2 Bicolano farmers develop mechanical weeder
Two Bicolano farmer leaders from barangay Cagmanaba, Ocampo, Camarines Sur have developed a mechanical weeder that will reduce labor cost by almost half, save on time and energy and aerate the soil while turning weeds back into the soil to decompose, thus, contribute to over-all rice production efficiency. Carlito Aquino, deputized Magsasaka Siyentista and president of a farmers organization together with Gil Pentrante, deputized Local Farmer Technician (LFT) worked together to develop the weeder. Penetrante who is a formally trained and skilled as a machinist designed the machine with inputs and ideas contributed by Aquino who is a former military man but is now a fulltime farmer and organic agriculture advocate and practitioner. The 4- row weeder is designed for the prescribed rice planting distance of 25 x 25 under the System of Rice Intensification or SRI scheme.
The design is similar to the cono weeder with an engine, curved handle and 4 cage wheels or rotator and four ( 4) balancers in front and two (2) at the back. The weeder is powered by a V50 hp motor from a discarded motorcycle which consumes 1 liter of gasoline per hour. It is mounted on top of the unit. It can churn the weeds in a hectare within 8 hours (crosswise). It requires a 3-man team to act as operator and help in the hauling or lifting of the machine as its makes a turn at the end of each rice row. The overall expense that a farmer will spend for labor and gasoline is P1,260.50 per hectare . Compared to the natural and manual weeding practice a farmer usually spends about P2,500 for ten persons per hectare. Thus a saving of about 50% will be realized by farmers when using this weeder. For the initial fabrication Aquino said they spent about P30,000 , with the bulk of the expenses going to the purchase of the second hand engine.
DA Bicol regional executive director Abelardo R. Bragas who himself is an agricultural engineer personally invited Mr. Aquino to the DA to conduct a demonstration of their invention. He suggested to use a single piston power engine to make it lighter and to reduce the fabrication cost. Bragas commended the farmer inventors for their inititiave and innovations and promised to support them to further refine, fine tune and have the weeder patented in their name. He said that the DA encourages farmers innovations and participation in the development of farm equipment and machineries and technologies to make them more appropriate to local conditions and for farmers to have the ownership for these innovations or inventions. He committed to have a palay shed constructed at the farm of Mr. Aquino where he and Mr. Penetrante can further work on and polish their invention. He also asked the research division, headed by Luz Marcelino to help the inventors in complying with the requirements in securing the patent for the invention and also directed the Engineering Division to extend the necessary technical assistance and the Information Division to help in the packaging and documentation of the invention.
Mr. Aquino will present their invention during the 1st National Congress on Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) on February 20 at the Manila Hotel. (Emily B. Bordado/ACS- DA RFO5)