TRACTOR-COUPLED IMPLEMENTS

These are implements which are coupled or attached to a tractor in order to enable it to perform its work. Examples of tractor-coupled implements are ploughs, harrows, ridgers, planters, cultivators, harvesters, sprayer, mower, baler, fertilizer applicator and harvester.

 

A) The Plough

The plough is a primary tillage (or soil cultivation) implement. It is the first implement required in land preparation. It is mainly driven by either work animals or tractor.

Types of Ploughs

There are two main types of ploughs. These are:

  • Disc plough.
  • Mouldboard plough.

 

Disc Plough

The disc plough is a strong implement adapted to tropical environment where the soil contains stones, hard pans, and roots of plants. It is capable of working efficiently under these conditions. Parts of a disc plough include beam or frame, coupling point or hinge, linkage point and scrapper. Other are sledge or knife, concave disc, rotating hubs or disc bearing, furrow wheel or balancing disc, spring, standard and beam cap.

Parts of a Disc plough and their Functions

  1. Beam Or Frame: (I) It holds disc in position or for attachment of the discs. (ii) It also bears additional weight for greater depth.
  2. Coupling point: This provides point of attachment to the tractor or work animal.
  3. Scrapper: It helps to remove soil or mud that cling to the disc.
  4. Concave disc or Disc: (i) It rotates and makes vertical and horizontal cuts as the tractor moves forward. (ii) It also inverts the soil.
  5. Disc Bearing: It holds the disc and allows its continuous rotation.
  6. Furrow Wheel: It provides a balancing effect for the plough as it supports both the vertical and side thrusts.
  7. Spring: It acts as shock absorber for the plough during movement.
  8. Standard: It holds the disc firmly to the beam.
  9. Beam Cap: It covers the hollow end of the beam:

Advantages of Using Disc Plough

The advantages of using disc plough over mouldboard plough in the tropics/West Africa include:

  1. Disc plough is capable of working on heavy soil, or tilling and moulding heavy soil.
  2. The disc plough is designed to roll over stumps and obstacles which may easily damage the edges of mouldboard plough.
  3. Roots of trees that grow extensively deep in the soil are easily removed by disc plough.
  4. Disc plough makes deeper cuts than mouldboard plough.
  5. Disc plough buries weeds more completely than mouldboard plough.

Disadvantages of Using Disc Plough

  1. It causes soil compaction due to its heavy weight.
  2. It may result in soil erosion.
  3. It leads to destruction of soil structure.

 

Mouldboard Plough

The mouldboard plough is also a primary tillage implement used for land preparation. It is adapted for use in temperate or light soil where there are no rocks, hard pans and plant roots. The mouldboard is not as strong as the disc plough.

Parts of the mouldboard plough include: beam or frame, coulter or vertical disc, share or share point, mouldboard and standard.

Parts of a Mouldboard Plough and their Functions

  1. Beam or Frame: It carries the plough and other components and provides additional weight for greater depth.
  2. Coulter or Vertical Disc: It makes vertical cuts/furrows.
  3. Share or Share Point: This makes horizontal cuts and uproots weeds.
  4. Mouldboard: (i)It carries the soil. (ii) It inverts the weeds or exposes the roots of weeds.
  5. Standard: It bears the mouldboard and share.

Advantages of Using Mouldboard Ploughs

  1. It can only be used in temperate soil or light soil.
  2. It can also be used in soil free from stones, stumps and hard pans.

Disadvantages of Using Mouldboard Ploughs

  1. It cannot be used very well in tropical environments.
  2. It is not as strong as the disc plough.
  3. It loses its share point when in contact with an obstacle.
  4. It predisposes soil to erosion.
  5. Soil compaction takes place when used often.

General Functions of Disc and Mouldboard Ploughs

  1. The ploughs bite the soil and turn it over to form soil clods or lumps.
  2. They can be used to control weeds.
  3. Their work helps to improve the aeration of the soil.
  4. They bury plants and crop residues, thereby improving the fertility of the soil.
  5. They help to mix the soil together.
  6. They improve water-infiltration capacity which increases the water content of the soil.

 

Primary and Secondary Tillage Implements

Primary

These are implements used to break and turn the soil over and in so doing, clods or lumps are formed, e.g. plough.

Secondary tillage implement

This is basically the implement used after ploughing to break down soil clods/lumps into fine tilth/ridging e.g. harrow, cultivator, ridger or implements used after ploughing to pulverize soil/ridging e.g. harrow, cultivator, ridger.

Reasons why disc ploughs are preferred to Mouldboard ploughs for soils in West Africa

  1. The soils often contain many obstacles such as rocks and stumps buried in the soil over which disc plough can easily roll.
  2. Soil surfaces are generally hard in West Africa, which can be more easily worked by the disc plough than the mouldboard plough.
  3. Disc plough cuts deeper than mouldboard plough.
  4. Disc plough buries weed more effectively than mouldboard plough.
  5. Disc plough works better on heavy or clay soil than mouldboard.

Reasons why secondary tillage is necessary before sowing of seeds

  1. It provides fine tilth for seed germination and emergence
  2. It enhances good soil structure for better root development.
  3. It improves soil aeration.
  4.  It controls weeds whose seeds become exposed on tillage, thus reducing early weed competition.
  5. It improves infiltration or soil water percolation.

 

B) Harrows

Harrow is a secondary tillage implement also used for land preparation. It can also be driven by work animals or a tractor. It is used immediately after ploughing and before ridging. The harrow is an instrument designed to break up soil lumps and level the surface after ploughing.

The popular type of harrow is the disc harrow. It works on the same principles as the disc ploughs. The disc harrow consists of numerous small discs, spaced closer on a common shaft to form a gang. There may be one or two pairs of gangs working in the same direction or in opposite direction.

Important parts of a harrow are handle, drawbar, scrappers, steel discs or discs and wheels.

Functions / Uses of Disc Harrow

  1. It helps to break up soil lumps created by plough.
  2. It pulverises the soil and puts it in better tilth or fine particles and levels the soil.
  3. It is used to remove weeds.
  4. It is used to cover seeds and fertilizers with soil.
  5. It helps to spread organic manure on the field and mixes them with soil.

 

C) Spring – tine Cultivator

The spring-tine cultivator or simply harrow is also a secondary tillage implement used for land preparation. This implement can be used immediately after ploughing and before harrowing or ridging.

It consists of a rectangular beam in which strong, pointed and vertical stalks are attached. The vertical stalks are bent forward to enable it to till the soil and withstand obstacles within the soil. The vertical stalks help the tine to overcome obstruction because it is strong, pointed and bent forward.

Functions / Uses of Spring – tine Cultivator

  1. It helps to break down large soil lumps or clods which remain after ploughing.
  2. It aids weed combing, i.e, removal of weeds from soil surface.
  3. It helps in dragging of roots and stones out of the soil.
  4. It can also be used for weeding and fertilising.
  5. It helps to stir the soil without turning it over.

 

D) Ridgers

The ridger is a secondary soil cultivation implement used for land preparation. The ridger is used after harrow and before planter. There are two main types of ridgers.

These are the disc and mouldboard ridgers. Both work on the same principle, but disc ridgers, like all disc implements, are better adapted to tropical environments.

There are five discs in the ridger, two discs in each part facing each other. It has a strong metal beam linking all the discs. The beam is connected through strong frames to a point of attachment to the tractor. The shape of the ridger is longitudinally symmetrical.

The implement is made entirely of strong metal. Important parts of the disc ridger include coulter, scrapper, standard and coupling point.

How the Disc Ridger Works

There are two sets of opposed single discs. Two discs in each set help to make two full ridges while the remaining discs on each set make half a ridge. Thus a total of two full ridges are made on each trip. On coming back, three full ridges and one half ridge are made.

Functions / Uses of the Ridger

  1. Ridgers are used mainly to make ridges.
  2. It eases the penetration of roots and tubers of crops after use.
  3. It helps to control erosion and improve aeration.
  4. It eases the percolation of water after use.
  5. It prevents the growth of weeds after use.
  6. It collects together rich top soil, thus increasing nutrient availability.
  7. It also facilitates the harvesting of root crops.

Maintenance of Ploughs, Harrows, Cultivators and Ridgers

  1. Keep implements clean by removing all trashes and mud from them at the start and at the end of operations.
  2. Ensure that nuts, caps, screws or shields are tight.
  3. Grease metal joints or bearings regularly.
  4. Adhere strictly to manual or manufacturers’ instructions.
  5. Replace worn-out parts.
  6. Keep implements in cool and dry sheds.
  7. Employ a competent and experienced tractor operator to ensure the use of these implements properly.

 

OTHER SIMPLE FARM MACHINES

E) Planters

The planter has a large container or hopper. It also has a ratchet and an agitator inside the container. Also present are spaced couters or furrow openers in front of the hopper. There is also a furrow-covering device behind the hopper and a roller behind the furrow-covering device. There are two long handles for the operator. The whole equipment is mounted on two wheels.

Function: These are machines or implements designed primarily to plant seeds of crops such as cotton, maize, guinea corn, rice, beans or cowpea.

Types of Planters

  1. Broadcast Crop Planter: This is designed to plant seeds by random scattering of seeds about the field.
  2. Row Crop Planter: This is designed to plant seeds along the rows in a ridge.
  3. Precision Planters: This is designed to place the correct number of seed(s) into a hole with regular spacing within and between rows.
  4. Grain Drill Planters: This is designed to place the correct number of seeds into the soil and space them between rows, but not within rows.

Parts of a Planter and their Functions

  1. Handles: They aid the operator to direct or control the planter.
  2. Furrow Opener or Hole Digger: It digs holes in front into which the seed(s) drop(s).
  3. Seed Hose or Seed Tube: It conducts or directs the seeds from the base of hopper into the hole dug.
  4. Seed Box or Seed Hopper: It contains the seeds to be planted.
  5. Furrow (Wheel) Press/Roller: It presses the soil to cover the seeds dropped into the hole.
  6. Marker: This traces the next furrow.
  7. Roller: It presses down the soil to cover the seed(s) planted.
  8. Coupling Point: This serves as point of attachment to the tractor or the work animal.
  9. Wheels: They aid the movement of the planter.

Maintenance of the Planter

  1. A planter should be used for the purpose for which it is meant.
  2. It should be dismantled and washed or cleaned after use.
  3. It should be stored under cool, dry environment.
  4. Metal parts should be oiled or greased to prevent rusting.
  5. Bolts and nuts should be inspected and tightened regularly.
  6. Replace worn-out parts.
  7. All movable joints should be lubricated.

 

F) Harvesters: These are machines of implements designed primarily to facilitate the process of harvesting various crops.

Types of Harvesters

Mower

  • This is used to clear weeds and other low or smaller grasses.
  • It can also be used to harvest forage grasses for hay and silage making.

Forage Harvester

  • It is used to harvest and chop green row crops. It combines the work of both row binder and silage cutter.
  • It removes the drudgery of lifting and loading of several tons of green bundles of maize per hectare.
  • It produces silage at a reduced cost.
  • It prevents the loss of moisture on the forage.

Combined Harvesters

  • It combines the functions of harvesting and threshing of grain crops.
  • It also separates the grains from the cobs or straws.
  • It cleans the grains by separating them from the chaff.
  • It ensures the passage of the grains and chaff through different nozzles.

 

G) Sprayers: These are types of equipment designed to spray certain chemicals in various farm operations.

Types of Sprayers: Types of sprayers include hand gun, knapsack sprayer, motorised sprayer, boom or tractor-mounted sprayer or electrodial and helicopter-mounted sprayer.

  1. Knapsack (Pneumatic) Sprayer: The pressure needed to spray chemical is provided by hand, i.e, it is a hand-operated sprayer.
  2. Tractor-Mounted Sprayer: This is mounted behind the tractor during spraying.
  3. Helicopter-Mounted Sprayer: This is mounted on a helicopter which sprays over a large area of land.

 

Description of Knapsack Sprayer

This sprayer is made of plastic, steel or galvanised iron. It is made up of a tank, a pump and a spray nozzle. It uses compressed air to drive the spray. It may be tractor-coupled or manually-operated.

Functions of Sprayers

  1. Sprayers can be used to control the growth of weeds through the use of herbicides.
  2. It is also used to control insects through the use of insecticides.
  3. It is also used to spray disinfectants on livestock houses and structures.
  4. It can be used for light irrigation or watering of vegetable beds.
  5. It can be used to spray liquid fertilizers and pesticides.

Precautions to take when spraying chemicals

  1. Do not spray on a windy day.
  2. Do not spray on a rainy day.
  3. The operator should wear protective clothings like face mask, gloves, overalls and boots when spraying.
  4. Do not spray in hot weather, especially in the afternoon.
  5. Do not draw water from the river with chemical container.
  6. Adhere to manufacturer’s specification / instructions.
  7. Blow blocked nozzle with mouth when spraying.
  8. Do not talk, smoke, drink or eat during spraying.

Maintenance of Sprayer

  1. It should be properly rinsed with water after use to get rid of left-over chemicals.
  2. Clean the nozzle and rinse with water to remove left-over chemicals.
  3. Keep in cool, dry place.
  4. Turn upside-down after use or cleaning.
  5. Operate according to instructions.

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