The coastal region of South Canara in Kartnataka’s Mangalore district is known for its progressive growth in literacy, equality, and employment rates. However, a major stronghold of the area’s survival, which is agriculture, has seen a steady decline over the years.
While the cause for this remains natural factors like soil fertility and a dearth of manpower, the people of this region still experiment with unconventional methods to meet the challenges.
This article is a spotlight on one such innovation.
The Seedographer, a multi-purpose seeder and plougher, is a machine that has been perfected over the years to meet the unique daily needs of a farmer.
This idea was born to a young Rakesh Krishna K in 2015. Since then, this child prodigy has created several models of the machine that aid in systematic sowing of seeds, ploughing of land, irrigation and an increased output.
“My father is a farmer and mother is a college professor. Being associated with agriculture since childhood, I started to understand the problems of farmers at a young age. We have an old drum seeder in our house, but it was hardly effective as it was not designed according to the needs of the farmers. That’s why I decided to make a machine for farmers that would cater to a variety of agricultural needs,” Rakesh told The Better India.
Aiding the Average Farmer
At the age of 11, Rakesh would see his father and other farmers struggle with the tasks of ploughing and sowing, as each task would have to be undertaken by hand. Availability of labour was low, and the prices of mechanical aid were high.
Sowing would take up to two to three days for one hectare of land, while ploughing would require excessive physical labour. Moreover, throwing the seeds across the land by hand meant that only a few of them would end up germinating.
“I realised that farmers needed a machine that would undertake sowing systematically and reduce effort. Also, it had to be affordable so that more and more farmers could use it. With this thought in mind, I started my project,” he says.
His innovation primarily works on a drum wheel which has holes at equal distances. Attached to the axle of the vehicle, this drum is conical with a narrower width on the outside to ensure that even the last of the seeds ends up being dispersed. The equidistant holes ensure sowing across the land. This mechanism is complemented by a plate at the back, which covers each seed with soil as the machine moves forward.
Rakesh’s father, Ravi Shankar says, “I use the machine on my land to plough the field. I can adjust the holes by opening and closing them, which gives me the desired sowing distance between each seed. Moreover, the soil covering ensures that the seeds are not taken away by wind erosion or hungry birds. The drum can also be filled with water for the purpose of irrigation.”
Ravi Shankar also explained that due to the seeds receiving proper nutrition, his output has increased by 20 per cent and water consumption has reduced by 40 per cent.
Bettering the model
Today, Rakesh is pursuing his second year at the PU College of Mangalore. However, perfecting the machine aid sees no complacency on his part.
Finding inspiration in the way his sister worked on her biology projects, he had decided to take the path of developing mechanical solutions to real life problems of his society. This innovation was meant to assist in sowing seeds of crops like paddy, ragi, jowar, and gram.
“I have created many models of the Seedographer ever since. Their prices range from Rs 5,000 to Rs 12,000, depending on the technology. But I want to make it even more advanced so that alongside tasks like transplanting and plowing, farmers can also check the quality of the soil with it. My aim remains to keep innovating this machine as per the needs of the farmers. So to experiment with it I keep meeting farmers from different areas to understand what else is missing in it,” Rakesh said.
Each challenge helps the youngster to come up with a creative solution. For instance, the earlier models consisted of a cylindrical drum, which would hoard the seeds left at the bottom and generate more waste. To solve this, Rakesh introduced the conical drum.
According to his father, he is currently working on an automatic version of the model that may be powered by solar energy.
Reaching the markets
The handy innovation has already come to the knowledge of India’s top leaders. Rakesh revealed that the Seedographer bagged him the Prime Minister’s National Bal Shakti Award this year. In 2017, he presented the invention to former President Pranab Mukherjee, at Rashtrapati Bhavan during the National Innovation Festival.
Rakesh was also selected for the SAKURA International Science Exchange Program in April 2020 for his invention, but the event was postponed due to the pandemic.
This young innovator’s device seems to be the beginning of a brighter future for the farmers of our country.
Read this article in Hindi here.
Edited by Yoshita Rao