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Farm Machinery and Sources of Farm Power

The different levels of agricultural production often depend upon the nature of farm machinery used by farmers. Based on this, the small and large scale agricultural production, that are usually considered as subsistence and commercial practices tend to relatively depend upon whether the farm machinery are simple or complex. In the same vein, these farm machinery tend to also depend on the various sources of farm power to promote effective operations that are often carried out on the farm.

Meaning of Farm Machinery
Farm machinery is the farm equipment that is systematically employed on the farm to facilitate effective farming operations by farmers. Farm machinery is of immense importance to farmers because of the fact that greater farm activities can be carried out by the use of farm equipment compared with a case, where farm machinery are not employed.

Types of Machinery
Farm machinery is normally of different types ranging from the simple to the complex farm equipment. Farm machinery may either be operated manually or automated in the course of farm operations. Farm machinery includes cultivator, harrow, plough, ridgers, planter, mower, sprayer, harvester, tractor and bull dozer which are usually employed in agricultural production. Others include incubator, refrigerator, milking machine, candler, sheller, dryer and waster pump, Farm equipment used on the farm for farming operations also include sickle, secateur, go-to-hell, tatooning set, hand trowel, buddizzo, shear, spade, rake, head pans, machete, dibbar, digger, hoe, Gunter’s chain or measuring tape, prismatic compass, ranging pole, etc.

Sickle is a simple farm equipment or implement used in harvesting cereals. Secateur is a farm implement used for pruning shrubs, sickle is a farm equipment used in harvesting fruits on trees. Hand trowel is the farm tool used in transplanting of seedlings from nursery site to permanent field. Buddizzo is a farm equipment used in the castration of farm animals. Dibbar is the farm equipment used in making holes in which seedlings are planted. Digger or excavator is used in breaking hard soil particles in the farm. It is also used in clearing of bushes during pre-planting operations carried out on the farm. Rake is the farm equipment used in collecting or gathering of the heaps or debris of plants and animals in the farm. Head pan is the simple farm tool used in collecting farm produce to a collection point in the farm. Gunter’s chain is the ancient farm survey equipment used in determing the elevation or height of farm topography. It has now been replaced by measuring tape, also used for the same purpose. Ranging pole is the survey equipment used in determining the relative distances between two distances in the farm.

In the same vein, complex farm machinery as well as the various advantages and disadvantages associated with the use of the different farm equipment will be discussed in the underlying parts of this chapter.

(i) Bulldozer
This is a complex farm equipment that is operated mechanically. It is the most appropriate farm machinery required for opening up a virgin forest for crop production.

Advantages

(i) It is relatively efficient in the farm operation.
(ii) It requires little labour.
(iii) It readily aids felling of trees in the forest.
(iv) It has broad tyres that can move into water logged forest with ease.
(v) its body parts are made of hard metals that are not easily damaged in the forest.

Disadvantages

(i) It may lead to soil erosion in the farm.
(ii) It may reduce soil fertility.
(iii) It may lead to hard soil clod.
(iv) It may cause exposure of the soil to deforestation and intense heat.
(v) It may result into high soil plasticity in poor soil type.

(ii) Cultivator
Cultivator is a sophisticated farm machinery, which has a hard, and sharpened metallic surface at the extended ends. It is the most appropriate farm implement for tillage in the farm after clearing a new land. That is, cultivator is the implement required for the next operation on the farm after clearing a virgin forest by the use of a bulldozer.

The advantages of the farm implement in farm operation include, efficient tillage, and good soil tilt. The disadvantage of the implement in farm operation include alteration of soil texture in the farm.

(iii) Tractor
Tractor is the farm machinery that is operated mechanically. It is the farm implement used in pulling other implements during farm operations. The minimum power required for a tractor to pull farm implements is known as drawbar power. Tractors usually have a compression engine which uses petrol fuel. The advantages of tractor as a farm machinery are that it can pull farm implement attached to it and also operate any implement attached to the three points linkage. There are different types of power in a tractor and these include indicated power, which is the actual power obtained from the chemical energy contained in the diesel fuel which is supplied to the engine.

(iv) Brake Power
Is the power obtained at the flywheel of the tractor and it is usually less than indicated power due to friction. Indicated power is the total of brake power and frictional power. Frictional power is the power used in moving the parts against friction in the tractor. A tractor has broad tyres at the rear end which help to maintain the high stability on the soil during farm operation. Mechanical efficiency of tractor is given by the relationship below:
Mechanical efficiency = Brake power/Indicated power x 100

Mechanical power is often less than 100% because of the power used to overcome friction. Engine efficiency is the measure of the performance of the tractor engine in the transformation of fuel energy into work energy. That is, chemical to mechanical energy. Engine efficiency is given by the relationship below. Indicated power/Heat content of fuel consumed.

(v) Harrow
Harrow is the most appropriate farm implement used in breaking up soil clod in the farm. It is efficiently used in the farm operation owing to the numerous concave blades which usually have sharp and hard surface. The number of blades attached to the connecting cylindrical rods is more in number compared with that of the plough. This is why harrow is used in primary tillage operation in the farm. The advantages of harrow as a farm implement include relative ease of loosening the soil, which leads to good soil tilt in the farm, it readily penetrates the soil particles during operation in the farm. The disadvantages of the implement are that it leads to destruction of soil structure. It may alter the soil porosity and expose the soil to excessive temperature, and may also result in reduction in the soil infiltration rate.

(vi) Plough
Plough is the farm implement that is required for the next operation on  the farm after the harrow might have been used in the farm operation. It is the most appropriate farm implement used in secondary tillage. That is, for proper loosening of soil particles. Plough has convex blades attached to the cylindrical rods. The advantages of plough in farm operation include: it enhances soil aeration, it promotes high absorption rate in the roots of plants. The disadvantages of the implement are that it leads to soil erosion, high water percolation in the soil, and exposure to water logging problem. It may also lead to high evaporation rate in the soil. There are two types of plough, namely mould and disc plough.

(vii) Ridger
This is the farm implement that is used in the making of ridges where seedlings are planted. It can be regulated to the desired diameter during farm operation to have the appropriate size with adjacent furrows.

(viii) Planter
Planter is the farm implement used in planting operation, it has accessories, which include the roller, a scraper, seed container and calibrator. Sprayer is the farm implement used in the farm for spraying chemicals such as fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, nematocide, etc.

(ix) Harvester
This is the farm implement used in harvesting of crops; combined harvester is usually used for harvesting cereals such as rice in the farm.

(x) Incubator
Is the farm implement used in the hatching of chicks. It has a temperature regulating device which ensures optimum temperature control. Refrigerator is used in the storage of farm produce.

(xi) Candler
This is the farm implement used in testing fertility of eggs prior to incubation operation in poultry production.

(xii) Dryer
This is the farm implement usually used for removing excess moisture from grains harvested from the farm, to enable the proper storage of the grains and this makes the grains moisture-free since the major problem of grain storage in rain forest zone of Nigerian is high humidity. Humidity is the amount of moisture in air.

(xiii) Water-Pump
This is the farm implement used in the irrigation of seedlings planted in the farms. It has the control device that regulates the rated of flow of water through the pipes.

(xiv) Shelter
This is the farm implement used in the removal of shells from nuts, such as kernel obtained from oil palm.

Methods of Maintaining Farm Machinery
The methods of maintaining farm machinery include:

(i)   Routine lubrication of movable parts of farm machinery.
(ii) Oiling or greasing of the metal surface.
(iii) Storing in dry place to avoid rusting of metal surface.
(iv) Regular cleaning after use, in the farm.
(v) Sharpening of the surfaces by using file.
(vi) Replacement of worn-out bolts and nuts.
(vii) Painting of the metal surface of farm implement.
(viii) Tightening of the nuts and bolts of the movable parts.

Problems of Mechanisation
Mechanisation which is the use of farm machinery in the farm, is hindered by the problem of land tenure. That is, mechanisation is difficult to practise where there is land fragmentation under land tenure system by inheritance. Capital outlay, personnel, storage facilities, transportation and extent of market are some of the problems associated with mechanisation practice. The major advantage of mechanisation is that it enables many farm operations to be carried out with ease, while the disadvantages of mechanisation are that it leads to destruction of soil and drudging of the implement during farm operations.

Sources of Power
The six sources of farm power used on the farm include; solar, wind, electricity, human, animal and machine.

Human Power
This is the source of farm power that is supplied by man. It is the main source of power on peasant farms.

Advantages

(i)   It is the most flexible source of farm power.
(ii) It is relatively adaptable to farm operations.
(iii) It is a cheap source of power.
(iv) It does not incur cost of accessories installation.
(v)   It depends on the individual power output.

Disadvantages

(i) It lacks regulatory device.
(ii) Its efficiency decreases with time.
(iii) It has slow time rate.
(iv) It is subject to stress.

Electricity Power
Electricity power is the source of power supply derived from the power station. It is the source of power supply to the farm that is often considered as unreliable source of farm power due to the continual power failure or outage associated with it, and this may disrupt farm operations when used.

Electricity can be used to carry out many farm operations within a short period when available for use. It is used in operating farm equipment such as milking machine, incubator and refrigerator.

Advantages

(i) It is the quickest source of farm power.
(ii) It is a noiseless source of power supply.
(iii) It is not difficult to use (i.e. easy to use).
(iv) It is often supplied from a distant power station.

Disadvantages

(i) It is an unreliable source of power supply.
(ii) It is expensive to install in the farm.
(iii) It is a complex source of farm power.
(iv) It requires high technical-know-how to generate the power from source.

Machine power
Machine power is a source of farm power derived from mechanically operated farm machinery. These machineries include farm implements operated through the use of tractor to pull the implement in the farm.

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Tractor pulling a Disc Plough in a farm

Advantages

(i)   It can be pulled to desired points in the farm.
(ii)  It is easily operated mechanically.
(iii) It requires little labour to operate it.
(iv) It can perform work more efficiently.
(v) There is timeliness on the use of machines.

Disadvantages

(i)   It is expensive to procure.
(ii) Movable parts of the implements are prone (liable) to depreciation.
(iii) It requires a lot of capital to maintain.
(iv) It requires the use of trained labour to operate it on the farm.
(v)   It leads to destruction of soil structure.
(vi) It is difficult to practice where there is land fragmentation.
(vii It leads to drudgery in operation.

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Animal Power

Animal power
Animal power is the source of power supply obtained from the use of draught animals for operation on the farm. Animal power is usually used on the farm for ploughing. That is, secondary tillage operation. Draught animal includes bullock, ox, etc.

Advantages

(i)    It involves the use of draught animals.
(ii)   It is a cheap source of power supply.
(iii) It adds to soil fertility on the farm.
(iv) It is simple to manipulate during operation in the farm.
(v) It can be replaced with ease.

Disadvantages

(i) Animal power depends on the age of the draught animal.
(ii) The efficiency decreases with time during operation on the farm.
(iii) It requires adequate maintenance.
(iv) It depends on the health of the animals.
(v) It is not a flexible source of farm power supply.

Wind Power
Wind power is a source of farm power supply derived from wind on the farm. Wind power is usually used on the farm for operating windmill, used in winnowing of rice during processing.

Advantages

(i)  It is a cheap source of farm power supply.
(ii) It operates rotary devices to blow mass of air.
(iii) It is cheap to use on the farm.
(iv) It is efficient on farm operation.

Disadvantages

(i) It is not flexible.
(ii) It depends on the intensity of wind.
(iii) It is the most unreliable source of farm power supply.
(iv) It is difficult to control the source of farm power supply.

Solar Power
Solar power is the source of farm power, which is obtained directly from the solar radiation when there is sunlight.

Advantages

(i) It is a cheap source of farm power supply.
(ii) It is easy to use on the farm.
(iii) It is not burdensome (laborious) to generate on the farm.
(iv) It is derived from the sun.
(v) It does not injure.

Disadvantages

(i)  It is not a flexible source of farm power supply.
(ii) It is an unreliable source of farm power supply.
(iii) It is difficult to control the intensity.
(iv) Excessive solar radiation may lead to low yields from the farm.

Farm machinery is the farm implements that are used on the farm to carry out appropriate operations on the farm. Farm machinery is used for the mechanisation practice on the farm. They are broadly divided into simple and complex farm machinery.

The six sources of farm power supply include, Human power, Machine power, Animal power, Wind power, Electricity power and Solar power. These various sources of farm power supply usually enable different farm machinery to be operated on the farm. These power sources facilitate the pace of agricultural production on the farm.

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