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Machine mastery

Nearly 50 two-wheel tractor operators in Bangladesh examined, adjusted, and tested several planting machines during in a four-day practical training course at the Wheat Research Center (WRC), Dinajpur. The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), and CIMMYT organized the course, which ran during 12-15 October 2009 and focused not only on the operation, repair, and maintenance of farm machinery, but also on different crop establishment techniques.

Course leaders divided participants into groups of four and gave each a Sayre Smart Planter (SSP), a farming implement with built-in seed dispensers for multiple crops and a fertilizer application mechanism. The small group size allowed each person to practice converting the machine into its various modes: bed planter, strip tillage seeder, minimum tillage seeder, and zero tillage seeder. All participants then operated the machine in its numerous settings and learned seed calibration techniques for crops such as rice, wheat, jute, lentil, and chickpea. To ensure full understanding of SSP mechanics, each group dismantled the seeder, indentified its various parts, and then reassembled it.

On-hand to provide assistance were Enamul Haque, CIMMYT cropping systems agronomist; Israil Hossain of BARI; and Abdur Rahman, AKM Saiful Islam, and Bidhan Chandra Nath of BRRI. The Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development Cooperation (BMZ), and USAID Famine Fund Projects funded the course.