Development and evaluation of four-wheel tractor-attached multi-crop planter for mechanized seeding of maize in the Philippines
Keywords:custom-hiring, field efficiency, labor productivity, maize, multi-crop planter, seeding rate
The use of a multi-crop planter (MCP) attached to a compact 4-wheel tractor (4WT) is still not yet fully explored in the Philippines, despite the popularity of 4WT for land preparation in maize areas. A 4WT-attached MCP was developed for row seeding of rice, maize, and mungbean. This study evaluates the MCP adaptive model for maize in a field experiment and on-farm trials at two farmers’ fields during dry season. The MCP with seed metering plate having seven 12-mm diameter holes and 3-mm thickness had a seeding rate of 18.9 kg/ha which is within the targeted design range (15–20 kg/ha), a field capacity of 0.14 ha/h and field efficiency at 78% in well-tilled-clay soil under controlled condition. In farmer’s fields, the MCP delivered seeding rates within and higher (19.6 and 24.9 kg/ha) than the prescribed design range. In reduced-tilled-loamy soil, field capacities and efficiencies ranged from 0.24–0.26 ha/h and 53–72%, respectively. Grain yields of MCP did not differ with farmer’s practice, but the seeding rate was significantly reduced by 35–38%. Compared with farmer’s practice, labor productivity with MCP increased by 37–51%. Economic analysis showed that owning and custom-hiring an MCP is viable. Investment cost can be recovered after 3.6 years and the benefit-cost ratio at 1.5. This study underscore the potential benefit of using the MCP to improve the utilization of 4WT, increase the efficiency of planting maize in the Philippines, and reduce cost of production while maintaining grain yield.