Development And Evaluation Of A Double Row Disc Ridger For Root And Tuber Crop Production

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ABSTRACT The introduction of mechanical harvesters has been a breakthrough in root and tuber crop cultivation as it has greatly reduced drudgery with a potential increase in global cassava production. However, the use of these equipment requires line or ridgeplanting. While ridging is preferred and can be done manually, empirical evidence suggests that manual ridging is laborious, time-consuming and the quality and standard of ridging cannot be guaranteed. The objective of this study was to develop and test the performance of a double-row disc ridger for root and tuber crop cultivation. Functional analysis (FA) and computer-aided design methodologies (CAD) were applied. The device was fabricated from locally available materials and tools, making it an adaptable, resilient and affordable technology for small-scale farmers. The prototype was tested at varied tractor speed ranging from 1.67 – 2.5 m/s (6 – 9 km/h) and disc angle from 40o - 45o to determine the draught force, fuel consumption, wheel-slip, depth and width of cut. Preliminary results indicate that optimum performance was achieved at disc and tilt angle of 42.5o and 25o and tractor speed of 2.23 m/s (8 km/h). The ridger recorded a field capacity of 1.45 ha/h and average fuel consumption of 6.3 l/ha (9.14 l/h). It was observed that increased tractor speed and disc angle resulted in increased draught force from 1.8 – 2.4 kN, increased fuel consumption from 5.2 – 7.04 l/ha (7.81 – 10.45 l/h) and increased depth and width of cut from 30 – 40 cm and 250 – 280 cm, respectively. A hazard and operability (HAZOP) study established possible deviations, causes, consequences, safeguards, and recommendations for users. Further research is necessary to establish the effect of different moisture content and soil type on the performance of the ridger. Wear and durability test on different agro-ecologies are also recommended.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of MASTER OF PHILOSOPHY IN AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY ENGINEERING