Biomimetic tool design improves tillage efficiency, seedbed quality, and straw incorporation during rototilling in conservation farming

Submitted: 19 December 2021
Accepted: 26 May 2022
Published: 16 March 2023
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Rotary tillage facilitates conservation agriculture in rice-based crop farming systems through minimal soil disturbance for seedbed preparation and crop residue management. However, efficiency of rotary tiller blades is hampered by degraded paddy soils and excessive crop residue conditions. Biomimetics presents an edge in the optimisation design of cultivation tools and can be employed to improve the efficiency of rotary tiller blades. This study was designed to evaluate the adaptability and performance of biomimetic rotary tiller blades inspired by the geometric structure of a mole rat’s claw. Field experiments were conducted to evaluate the blades’ torque and power requirements, soil fragmentation, displacement characteristics, and the rate of straw incorporation at three tillage depths (i.e., 40, 70, and 100 mm). Results revealed that the biomimetic blades minimised torque by up to 21.05%, had lower specific power requirements, and produced finer tilths with granular and more even clod sizes than conventional blades. It also achieved more redistribution of topsoil and improved the straw burial rate. The biomimetic rotary tiller blades are thus energy-efficient and can improve soil structure and the quality of seedbeds, besides managing crop residues through incorporation, and therefore advance conservation tillage in intensive farming systems.



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How to Cite

Torotwa, I., Ding, Q. ., Awuah, E. . and He, R. . (2023) “Biomimetic tool design improves tillage efficiency, seedbed quality, and straw incorporation during rototilling in conservation farming”, Journal of Agricultural Engineering, 54(1). doi: 10.4081/jae.2023.1327.