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Weeder and Cultivator

I. Background of the Project

In the January to March 2018 PSA report, agricultural value of production


grew by 1.47 percent which amounted to a gross value of PHP 444 billion,
8.94 percent higher than those of last year’s. Crops contributed to 53.76%
of the Philippines’ agricultural production by subsector, grossing PHP
252.2 billion as compared to PHP 211.4 billion in 2016 and PHP 233
billion in 2017 at current prices.

Sugarcane belongs to the Philippines’ major crops, together with palay,


corn, coconut, banana, pineapple, coffee, mango, and tobacco, to name a
few. It’s the fourth largest crop cultivated in 19 provinces around the
country. In the South East Asian Region for the recent years, Philippines
ranked second in terms of sugarcane export among the countries in the
region next to Thailand which is the top producing countries of sugarcane
crops and products. Sugar, bio-ethanol and power are the major focus of
this crop. In 2012, 75 percent out of the country’s 3.36 percent arable land
are between 0.01 and 5 ha. Only 14 percent accounts to land sizes of
more than 10 ha, which are considered big farms. Big farms are required
for sugarcane farming to be economical since inefficiency and low level of
productivity is inherent to small fragmented farms.

Between 2010 and 2014, the sugarcane volume of production grew by


around 1.4 percent from roughly 18 million metric tons (mt) to a little over
25 million mt. Although there was a 3.02 percent increase in the first
quarter of 2017 from the same period in 2016, it fell by 11.56 percent in
the same period in 2018 with a little over 11 million mt. Its per capita
production continued a downward trend in 2016 which estimates to 216.68
kg, remaining lower than the 2006 production records together with
coconut and coffee. Meanwhile, the gross earnings from sugarcane fell by
21.77 percent and its production reduces by 11.56 percent in the first
quarter of 2018. Reports indicate that lesser canes were harvested by the
harvesting delay in the latter of the quarter due to farm laborers scarcity in
Western Visayas and stunted growth of canes as a result of too much
rains during the last quarter of 2017 in Northern Mindanao.

In all production stages, the sugarcane industry is labor-intensive.


Optimum environment is essential to increase sugarcane yields. Altering
soil conditions is a difficulty as crops last several years. Such long lasting
productivity can be attained through ratooning. Large root systems
characterize the sugarcane. The soils conducive to its development are
those that allow these root systems, offering enough depth and soil
aeration without being too resistant to root penetration although sugarcane
is generally regarded as a highly tolerant plant. Stalks, produced from
nursery grown canes cut into pieces, are used in planting rather than
seeds.

The tasks required in taking care of the sugarcane field include irrigation,
drainage, weeding, burning and diseases. As area is irrigated, it grows
variety of weeds during the period. Weeding is necessary to ensure that
young shoots are exposed to much light and water needed and prevent
hosting of diseases and parasites. This is crucial during the first few
months after sowing in its germination and maturity period to establish a
height differential between cane plants and weeds. Cultivation can be an
economical means of suppressing weed growth although it is not
recommended if weeds are absent as this can encourage additional
weeds seeds germination. Cultivators must be able to cut through surface
debris and thoroughly mix the soil. Herbicides can be a useful economical
tool in sugarcane production and must be incorporated into an overall
management plan to obtain their maximum benefit as weeds tend to
become immune to same sets of it, resulting in higher concentration or
alternate use of herbicides for it to be further effective.

II. Objective
General:
Design an autonomous robot for sugarcane field weeding and land
cultivation.

Specific:
1. Determine current weed removal and land cultivation techniques
suitable to sugarcane fields.
2. Identify optimal depth and row distance for effective land cultivation.
3. Utilize technique(s) such as image processing to identify and classify
weed types related to sugarcane fields.
4. Integrate sensor(s) to classify the soil quality of the field for land
cultivation.
5. Integrate sensor(s) to detect the current position and surrounding
environment for autonomous operation.
6. Integrate renewable energy powered source(s) such as solar power for
continuous operation.
7. Design a control system and mechanism for removing the identified
weeds and cultivating the land.
8. Design a power management system for efficient power usage.
9. Design a modular robotic vehicle adaptable to various weather
condition and terrains in the sugarcane field.

III. Scope of Work


T.I.P. shall:
a. Determine the type of weeds to be removed from the field.
b. Design a working prototype for weeding and land cultivation.
c. Assign a faculty member/officer that will supervise and monitor the project
progress.
d. Coordinate with the industry liaison for necessary data gathering, field
testing, design evaluation and other feedbacks.
e. Set up meetings to report on and/or demonstrate the progress of the
project development.
f. Present and demonstrate the device.
g. Give trainings for the device’s operation, maintenance and basic
troubleshooting.
h. Apply for grant for the students, faculty members and officers involved in
this project.

S.R.A. shall:
a. Provide the various land cultivation methods/techniques appropriate for
sugar cane field.
b. Provide necessary input, samples, materials, equipment and space for
data gathering and prototype testing.
c. Assign an industry liaison, which shall coordinate with the consultant on
the progress of the project.
d. Check and evaluate the output project progress reports submitted by the
consultant.
e. Provide a venue, audio-video equipment, and other presentation materials
for meetings and discussions to be held at the SRA office.
f. Provide documents required for the approval of the grant.

IV. Outputs and Deliverables


The outputs of the engagement are the following:
1. Presentations
a. Oral Presentations
b. Device Demonstrations
2. Documentation
a. Device Manual
b. Progress Reports
3. Working Prototype
4. Final Device

V. Manpower Loading
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VI. Timeline
Activity Target Date(s) Duration
rd
Plant Visit and Orientation of T.I.P. 3 Week of June 2018 1 Week
Students to SRA
Information Gathering and Field 4th Week of June 2018 1 Week
Surveying
Design of Autonomous Weeder and 1st Week of July to 1st 10 Weeks
Land Cultivator Week of September 2018
Initial Presentation to SRA 2nd Week of September 1 Week
2018
Evaluation and Integration of SRA 3rd Week of September to 3 Weeks
Feedbacks 1st Week of October 2018
Second Presentation to SRA 2nd Week of October 2018 1 Week
Prototype Assembly, Test, and 3rd Week of October 2018 14 Weeks
Evaluation to 2nd Week of January
2019
Prototype Field Evaluation and 3rd Week of January to 1st 7 Weeks
Improvements/Modification Week of March 2019
Final Presentation to SRA 2nd Week of March 2019 1 Week
SRA Personnel Training for the 3rd to 4th Week of March 2 Weeks
Device operation, maintenance and 2019
basic troubleshooting.
Turnover of Documents and Project 4th Week of March 2019 1 Week
Close-out
Project Implementation 1st Week of April 2019 -

VII. Materials and Equipment


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