoption of no-till vegetable systems with cover crops.