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Agricultural mechanization

Process for the elaboration and implementation of an AMS (click to enlarge)

Increased agricultural production is most often brought about by the introduction of improved crop varieties and by creating an optimal environment such that the plants and animals can develop to their full potential. Planting, tending and harvesting a crop requires both a significant amount of power and a suitable range of tools and equipment. Mechanization of farming has allowed an increase to the area that can be planted and has contributed towards increased yields, mainly due to the precision with which the crop husbandry tasks can be accomplished. In fact, most farmers in developing countries experience a greater annual expenditure on farm power inputs than on fertilizer, seeds or agrochemicals.

Crop production systems have evolved rapidly over the past century and have resulted in significantly increased yields. Unfortunately, on some occasions the production systems have created undesirable environmental side-effects amongst which soil degradation and erosion, pollution from chemical fertilizers and agrochemicals and a loss of bio-diversity are just a few of the examples that have been highlighted over recent years. Furthermore, not only were some crop production systems found to be unsustainable in an environmental sense, in some locations neither were they sustainable in an economic sense. Of equal concern was the observation that in some cases it was only the work undertaken by men that was mechanized. The tasks traditionally performed by women remained unchanged although the work demanded of them increased as the area planted and the yields increased.

It is against this background that the work in agricultural mechanization has focused on the following aspects:

  • all types of farm power (human, animal and mechanical) including the related social, economic and environmental dimensions;
  • standards for farm tools, machinery and equipment, together with codes of conduct for their safe use (implemented in close collaboration with the plant production and protection division);
  • technical, policy and strategy issues concerning mechanization;
  • alternative crop establishment technologies such as conservation agriculture.
Click to download the brochure on investment in agricultural mechanization in Africa

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