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This Innovator Can Make The Most Amazing Machines With Limited Resources

This Innovator Can Make The Most Amazing Machines With Limited Resources

Even as a kid, Gurmail Singh Dhonsi wanted to invent things. He discontinued his studies to learn the art of invention and joined a workshop. From repairing high quality tractors and military equipment to modifying bikes, he has managed to innovate many machines and even got patents for them. Read one man's story of passion for machines and where it took him.

Gurmail Singh Dhonsi, a fabricator cum mechanic par excellence, has developed a number of agricultural and heavy earth moving machines which have received national recognition. The Better India looks at how this innovator started his journey, developed amazing devices and reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan to be felicitated by the President himself!

Gurmail Singh Dhonsi’s father wanted him to study, but he was always interested in becoming a mechanic. So he was sent to different workshops in a nearby town, but those workshops did not meet his criteria of a “workshop”.

For him, a workshop meant a place with a lot of machines and repair work going on; not just scooter repairing,or watch repairing, welding etc. So finally he decided to work at a tractor repairing workshop at the young age of 13. Slowly, he learned the rules of trade and impressed his employer with his ingenuity. Later, he was joined by his father and they established their own workshop at Sri Karanpur before it was shifted to their present location at Ganganagar.

The talented inventor Gurnail Singh Dhoni.
The talented inventor Gurmail Singh Dhonsi.

Dhonsi’s tryst with innovation started in 1972, when he was able to repair the ‘genset’ (generator set) of a military vehicle which broke down while passing through the village. Later, he repaired a German tractor lying useless and in 1976, he modified a petrol bike to run on kerosene. Clearly, he was meant to fix things in a different way.

Agricultural Machine Repairs

Dhonsi often used to get threshers and harvesters for repairing. Farmers would  share their technical problems with him. During the years 1984-86, he was able to modify the then prevalent design suitable for wheat and similar crops to suit the mustard crop as well.

This was achieved by developing a reduction gear for reducing the speed of the threshing drum and by adding a blower/aspirator fan. Working further on this innovation, he developed a mini combine for harvesting and threshing wheat, soyabean, mustard, paddy, etc. and costing a mere Rs.70,000.

In 2000, he modified a thresher to make it suitable for feeding the crop, which resulted in reducing the load on tractors and facilitated storage of grains as well. The machine also had the provision of  re-feeding the unthreshed crops and blowing out the husk. He even developed a hydraulic power grabber to pick heavy loads and many other useful innovative machines.

Idea Germination and Visualization

All machine designs germinate in his mind as lucid designs which he is able to reproduce on paper. Then the task of converting those ideas into reality begins. Passionate about his work, he spends most of his time at his workshop in his native village.

The Rapid Compost Aerator

In October 2006, a farmer invited him to show how vermi-compost is made from cattle dung. He wanted Dhonsi to make a machine that can convert the fruit waste in his farm to compost.

Dhonsi observed how earthworms break down the waste by eating and excreting. He wanted to develop a machine that could simulate the work being done by the earthworms. In January 2007, working day and night for three  months, he finally came up with a machine which could pulverize a row of biomass of size 11 ft X 6.5 ft X 2.5 ft (total 400 tons) in an hour, and consume 3.5-4 litres of diesel per hour. The compost thus prepared has better fertility value as compared to farm yard manure and vermi-compost.

The device is a tractor driven machine, consisting of  a rotor shaft on which a number of straight blades made of carbon steel are fixed to cut and thoroughly mix the bio-waste.

compost aerator
Compost aretor invented by Dhonsi.

The technology for  mixing compost for rapid composting mechanically is available abroad, however no such domestic product was available until Dhonsi made this innovative machine. A patent (1717/DEL/2008) for this machine was filed by NIF-India in the name of Gurmail Singh.

The Tree Pruner

Suresh Jakhad, a farm owner from Firozpur, gave him an innovation challenge along with financial assistance of Rs.1,00,000 to develop a tree pruner. Due to shortage of manpower, regular pruning of tress had become a recurring problem for him. Dhonsi thought of using hydraulic power to drive the machine, but he was stuck while looking for ideas to optimally utilize the hydraulic system for developing the tree pruner.

The tree pruner finally developed by him is a device that can be mounted on any tractor of size 40 hp and above. Using this machine, trees up to 20ft high can be pruned by keeping blades in a vertical plane. The pruner is especially suitable for tress in big orchards and horticultural gardens. Top dressing can also be done on the trees up to a height of 12-15 ft by keeping the blades in a horizontal plane. About 200 plants on both sides of a 2,000 feet row can be pruned in an hour by expending just 3.5 liters of fuel.

For this innovation, NIF-India has filed a patent (662/DEL/2011) in Gurmail Singh Dhonsi’s name. By 2012, he had sold 2 such tree pruners at Rs. 4,50,000.

Way Forward

Dhonsi has received  recognition from the government, ministries and other local bodies. Recently,  he was part of the ‘Innovative Five’ who were invited to stay at the Rashtrapati Bhavan under the ‘Innovation scholars in residence’ scheme launched by President Pranab Mukherjee.

However, awards and accolades don’t seem to have distracted him as he continues to work and innovate relentlessly on his farm. You can check out his ingenious agricultural products at

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About the Author: Rahul Anand is interested in social innovation, enterprise and social impact. He is co-founder of Bloodaid

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