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Fertilizer Pellet Applicator
  • Is there any work being done around a fertilizer pellet applicator or rice farming? I know there is a pelletizer and seeder in the suite of 50 machine, but I haven't seen much in the way of fertilizer (organic or synthetic) application, or rice farming in general. 
    The reason I ask is because I'm working on a Fertilizer Deep Placement (FDP) pellet applicator for subsistence rice farmers in Cambodia. The project was started in a class at the Stanford design school (Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability) and my team was working in collaboration with International Development Enterprises - Cambodia. 
    If anyone know's anything or anyone involved in appropriate technology related to rice farming or fertilizer application, please let me know! I'd  be happy to share photos and CAD files of the current prototype. We're aiming for a low-cost (<$50 retail) device that one person could operate to accurate dress a one  hectare field in less than a day's work. Accurate depth and spacing of the pellets in the mud/rice paddy is crucial, and can boost yields by 25% compared to conventional broadcast fertilizer and can double yield when compared to no fertilizer at all. On top of that it's much more cost effective and environmental friendly than conventional broadcast fertilizer because far less fertilizer is lost to runoff or evaporation. 
    Any and all feedback is appreciated!Will (

  • 5 Comments sorted by
  • @RiceRunner, If you have stuff made and opensourced, then please wiki it.  I can guarantee people will be interested.
  • There are farming techniques that don't require fertilization like that. I can't help but wonder if the need to do so indicates that it is possibly being done wrong.
  • You're definitely right that there are farming techniques that do not require fertilization. Unfortunately for many rice farmers in Cambodia, this is not the case. Cambodia has the poorest soil quality in all of south east asia, and rice is their staple crop.  The current method of fertilization that most Cambodian farmers are using to make a living is incredibly inefficient and harmful to the environment compared to properly used Fertilizer Deep Placement.

    Currently, farmers broadcast granulated fertilizer, Urea for example, just as we would on our own lawns. The key difference is that they're broadcasting fertilizer into flooded rice paddies. 2/3 of the fertilizer on average is lost to runoff or evaporation. The first is a major cause of eutrophication of waterways, the second is bad from an a climate change perspective as N02 has 280x the global warming potential of C02. 

    The fertilizer pellets are buried in the mud, so far less is lost, more reaches the rice plants' roots, and farmers earn more income. The trouble is that it's back breaking labor (i.e. 36 man-hours to fertilize one hectare) when using FDP properly because it requires bending over and sticking a pellet in the mud a uniform grid (~16"x16") throughout the entire field. 

    Insight we've gained from speaking with Cambodian farmers indicates that they would adopt proper FDP techniques if the application time and hardship was decreased. 

    I'll try to pull together some of the engineering drawings and post them here. 

  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    September 2011
    be like the chinese(??) use humanure on the soil
  • Right on DavidIam. Surely one of the goals of Factor E Farm is to have communities ready for the Collapse (Jared Diamond), Peak Oil, Financial Crises etc. As a Certified Organic/Biodynamic food producer, teacher, mentor, consultant I suggest no Petro-chemical fertilisers nor spreader. Old fashioned manure spreaders with a cowlings (metal sheets forming a funnel) are used to make compost windrows and later with cowling open compost is spread over the field before bed forming and transplanting seedlings. Our grand fathers used liquid manure/herb teas to feed the soil, lately 'compost teas' are the fashion. Weeds are by definition a plant in the wrong spot. We call them correctly: herbage. Ley farming of old had fertile pastures and animals. Live Stock medicate themselves on herbs in the Ley Fields. Herbage grows indicating the elements they are creating of which the soil is missing. Read Pfeiffer: what weeds tell us + soil fertility. What is needed is tanks (no plastic) to brew the liquid teas and then irrigate it out with a small Travelling Irrigator / Manurator onto the Green Manure Crop. This is then ploughed in to feed the soil biology before planting.
    Secondly we use old fashioned seeders and fertiliser spreader to drop compost in the 'drill' before the seed drops in. 
    RiceRunner fabulous applicator with small adjustment could do solids and or liquid. Yes there is a need for this. 
    Spike! Man, the manure from western people is full of food preservatives, pharma drugs!!!! Oestrogen mimicking compounds abound in Nature. The Florida alligator cannot mate because of this issue. In Italy the rivers are full of compounds from the "Pill", urination and or flushed do the lavatory.Organic Certified food standards disallows Humanure.

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