Beat Labour woes - tools, techniques and mechanization

Hi Farming community,

    The more the educated are getting into the farming arena. the farming communites are moving out of this space, making it difficult to get the labourers. With our government’s policies they are okay to sit ideal than work at any of our farms. I have almost come to a point where I dont want to depend on any others than myself. I am just trying to understand what all automations we can incorporate in our farms to be independent of the labourers. some of the things that come to my mind are :-

  1. Have an auto pump controller. which would start the pump once the 3 phase power is provided.
  2. Have a sensor and based on the crop and the setting it should automatically turn on the valve to the area that needs water
  3. Have some sort of spraying mechanism that would do spraying to a larger area and can be handled by a single person or yourself.
  4. Have a mini tiller, auger for all your mundane tasks
  5. Have some sort of security camera to have an eye on the farm.
  6. The best part is to move towards the Natural farming route, thereby the farm takes care of itself and becomes self sufficient.

I know all these require money. but In the long run it works out economical. At the end of the day you are the boss of your destiny and not dependent on any other. put in your ideas, we can consolidate all these and create some sort of best practice for all our fellow educated farming communites.


Great topic that I was planning to initiate too. And good techniques you have listed - I think we should make a list as big as we can.

Since I had sown Maize this season, I have been thinking what could be done to minimize dependence on labour. While I would prefer to use labour where possible, as you said it becomes a big constraint often. I am going to post my thoughts and techniques I can think of.

All the farm machinery are very expensive as of now, there should be a way where these could be done with less expense.  I really fail to understand why should a mini tractor costs around 3 lakhs.

See , these people are trying to create cheaper alternative and simpler design.  At least for some of the activities we need to design some tools that we could use. 

How about creating some attachments for the power tiller for natural farming assistance.  Minimum attachment required are like

  • auger
  • no-till drill seeder
  • weed (/cover crop) crimper
  • harvester
  • transport attachment.

Check this for some idea … llage.html

We should be able to have simple design.  Any volunteers to try/collaborate?

Hi Hegde,

Since the power tiller attachments you have listed are already available in the market, is your intention to create similar ones in simpler DIY designs? If so, why not reverse engineer the ones in the market?

On a separate note, I get a feeling we just need to look at mechanized agriculture in other countries and simply adapt what works for us. It is interesting to note that in the village where my farm is, there is not a single tractor mounted seed drill attachment. Is there any reason not to use this?

I am pretty sure a tractor mounted seed drill plus a tractor mounted weeder are a good combo to cut labour dependency in any field crop.


Not sure, i have seen attachments for large tractors not for tillers and these are very expensive.  I am wondering there should be simple alternatives, isn’t it?.

Sure, we could do this, but even with the subsidy available for the farm equipment, its very expensive.  Imagine spending 5+ lakhs for tractor and using it for 20 days in year,  this does not work for me.    Those tractors you see in the city, mostly are bought in agri subsidy and put into use in cities for carry water etc, that is fine for those who use it to full extent.

There are some places (like some wing of BAIF) who have these machines for rent, but its rent is prohibitive and not available in all areas.

Most of the equipment s that i read about are doing one job perfectly fine, but then i can’t afford those many.  Many of us are having small farms and need simple alternative.  May be buying it as a community will work, not sure if people are open for this idea where i farm.

For not using the seed drill, I think people won’t use it until its proved working fine in that area.

As natural farming is against using certain type of  fuel, it would good at lest to minimize the use when i am tending towards it.  Suppose if we could have some attachments that would do multiple things at one pass it would be nice.

Now, i have the cover crop, when i want to go for the actual crop, i could have the tiller mounted attachments that can crimp the weed, lay it down or roll it, do the dibble or no-till drill and also cover it up all at one pass.

There are separate machines available for each of the above activity, but if it can be done in one pass why not. 

I can’t hire a big tractors as my land is uneven ( and i want it to remain as-is ),  now those having the tillers are not open to the idea where multiple things are attached for the tiller for commercial reasons.

May be like minded people could come together and design some simple alternative it would be great.  What’s your take?

Hi Chandra & hegdegg,

    Valid Views,  I aggree with Chandra’s reverse enginnering and hegdegg’s design for multi purpose implements. As Hegdegg states land preparation happens once in three months or so.  dont you think that there are many things that need attention on day to day basis, such as Irrigating, Manuring etc.  These are the best candidates to start our automation.

If there is any electronics engineer in our forum who can build a controller to turn on the water supply based on sensing the moisture or at a predetermined time interval in a cheapest possible way.


Hi Hegde, I saw a bunch of power tiller attachments in page 3 of this attachment: … tiller.pdf

Also, when using a tiller, do estimate the time needed to cover your whole land for an operation. If I remember correctly, using a tiller to plough would cover about an acre per day, which is too slow if you have something like 10-20 acres. I determined tiller will not work for me - for example, it is impossible to spend 40 days for 2 rounds of ploughing alone. On a separate note, the going rate for tractor hiring all inclusive is Rs. 500 per hour in my area - how much do you shell out?

I agree anything we collectively can do to innovate is beneficial to everyone and am all for it. Ideas on how to go ahead are welcome from everyone.

No till roller / crimper design plan (color and b/w)

Dear Members,

I enjoyed reading this thread. Today there is accute shortage of labour and per day wages is on the rise.The only way out is Mechanisation. Fodder harvesting,chaffing,baling is done by the tractor driver alone. In Kerala, years before you can see skilled labourers for plucking coconuts. But today Coconut climbing people are there but they use climbing machines!!. I was stunned to see  a group halting in a junction with climbing gadgets. For farming mechanisation is the key.



Recently I am in the process of planting UHDP mangoes on my farm in 17 acres and the requirement was for around 15000 holes. If I had used manual methods of digging, the cost was 50 rs per hole. I had bought a post-hole digger, which in y opinion is a great tool for doing these kinds of tasks and is pretty robust.

You can check out the pics at

I am also buying a wood chipper, which is quite amazing at chomping away at banches and leaves and turning out huge quantities of compostable material and mulch.  We also plan to use power saws, hedge trimmers, brushcutters, pole saws, etc. Chandra is right about seed drills. I had a chat about that with my manager and he told me, that a few years back, there was a demo about it in the villages, but since most of the farmholdings were small, there was not much acceptance of the drills. Here in the US and I guess in most other countries, there is a tremendous amount of mechanization, right from planting to harvesting. Since the acreage which is farmed here is in the thousands of acres, it makes sense for people either to rent out the drills/combines ( a couple of million dollars investment) or to buy them.


Hi Chandra,
I am not sure if any of the attachments given there will work for natural farming, i may be wrong.  Initially i was thinking i can use the marker to mark and also let the diancha seed be let flow into this mark, but direct broadcast worked out for now.  But, suppose i need to plant rice after crimping diancha, i do not think i can use any of those.  For that i may have to use reaper to cut the diancha, or use puddler to mix it up, and then use either tiller or plow and then use the seader to seed and each of this may need multiple passes.

Suppose you need to use it in your Jamun orchid, you could have cover crops done and mulched once in 3-4 months. isn’t it?.

I could not source the tractor, tillers are available at 200 per hour, but they do not have any attachment other than tiller.

For irrigation i think we can start with timer based control, i think even the once that we use in our sump will also do the job of simple start stop.  One of the farms that i visited earlier had this system where it controls multiple valves too, i was not much interested then in it so did not get details.

I wish you would hire it when not in use!  :stuck_out_tongue:

Very nice, Shiv. What HP tractor does the post-hole digger require and what does it cost?

I am all for sharing tools, since the activity which I have is taking a bit of time, I am not able to share as the schedule is already in place. But if needed, I can arrange for it to be borrowed afterwards

Currently this hole digger runs of a 35 hp tractor, but i have seen it work even off small tractors like 28hp ones.


Hi Shiv,
        Can you throw some light on how much this hole Auguar costed. and what is the running cost per hole?



Could you share some details about the chipper like price,vendor/make, maximum diameter of branches, fuel/tractor run etc

The running cost of the auger is around 200 rs per hour and we can do 60 holes, if no obstructions. Since we had an existing plantation and drilling between the trees, it took more time for navigation. Cost of the auger is 90000 and it was from shaktiman.
The blades do keep running out and need to be replaced.

The wood chipper is from Bhide and sons in nasik and it generates around 1 ton per hour and can chop branches upto 3 inches in dia. Cost is 75k.


Thanks for the info Shiv.Does it run on a tractor or can you run it on electricity?Do they have lower specs like 2" branches as a max?
PS: I checked on the net (they have a youtube video)they have a model with the specs I mentioned running on a 5 HP motor but price is not mentioned.

Hi anushafarms,

    That was a super wise decision you have taken. The economics prove that

No of holes : 15000
Labour / hole : Rs 50

With Manual labour option

Total Cost = 15000 * 50 = 7.5 lacs

With Hole Auguar option

Cost of implement : 90k (one time expenses)
Cost of Tractor : roughly about 6 lac (one time expenses, but can be used for multiple other things in cultivation)

No of holes per hour : 60
Running expenses per hour : 200

Total number of hours = 15000/60 = 250 hours
Total cost of digging holes : 250 hours * 200 = 50000

Total cost : 600000 + 90000 + 50000 = 7.4 lac

So net net going by the machine option you have achieved your requirement and got the tractor FREE :slight_smile: This is a very wise decision indeed. I wish we have some similar options for people with limited land.