Hydraulic Tractor Loaders for Agriculture & Soil Digging

What began as a simple project to help farmers was nominated for the the Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology Student Project Scheme by the Directorate of Technical Education, Chennai, with funds worth `3,75,000 being offered for it. Final-year Electronics and Communication Engineering students of Mailam Engineering College, Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, V Premnath, I Vetrivel, VK Arun and K Sivaraman, developed a Remote Control-based Solar Ploughing Machine. Their project bagged the third prize at a national-level contest organised by Sri Manakula Vinayagar Engineering College, Puducherry, out of 225 shortlisted projects. Their idea also won the first prize at a similar competition organised by the Agni College of Engineering Technology, Chennai.

The students have designed this vehicle to reduce the cost of cultivation and encourage farmers to use cost-effective and smart mechanisms. “It will be difficult to keep charging such a vehicle (a battery- operated vehicle). So we decided to concentrate on water, wind or solar energy. The easiest was solar energy as the tractor will be on the field itself, when the battery is charged,” says Arun.

Theirs is a three-wheel mini tractor, which can be fitted with cameras and can be controlled through a remote within a 15-metre distance. The machine can run for two hours on one battery and has the option to add more batteries. It can cover a distance of 4.1 km and has a 2.4 GHz transmitter. The students say that operating this vehicle will not be difficult and is user friendly as “sensors are fixed on the front wheel of the machine using which the machine manoeuvres itself around stones and other obstacles on the field.”

The students had filed nominations for the Inclusive Innovation 2014 scheme sponsored by AICTE, the Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC) Inclusive Innovation Awards, 2014, and the Texas Instruments Contest 2014. “We have approached the Horticulture Officer, Department of Horticulture and Plantation Crops, Villupuram District, to start this on a small level. We are hoping to see our plans bear fruit soon,” say the young innovators.

Their original prototype cost around `2,880 including cost of basic components, batteries and solar panels, hardware and circuit. A new prototype is also in the pipeline. “This will cost around `17,500 as we are putting in new motors and advanced batteries, a bigger acrylic board and a microcontroller board,” says M Rajapartheban, Assistant Professor and Research Coordinator, Department of ECE, Mailam Engineering College, who guided the students on the project.