Lesson 9. Mulch seeder, Paddy Straw Chopper-cum-Loader

9.1. Introduction

Straw mulch reduces the amount of radiation reaching and leaving the soil surface, and therefore reduces the maximum soil temperature and increases the minimum temperature. Straw mulch also lowers soil evaporation leading to higher soil water content and/or crop water use. The magnitude of the reduction in evaporation depends on the straw load, soil water content and evaporative demand. Efforts are being used to develop simple machines capable of seeding under loose residue conditions after combine harvesting to use straw as mulch to conserve soil organic carbon and reduce pollution. The machines developed for seeding under loose conditions (mulch seeding) are detailed below.

9.2. Double disc coulters

It has double disc coulters in place of tines to place the seed and fertilizer in to the loose residues. Being light weight the seed and fertilizer are dropped on top of loose residues, part of which reach the soil surface. Irrigation is required immediately after seeding to facilitate germination. This machine works up to a load of about 4-5 t/ha.


9.3. Happy Seeder

Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana in association with Australia has successfully developed Happy Seeder machines which facilitate sowing of wheat in the standing paddy stubble, while retaining the straw as surface mulch. Happy seeder is compact and lightweight and is tractor mounted. It consists of two separate units a straw management unit and a sowing unit. The straw management unit comprised a forage harvester with modified chute that would cut, lift and throw the standing stubble and loose straw. This was backed by a no-till seed drill with inverted T type furrow openers (the sowing unit), which followed the straw management unit and conducted the sowing activity concurrently.


9.4. Combo Happy Seeder

To overcome the problems of poor maneuverability and visibility the seeding unit of happy seeder, the straw management and sowing units were combined into a single compact unit that could be lifted on the three-point linkage of a 45hp tractor. The machine has the same sowing configuration as the standard zero-till drill with 9 rows inverted T-tynes spaced 20 cm apart. This reduces the straw load on the germinating wheat seeds and power requirement of the tractor. The “Combo Happy Seeder” unit includes strip tillage in front of the inverted T-tynes to improve establishment and was tested and found that considerable dust generation and difficulty in lining up adjacent sowing passes accurately. The sown rows were difficult to see, especially with partial cutting of standing straw.


9.5. Turbo Happy Seeder

Turbo Happy Seeder has no chute that greatly reduces the amount of dust. Instead, the straw is chopped finely with the inclusion of fixed blades on the inside of the rotor volute and concave rotor blades in front of the improved design inverted-T sowing tynes. All the furrow openers (tynes) are now on the same bar and are curved so that there is only a very small clearance (15 mm) between the rotating flails and tynes, which are swept clean twice with every revolution of the rotor and the straw is fed between the tynes. As a result, the sowing lines are now more exposed, and visible. The rotor speed is only marginally higher than in Combo Happy Seeder (1300- 1500 rpm). Moreover, the Turbo Seeder does not have a strip-till mechanism and the tynes are on a single toolbar.

9.6. Rotary disc drill

This machine is based on the rotary-till mechanism. The rotor is a horizontal transverse shaft having six to nine flanges fitted with straight discs for a cutting effect similar to that of the wooden saw while rotating at 220 rpm. The rotary disc drill is mounted on a three point linkage system and is powered through the power take off shaft of the tractor. The rotating discs cut the residue and simultaneously make a narrow slit into the soil to facilitate placement of seed and fertilizer. The machine can be used for seeding under conditions of loose residues as well as anchored and residue free conditions.

If the machine is to be used under loose residue conditions, it is better to use an offset double disc assembly for placement of seed and fertilizer. Otherwise an inverted T-type or chisel type opener can be used. The rotary disc drill can also be easily converted in to a rotary till drill by replacing the discs with L- shaped or J shaped blades on the rotor. The rotor completely pulverizes the soil leading to a clean and fine tilth. Direct seeded rice using a rotary disc drill was successfully established in 6 t/ha of loose residues.


9.7. Flail mower cum loader

Flail mower cum loader is driven by a minimum 50 HP tractor. It has a pick-up swath width of about 150 cm. Straw recovery rate with this machine is about 1 to 1.50 tonne per hour depending on crop and swath. The machine has option of blowing back the straw into fields for sun drying. The machine can work on almost all types of biomass. Also an added advantage of this machine is the inbuilt chopper which is useful if the recovered biomass is used for silage or hay making.

About 10 tonnes of straw can be picked up in one day with this mower in loose form. In a year (say 50 days harvesting period) one flail mower can secure about 500 tonnes of straw. Mechanisms used in the machine and its operation are very simple. Therefore, low skill level worker and operator can run this type of straw recovery set. This type of operation may be popularised among the farmers through farmers’ cooperatives, federations and service providing organizations, who could provide such services to farmers at nominal costs.


9.8. Flail type chopper cum loader for paddy straw

Flail type chopper cum loader for paddy straw cuts straw from bottom, collects straw and loads into trailer. The width of the machine is 1.5m and power requirement is 35 hp. Flail type chopper cum loader were found to have application in effective management of cotton stalks. Field capacity of flail type chopper cum loader varied from 0.25 to 0.35 ha/h.




  1. DARE/ICAR Annual Report 2003–2004- Agricultural Engineering and Technology
  2. TMC MM-I Annual Report 2009-10
  3. Singh, M, Blackwell, H.S. Sidhu and Y. Singh. 2011. Development of Happy Seeder for Direct Drilling of Wheat into Combine-harvested Rice Fields, Conservation Agriculture Getting Agriculture to Work for People and the Environment newsletter, 17: 1-3
  4. Sidhu, B.S., V.Beri. 2008. Rice residue management: Farmer’s perspective, Indian Journal of air Pollution Control, Vol. 8(1): 61-67
  5. Sidhu, H.S. 2008. Happy seeder – An effort for Rice residues management, Indian Journal of air Pollution Control, Vol. 8(1): 68-75
Last modified: Monday, 28 April 2014, 12:00 PM