SOURCES OF FARM POWER
DEFINITION OF POWER
Power is defined as the rate of doing work or the rate of expenditure of energy. Farm power can be obtained from the following sources:
- Human power.
- Animal power.
- Mechanical power.
- Electrical power.
- Solar power.
- Wind power.
- Water power.
1) HUMAN OR MANUAL POWER
Human power is derived from the power provided by human beings. It is the most common source of power in farm operations. With the aid of his intelligence, man uses his hand to perform certain farm operations.
Human labour is used with traditional tools. It involves more people than all other sources of power. Human labour can be hired; it may be skilled or unskilled.
Farm Operations which Require Human Power
Human power is required in all farm operations. In crop production, for example, human power is required in:
- land clearing,
- land preparation, e.g ., ploughing, harrowing and ridging.
- food processing.
Advantages of Human Power
- Man uses his intelligence to control the work he does.
- It is easily available in all farm operations.
- It has control over all other sources of farm power.
- It is the most intelligent source of power used for precision jobs.
- It is easy to control and readily available.
- It is used with traditional tools.
- It can be used for jobs that require precision.
Disadvantages of Human Power
- Human power is not stable. A normal human power is about 75W and it decreases to about 20W when it is used continuously; that is, output is low.
- It cannot perform tedious farm operations like land preparation, planting and weeding, without being exhausted.
- Poor state of health of the individual may affect his performance.
- It may be expensive.
- Human labour can easily get fatigued.
- Human beings can easily die.
- Efficiency decreases with age.
- It consumes time and is less efficient.
2) ANIMAL POWER
This is the type of power derived from some animals which are used to perform certain farm operations. Animals like the bull are used for pulling ploughs, harrows, planters, ridgers while donkeys, camels and horses are used for transportation of farm produce. Animals can be hired.
Draught animals such as oxen, bullock, etc are yoked. The yoke is attached to any farm implement. Animal drags the implement while man controls the direction of the implement for the tillage of soil.
Qualities of a Good Draught Animal
- It must have a good body size or deep barrel.
- It must have strong hind limbs and a sloping rump.
- It must possess strong hooves, good stride and stance (gait).
- It should be preferably male or castrated.
- Draught animal must be docile.
- It should be healthy.
- It must be energetic or strong, or powerful.
Precautions to be Observed when Using Draught Animals
- Treat animals fairly to prevent them from being hostile.
- Apply muzzle.
- Do not overwork draught animals
- The best time to use them to work is early in the morning or evening.
- Make sure that animals are healthy.
- Keep them in a healthy environment.
- Feed and provide them with adequate
Farm Operations which Require Animal Power
Animal power is required in the following farm operations:
- For carrying people.
- For drawing ploughs.
- For drawing harrows.
- For drawing ridgers.
- For transporting loads e.g ., farm produce, fertilizers and chemicals.
- For drawing planters.
Factors that may affect the efficiency of draught animals
- Health of the animal/diseases.
- Food intake.
- Breed of the animal/genetic make-up
- Weight of the animal.
- Age of the animal.
- Poor management of the animal.
- Harness used for hitching.
- Sex of the animal.
- Training given to the animal.
- Climate/environmental factors.
Advantages of using Animal Power
- Animals provide good traction even under difficult conditions.
- Animals can pull loads that are many times heavier than those the farmers can carry.
- Animals have higher output as compared to humans.
- Maintenance costs are comparatively lower than those of machines
- Using animals do not require high technical knowledge.
- Animals provide a source of meat after exceeding their useful working life.
- Animal wastes return to the soil as fertilizers.
- Animals are ecology-friendly.
- Animals can work for longer period than man.
- It reduces drudgery and makes work easy.
Disadvantages of Using Animal Power
- Animals are prone to diseases.
- Animals may be difficult to control as they are aggressive.
- Animals are slow in their operations as compared to machines.
- Animals cannot cover large area of land unlike machine.
- They require continuous attention whether working or not.
- They suffer fatigue as humans.
- They can destroy/eat up the crops.
- Their work efficiency is low.
- Zoonotic diseases of animals may affect humans.
- It requires some level of training to handle animals.
- Not adapted to all environments.
- Limited to certain types of operation.
3) MECHANICAL POWER
This requires the use of machines and engines like planters, harvesters, ploughs, harrows, ridgers to carry out various farm operations like ploughing, harrowing, weeding, planting, harvesting, processing and transportation. They facilitate the cultivation of large hectares of land. Machines are used in tractions, grinding, food processing and others. Examples are tractors, generators, water pump and bulldozers.
Farm Operations which Require Mechanical power.
Mechanical power is required in many farm operations which include:
- food processing.
- transportation of inputs and outputs.
- feed milling.
Advantages of Mechanical Power
- It can handle more land area per unit of time.
- It works faster and more efficiently.
- It reduces labour cost and overall cost of production.
- It is not prone to diseases.
- It can perform a wide range of farm operations.
- They reduce farm drudgery or they make farm work less tedious.
- They make farm operations timely.
Disadvantages of Mechanical Power
- It requires high capital investment. That is, it is costly to purchase.
- It requires lots of technical skills to operate.
- It can lead to displacement of labour (unemployment).
- It cannot be used by small scale farmers.
- It can cause air pollution through gases from exhaust pipe.
- It is not easily available.
- It requires high cost of maintenance.
- It can destroy soil structure.
4) ELECTRICAL POWER
Electrical power is the type of power derived from electricity or generator. Electricity is used for many purposes. It is a neat or clean source of energy. It is very efficient and reliable, but expensive.
Farm Operations which Require Electrical Power
Electrical power is required in the following farm operations:
- milking machines.
- drying of products.
- brooding of chicks.
- shelling of fruits/seeds.
- feed milling/grinding/mixing.
- most processing operations e.g. par boiling, threshing and winnowing.
- egg grading.
Advantages of Electrical Power
- It cannot contaminate products, thus making them safe for human consumption.
- It is a cheap source of power.
- It is very versatile, i.e, it can be used for various services and at different times.
- It is very neat.
- It aids fast operation or increases production.
- It is very dependable.
- It is easy to operate.
- It is efficient or it saves labour.
Disadvantages of Electrical Power
- Its supply is not always regular, especially in developing countries like Nigeria.
- It is dangerous or fatal, if carelessly handled.
- It must be strictly controlled or regulated.
- Its maintenance cost may be high.
- It is very expensive.
- It can cause fire hazards.
- It cannot be widely used in field operations.
5) SOLAR POWER
Solar energy is derived from the radiation, light and heat reaching the earth’s surface from the sun. The energy from the sun is the ultimate source of energy. Solar energy is converted into electrical energy by solar panels installed in buildings.
In other words, solar energy is trapped by photo – voltaic cell or solar collectors or panels. It is then converted to electrical energy which can be stored in batteries. It can also be used directly.
Farm Operations which Require Solar Power
Solar power is required in the following farm operations:
- Generation of electricity or electrical power.
- It is used in heating of farmstead.
- Processing of farm produce,e.g., drying of materials such as melon, cocoa, maize, meat and fish.
- Electricity generated can be used for several farm operations.
- Solar energy is used by crops for photosynthesis.
Advantages of Solar Power
- It is a cheap source of farm power.
- Running cost is low because no fuel is consumed.
- Solar energy technology is environment-friendly.
- It can be stored for later use.
- Solar energy technologies are modular aid that can be tailored to the power needs of individual applications.
- Solar panels have long life span.
- They are economically viable and competitive.
Disadvantages of Solar Power
- The performance of solar systems is weather-dependent. It is also erratic or irregular.
- Some solar technologies require sophisticated manufacturing processes available in only a few developed countries.
- There is an initial high capital cost.
- Special training for personnel and special infrastructure are needed for the installation and maintenance of these technologies.
- The batteries have negative environmental impacts, especially during manufacture and disposal.
- It is available for harnessing only during the day.
- May not be used to power heavy machines.
6) WIND POWER
Wind power is generated by wind movement. Its use in windmill helps to pump water out of a borehole to a generating set for the production of electricity. Wind power can be converted to mechanical power.
Farm Operations which Require Wind Power
Wind power is required in the following farm operations:
- Operation of wind mills in which the force of the wind is converted into electricity.
- It is used in winnowing, i.e, separation of chaff from grains.
- It is used for drying produce.
- It can be used to generate electrical power.
- It can be used for propelling ships.
- It may be used in pumping water out of a borehole.
Advantages of Wind Power
- It can serve as alternative to electrical power.
- It is cheap.
- It is available everywhere.
Disadvantages of Wind Power
- Its supply is sporadic and uncertain as power depends on the wind.
- Its operation is expensive compared with the energy it generates.
- It is limited to certain farm operations.
- It cannot be stored and it is difficult to control.
- Efficiency is highly varied.
7) WATER POWER
Water power is the power derived from water flowing in rivers, streams and dams. Water is used in hydro-electric stations to drive the turbines.
Farm Operations which Require Water Power
Water power is required for the following farm operations:
- In hydro-electric power stations, water is used to drive turbines that generate electricity.
- The electricity so generated can be used for many farm operations.
- It is used in transportation, e.g, logs and farm goods.
- It is used to operate steam engines.
- It is used by crops for normal growth.
- It can be used for processing farm products.
Advantages of Water Power
- It is very cheap.
- It is easy to be harnessed.
- It can easily be converted to other forms of energy.
Disadvantages of Water Power
- Low level of water can lead to low electricity output.
- It is not available in all areas.
- Supply is affected by weather.
- It does not supply power directly.
- It must be harnessed to generate power.
- It could be destructive if carelessly handled.
Biogas is a new method of generating power by making use of farm wastes, especially animal dung. Animal dung is carefully collected and processed through scientific means to produce certain gas that provides power.
Animal droppings mixed with water are accumulated in airtight device called digester or dome. As it decays anaerobically by microbes, hydrocarbon (methane) which is a colourless and odourless gas is released. This hydrocarbon is stored and used for heating and lighting.
Advantages of Biogas
- It constitutes a cheap source of power.
- It can convert chemical power in dung to heat power.
- Power derived from biogas can be used as source of heat for brooding chicks.
- The power can also be used for cooking and drying.
- It can easily be controlled.
Disadvantages of Biogas
- It is not a common source of power.
- It requires expertise which may not be easily available.
- It may be expensive to set up and maintain.
- It is only limited to where animals are reared on commercial basis, where dung is easily available.