Design and performance evaluation of PHilMech multi-row onion seeder: Ten-row model
Keywords:bulb onion, seedling establishment, onion seeder, field performance, direct seeding
There are several inefficiencies in the present direct seeding method of onion that are being practiced in the Philippines. This study aimed to address these inefficiencies by developing and evaluating a tractor-hitched mechanical seeder that could efficiently distribute and plant onion seeds and reduce production cost.
Machine development was done from 2013-2016 and laboratory and extensive field evaluations in farmers’ farms were carried out in 2016-2017. A 10-row, tractor-hitched and drill type onion seeder was developed which is capable of opening furrows, metering and delivering the seeds to the furrows, covering the seeds and firming the seedbed. The machine was evaluated in terms of its technical performance following the prescribed testing methods of PAES 123:2001. The seeder had a planting capacity of 0.41 ha/h and a field efficiency of 77.23% which was higher than the 60% field efficiency standard set by PAES for mechanical seeder. With a capacity of 0.41 ha/h, time and labor requirement for planting were significantly reduced with the use of 10-row onion seeder when compared to two-row onion seeder (0.21 ha/h, p<0.05) and manual broadcasting (0.35 ha/h, p<0.05). Percentage seedling survival 24 days after first irrigation was comparable to the farmers’ practice of manual broadcasting and using 2-row seeder. In areas using 2-row onion seeder, the use of 10-row onion seeder was found to substantially increase plant population which can potentially increase yield. For areas where manual broadcasting method is practiced, the 10-row onion seeder could significantly reduce the use of seeds from 7.68 to 4.94 kg/ha, thereby, reducing production cost. As a proof of its innovativeness, the application for patent of the machine has been accepted by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)-Philippines in 2017.
The study also identified and verified the factors that should be considered to operate the machine efficiently. The 10-row onion seeder has considerable potential to increase onion yield and reduce production cost. It is recommended that early promotion and extension of the technology could start and focus in onion areas where direct seeding method has already been practiced. A more extensive pilot testing of the technology is recommended not only to validate the financial benefits of using the technology but also to demonstrate and create awareness of the presence of an alternative technology.