The hand/foot planter is designed to be used by women practicing Conservation Agriculture and is able to plant maize seed and precise quantities of fertilizer through surface mulch in all soil types and conditions. The design of the tool uses body weight via a foot operated pedal, to supply the energy needed to create two slots through the surface in a gradual manner, combined with a backward and forward rocking motion. Precise quantities of seed and fertilizer are dropped by hand, they fall down within two tubes into slots created by the spears and then remain close to each other but not in contact with the seed for maximum utilization. This development was initiated by observing the poor performance of other CA planting tools costing about US$80. The tool requires two persons for operation and the energy required is gradually applied through the body weight and a rocking motion. The precision of its results is unmatched as the fertilizer placement requires about half the normal recommended quantities to be used giving considerable economic saving. It can be fabricated by informal sector metal working artisans using locally available raw materials and costs about 15 USD.
Crop yields are diminishing in Sub Saharan Africa through excessive cultivation and reduced soil organic matter amongst other reasons. Conservation Agriculture techniques have been shown to be able to reverse this trend by minimizing soil disturbance, maintaining a soil surface of organic matter and crop rotation. Planting seed and fertilizer through this organic layer is a challenge at the small scale farm level and the hand/foot planter has been designed to be able to overcome that challenge and be used by women farmers. Furthermore, it has been found that when a precise amount of fertilizer is placed close to the seed the quantity needed to obtain a good yield is considerably less than that recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture and national/international research organizations. This results into a extra yield at lower input cost and justifies the investment into the tool which can be manufactured at the local level by artisans.
If locally produced the prize of the hand/foot planter costs 15 USD and is affordable for most people. The reduced need for fertilizer quickly amortizes the investment into the planter.
Stage of development: ready for serial production
- Enables people to engange on Conservation Agriculture
- Increases crop production (especially maize) at affordable cost and reduced energy
- Creates rural employment in production