Design Research: Pedal-Powered Tractors

When speaking about agriculture mechanisation, we immediately thing about huge tractors, pumping up oil and spreading loads of bad chemicals on the fields.
Some farmers have taken the problem the other way around, and instead of relying on heavy machinery for light operations, they started building their own machines, powered by humans, not petrol. I have listed the farm hackers I’ve found on this post.

If you drive a car, you’re dragging a lump of metal that probably weighs 10–20 times as much as you do wherever you go. What a waste of energy! Go by bike and the metal you have to move around with you is more like 6–9kg for a lightweight racing bike or 11–20kg for a mountain bike or tourer, which is a fraction of your own weight. Better efficiency means you can further on the same amount of fuel. According to the classic Bicycling Science book by David Gordon Wilson et al: “A racing bicyclist at 32km/h (20mph) could travel more than 574 kilometers per liter (1,350 miles per US gallon) if there were a liquid food with the energy content of gasoline.” Explain That Stuff

The Culticycle

Farmers from the Farmhack community have developed this pedal-powered tractor to reduce the usage of their tractors. It is built out of bike parts and standard metal pieces, and features a belly-mount for interchangeable cultivating implements (weeder, seeder, etc.)

The Culticycle, a pedal-powered tractor developed by Farmhack
The Culticycle, a pedal-powered tractor developed by Farmhack
Description: A pedal powered tractor for cultivation and seeding, built from readily available lawn tractor, ATV, and bicycle parts. Speed is 3 – 4 mph depending on choice of gearing and pedaling speed. Better for operator’s body, less soil compaction, no fuel use, cheaper than a tractor; easily adaptable to specific needs

Problem Statement/ Functional Need: Cultivation only requires the movement of small amounts of soil, therefore very little power output. Small tractors are hard on the body of the farmer, cause soil compaction, cost large amounts of money, are complicated to fix, and provide significantly more power than is needed for many seeding and cultivating jobs. Cultivation with a pedal powered machine provides sufficient power, a less physically damaging experience for the operator, and is more environmentally sustainable.

The Aggrozouk – previously known as Bicitractor

The Aggrozouk has been developed by the French-speaking collective of farmers l’Atelier Paysan, who develop tools for organic farming. The machine has been further developed during the POC21 eco innovation camp. They held a prototyping workshop in early 2016 so that the farmers could build their own Aggrozouk tractor while learning the skills to repair and upgrade it.

The Aggrozouk pedal-powered tractor with electrical assistance
The Aggrozouk pedal-powered tractor with electrical assistance

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