|Intensive Vegetable Gardening for Profit and Self-Sufficiency (Peace Corps, 1978, 158 p.)|
|Chapter five: soil preparation for intensive gardening|
|Mechanization and land preparation for the small farmer|
Power hand tractors are very efficient when used with a row crop production scheme. The greatest role of the hand tractor in crops which are planted in rows is for cultivation. Rows of crops can be spaced to permit the hand tractor to be used to cultivate between the crops for the entire length of the rows. This greatly reduces the time and labour required for clean cultivation of row crops. These hand tractors can also be fitted with a furrowing attachment for placement of fertilizers, seeds or plants.
The hand tractor is very useful to turn under crop residue, especially in row crops where one row at a time can be worked. Legumes, green manure crops and other residue can be easily chopped into the earth at the peak of their vegetative growth so they quickly decompose into the fertility cycle of the soil. It can be said that proper use of this type of power hand tractor can increase and build the fertility and structure of soil.
Figure 5.6 HAND TRACTORS IN USE
In fairly level areas, these hand tractors can be used to pull small loads of up to 200 and 300 pounds. The loads are pulled on two-wheeled carts (bicycle or motorcycle wheels) behind the tractor.
Some manufacturers of the hand tractors provide several useful attachments. These attachments include electric generators, irrigation pumps, and 40-inch sickle bar mowers. The electric generator demonstrates the utility of small machines as it will allow some other power tools to be used in the fields. The sickle bar mower allows steeper slopes to be mowed and utilized for hay or mulch production. The mobility of these machines allows hard-to-get-at plots to be reached and worked effectively. Some uses of the hand tractor are shown in Figure 5.6.
Machines and implements of this type provide the small farmer with a means of farm power suited to his farm size and income. The use and care of small machinery is definitely a skill that should be developed by all professional small farmers.