Manila: A Filipina engineering student could help revolutionise corn farming in her country with a rather simple planting device that significantly raises the productivity of small-scare farmers, allowing them to plant more in less time.
Rosette Sabiniano, a 21-year-old mechanical engineering student of the University of the Philippines (UP), invented the gear that field tests show could speed up the laborious process of corn planting, GMA News reported.
Sabiniano, from San Jose City in the rice-growing province of Nueva Ecija, spent most of her childhood with her grandfather. She watch her “Tatang” in amazement as he ploughed the fields under the sun.
“He is the most dedicated and hard-working farmer I know. Because of him and his ideals, I learned to respect not just the farmers but the working class in this country,” she told the network.
As a self-confessed grandpa’s girl, Sabiniano said her grandpa inspired to think hard about farming and use her creativity to help improve their lives.
Sabiniano designed the mechanical corn planter — which she described as a “a cheap, sustainable and easy-to-assemble equipment” — which could significantly raise farmers’ productivity.
Corn is the second-most abundant crop in the country. Considering the method of corn farming in the Cagayan Valley region, the Philippines’ largest corn producer, Sabiniano designed an alternative way of sowing for small-scale farming.
Sabiniano’s device uses galvanized iron tubes, metal sheet, two bearings, and metal plates.
“The important parts of the design were the diameter of the seed containers, the position of the holes of the seed containers, the diameter of the wheels and its anti-slippage structure and the structure of the furrower,” she said.
The device has three functions — which it simultaneously executes: furrowing, seed dropping, and seed covering. The farmers just have to push down the controller or the handle up to the desired depth of cut in the soil and pull the equipment.
In the traditional way of farming, these methods are undertaken separately, with the farmer sowing the soil first with a carabao or a tractor and then individually dropping seeds.
“Based on my results, the equipment is 14 times faster than the method of planting applied today, so I think, that speaks for it,” Sabiniano said.
In her study, she compared how long a farmer could plant corn in a 500 sqm plot of land. Using manual labour, it took about 1 hour and 47 minutes. With her corn planter, the job can be done in 7 minutes.
A key advantage of the gear is it is made of movable parts that can be interchanged.
“It can be disassembled part by part, so that, when one component malfunctions, the farmers will not have to change everything, but only that specific component,” she said.
The device would be of help to small-scale farmers who do not have money to buy big equipment meant for large-scale farming.
“From what I see, the equipment available now is for large-scale farming. But we seem to have forgotten that a large percentage of farmers in the Philippines are poor, with small plots of land who could ill-afford existing industrial farming equipment,” she noted. “My main goal here is to help the poor farmers,” she added.
Sabiniano’s project won second place in the 2016 Undergraduate Project Competition of the University of the Philippines College of Engineering.
After graduation, she plans to work with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to commercialise her project.
“I want to reach out to the farmers, help them create their own corn planter with the aid of DA. And as an engineer of the people, I want to help them by utilising my knowledge and skills in designing an agricultural equipment that will make their lives easier,” she said.