Good news for those who own small-sized farmland! Sustainable farming means using resources within an agricultural setting without much external input needed, but it is inevitable to use small tractors to do many jobs such as plowing, weeding, seeding and harvesting. Tractors consume fuel, compact soil, cost a lot, and cause physical damage to the operator. Is there an alternative? Yes, there is!
It’s a challenging task for an organic farmer to work sustainably in all aspects of farming – try not working with fuel and energy-consuming machines while at the same time speeding up labor productivity. Not an easy feat. Good news has come in the form of a low- tech pedal-powered tractor is designed for tasks like cultivating, seeding, spraying, or pulling gears kind of low horsepower tasks on small farms.
Farm Hack, a community for farm innovation, it has introduced a prototype of a bike-like little tractor, called the Culticycle, which is being developed by Tim Cook of Green Tractor Farm. His design is favoured by farmers across Europe, who are interested in pedal power machinery.
“The math behind the idea is nothing more than observing that a lot of the work a tractor does – shallow cultivation, seeding, flame weeding – requires very little of its available horsepower; and since these jobs are best done between 3 and 5 mph, a bike can be geared down low enough that a human can produce the necessary horsepower.” – Culticycle.
According to their website, the materials for the Culticycle are rebar, unistrut, landscape rake tines and parts from bikes, an ATV, and a lawn tractor. They are trying to prove that human pedal power can do some of the jobs of small tractors, in cost-free way to the farmer and the environment. Culticycle can run in low speed of 3 – 4 mph depending on choice of gearing and pedalling speed. Check the below video for a further look at how farmers ‘cycle’ it on the field.
The first protype was released two years ago in an open modular hardware approach collaborative power of people and generated great resonance. Farm Hack says a new and more easily constructible version is coming soon. Let’s stay tuned!