Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have developed an efficient and cost-effective agricultural transportation system in collaboration with ‘Pothu Vivasayeegal Sangam, non-governmental organisation for farmers that addresses labour shortage, a major issue faced by Indian farmers.
According to an official statement, the transportation system, which is a lightweight monorail type, can economically carry agricultural produce from the fields to collection points near the farmlands. An IIT Madras team has successfully tested this prototype cableway system at a farm in Nanjai Thottakurichi village of Karur district in Tamil Nadu, the statement added.
The transportation system is developed by Shankar Krishnapillai, professor, department of mechanical engineering, IIT Madras.
“Indian farmers will face severe shortage of labour in the coming years, especially in post-harvest operations. The simple agricultural transportation system is made in local workshops, from locally available components, based on the lightweight overhead rail concept. It can be easily installed on Indian farms and reduce labour requirements in transporting the produce. The system has also minimal environmental disturbance as it passes over the ground,” Krishnapillai said.
Further, explaining how the transportation system can be scaled to farms across the country, Krishnapillai, said that the proposed agricultural system is based on the very simple design concept and components, and easy to be implemented in any local farm. “Additional rails and posts can be easily added and the range can be scaled up to over a kilometre. Also in future, the trolleys can be powered by a battery power pack charged by solar energy,” he said.
An IIT Madras team, led by Krishnapillai, jointly with the NGO, conducted continuous trials covering a distance of about 200 metres for several months from July 2020 with five loaded trolleys. Two people were required to operate the system, one at either end of the transportation system. The trials showed that they were able to successfully transport agricultural loads in a consistent and reliable manner. The components of the cableway can be manufactured at local workshops, making this system fully indigenous.