By: Azman Zakaria
Photo by: Noor Azreen Awang
SERDANG: A research team from University Putra Malaysia has successfully designed and fabricated a harvesting machine for the herbal plant, Misai Kucing, with a harvesting capacity of 24.89kg/hr, which is 30 times better than using a conventional harvesting machine.
The innovation of this harvesting machine for the delicate plant is given the name of ‘New Harvesting Machine for Agrivoltaic Herbal Crops Based on Reel-Wheel Rotating Mechanism’. It is unique due to its superb performance compared to the manual method. It offers energy efficiency by incorporating a reel-wheel-chain mechanism to rotate the reel without any motor assistance automatically.
Head of the research team, Ts. Dr. Mohd Salahuddin Mohd Basri, from the Department of Process and Food Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, UPM, said the harvesting machine is designed specifically to harvest herbal plants such as Misai Kucing in both open areas and under a photovoltaic (PV) panel, called the Agrivoltaic Crop.
He said the efficiency of the Misai Kucing harvesting machine is 93.53%, which is considered high, and it successfully meets the design requirement.
The performance efficiency of the Misai Kucing machine is measured by the weight of Misai Kucing harvested, and that entered the collection section, as well as Misai Kucing that are not harvested and collected.
He said the height of the machine could be adjusted by using a lynchpin, thus substituting the lathe to assist in adjusting the height of the harvester.
He said during the operation, the chains connecting the reel and wheel would be used to transmit power from a sprocket and shaft at the caster wheel to another shaft at the rotator. Chain is used in this transmission mechanism as the distance between shafts is less than 8 meters.
According to him, the harvesting process of shoots currently is done manually using regular hand cutters.
He said despite modern technology has been incorporated into the harvester, harvesting delicate plants such as tea leaves and medicinal plants using a harvester remains a challenge to farmers.
“For herbs with leaves and stems that branch off from the main stem, a right technique has to be applied to ensure new growth will take place. The cutting height also affects the growth of new crops. Thus, flexibility in adjusting the heights of the harvesting machine is one of the factors in designing the harvester,” he said.
He said the size of the harvester is also a factor to be taken into account for it to be used in small-scale farm fields or farms with limited space, such as under the photovoltaic panel system.
Thus, a smaller sized harvester is required to be designed to achieve an optimum harvesting outcome.
Ts. Dr. Mohd Salahuddin said the machine is comprised of a frame with wheels for movement on the ground, a collector slidably attached to the frame, a cutting blade mounted at one side of the collector, operated by an engine for cutting motion.
A reel is mounted to the collector and is positioned above the cutting blade for directing and feeding the crop to the cutting blade and pushing the crop into the collector.
He said using a reel-wheel-chain mechanism to substitute blower or fan will result in less energy required for the harvesting process.
He said the harvesting machine is suitable for farmers in small and medium industries because it is considerably cheap and easy to operate.
The research to develop the innovation started on February 1, 2019, and ended on September 1, 2019, and has been patented. It won the best project award at the Final Year Project Recognition Ceremony 2019. It also won the special “MTUN TVET International Innovation Award” and the silver medal at the international R&D exhibition and competition, Malaysia Technology Expo (MTE) 2021.
Other research team members are Prof. Ts. Dr. Rosnah Shamsudin, Ir. Dr. Mohammad Effendy Ya’acob and Muhamad Nurjafni Jamaludin. - UPM
Date of Input: 21/05/2021 | Updated: 21/05/2021 | hairul_nizam
43400 UPM Serdang
Selangor Darul Ehsan