Field ploughing performance evaluation of the Mulimi multi-purpose vehicle
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In 2015, a Mulimi Multi-purpose vehicle (MMPV) was developed by the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE) at Makerere University in partnership with the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University to mechanize smallholder farms. Success was recorded, however technical and performance information was not documented to guide decision making to enhance the technology adoption. This study evaluated ploughing performance of MMPV to analyze ploughing depth and width, fuel consumption and ploughing field capacity in sandy clay and sandy clay loam soil types. Mechanical analysis was based on the hydrometer method, the USDA soil particle classification standard scheme and soil textual triangle were used to textually classify soil. The MMPV hitched with a disc plough was operated through 5 plots each measuring 50 m by 5 m separated by 2.5 m with a 5 m headland in each soil type. Using a tape measure ploughing furrow depth attained by MMPV (n = 5) averaged at 98.5 mm (s = 9.6) in sandy clay and 136.8 mm (s = 23.6) in sandy clay loam soil, and was significantly different (P < 0.05). The MMPV ploughing width (n = 5) in sandy clay averaged at 706 mm (s = 3.5) while in sandy clay loam was 609 mm (s = 1.9). Mulimi multi-purpose vehicle finished one (1) ha in 49.4 hours with actual field capacity of 0.02 ha/h in both soil types. It was also noted that more than 90% of total time was idle time spent at headlands and during inevitable plough setting adjustments. Mulimi multi-purpose vehicle fuel consumption averaged at 16.3 l/ha in sandy clay and 8.9 l/ha in sandy clay loam. These results indicated adequate ploughing performance values required by smallholder farming, thus availing an opportunity of adequately mechanizing ploughing operation and making informed decisions.