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Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Paddy harvesting - Natural style - or is Direct Threshing in the field possible?

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  • alansloan@tiscali.co.uk
    You re right to see the funny side, and wrong not to take it seriously. The cycle powered helicopter is a good example of the unintelligent and impractical
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 15 4:05 PM
      You're right to see the funny side, and wrong not to take it seriously.

      The cycle powered helicopter is a good example of the unintelligent and impractical mis-application of technology, but that does not mean that a direct threshing harvesting system would be inappropriate or impossible or unwise.

      Force is not always brute, brutes are not always forceful and sometimes they can to be guided by human intelligence to serve our needs. Larger muscles were always used in the past but probably more likely to climb trees to pick fruit and nuts than to harvest grains. Then, with modern agriculture they belonged to animals, and then coal and oil took over. Straight lines etc are a fallout from this process of industrialisation. Population globally seems to be growing to a point where we maybe need to consider using more human muscle power and less oil and animal, but whether Earth can support 9 billion people in tolerable conditions using hand harvesting alone is a moot point. We cannot intelligently turn away from trechnology, for we have become one thing with it.

      Your point about using the larger muscles and the potential loss of EROI efficiency is pure polemic, not proven either way at this stage, and you do seem unaware of the need to thresh the grain in a subsequent operation if the stalk is cut, even near the head as with the little knife which is a very elegant and efficient looking solution for gathering the clusters. I strongly suspect that a more sophisticated machinery MAY improve on the overall EROI of that simple device and (particularly including) its downstream operations.

      What is the threshing process after this material elaves the field??

      Spending a little more energy in the field may save a lot more downstream, and I also suspect there may be some more in leaving the whole straw to rot in the ground (as opposed to cutting it - ie keeping routes from soil to tip of plant for fungi and other decay processes open rather than interrupting them), so a cycle powered plucker could be designed to lay the old plant flat as it progresses. With a broad roller type track soil compaction would be far less than a human fooprint, then again, depending on the following crop or any interplanting it may be beter to stick with human footsteps or a mechanical mimic of them, yes.....you have point.

      I have no idea how difficult it is to get rice to drop from the husk,
      but I grew a few stalks of barley this year and it takes a LOT of
      effort compared to the simple cutting of the the stalk, be that at the base or near the head as illustrated in the Burma uplands.

      The threshing is where a technical trick of some kind is required. It may be a
      simple system like a stick and a threshing floor, a bullock, or a riduculously complex one like whizz-bang solar powered combined harvester and breadmaking machine which eats its own toast, but if grain is part of your diet,
      you need some level of technology.

      Grains are not large objects like fruit. The number of individual movements one would have to make to recover grains one at a time would make the process impossible, thoughthe idea is an important philosophical benchmark.
      The random nature of rice planting in a natural system is, (in contrast to your hoot about EROI), a sound point, and to complicate matters, I imagine that individual stalks vary in height too and individual grains also ripen at different times. From the photographs it seems that rice grains manifest in bunches? (More like oats than wheat, say)

      It is probably this spatial diversity that led to the pattern of cutting and removal for threshing elsewhere that seems to be universal. The very first grain gatherers must have used a direct threshing with their fingers, so I am proposing a return to that, I suppose.

      Bonfils type methods encourage tillering so the idea of focussing on a mechanism which is steerable to the individual cluster or bunch is good commonsense.

      Even at the time of animal motive power, and the scythe, it was much easier to develop cutting technologies than slower but better focussed and lower energy direct plucking. The variability in nature is certainly why agibusinesses spend millions developing varieties which are reliably uniform and equipment manufacturers produce sophisticated equipment designed to get stuff to grow in straight lines.

      We can both see the gross energy inefficiency of industrialised agriculture. But the answer to this is not to shun machinery altogether, but to develop technology which takes us in the direction we wish to go. Personally I think less time harvesting grain means more time for other things which are perhaps even more important - but that's a purely cultural consideration - it may be that others want or need a more direct relationship with the process. ?

      I have no idea how difficult it is to get rice to drop from the husk,
      but I grew a few stalks of barley this year and it takes a LOT of
      effort to recover the grain. This is where a machine of some kind is required. It may be a
      simple system like a stick and a threshing floor, or a whizz-bang
      nuclear powered combine harvester, but if grain is part of your diet,
      you need some level of technology appropriate to the scale and quality of your lifestyle.

      IF the point is to recover the grain, and leaving the straw in the field as a part of a natural system, then it makes sense to get straight to the point, either pulling the grain directly by hand or using some kind of tool to help detach the grain from it's chaff. The handheld knife is a briliant tool but it only delays the other half of the hard work, the threshing, till later.

      I just dont know how the rice comes from those sprays in the picture, but would some kind of comb combined with a spinning paddle be able to knock the grains direct onto a bag and shortcircuit the threshing stage? How would one do it in the field? Grasp, turn, hold over bucket, beat and catch? Or would the various stalk heights mean this is impossible?

      This implys a vertical system which will shake the grains out but collection would be complicated by the connection of the stalk to the soil.


      ----Original Message----

      From: camaspermaculture@...

      Date: 15/11/2009 21:22

      To: <fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com>

      Subj: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Paddy harvesting - Natural style

      How about a cycle powered helicopter so the wheels don't get stuck in

      the mud? LOL That way you could just fly over the field and never get

      your feet wet too. Maybe a bicycle where the wheels are completely

      behind the operator so the wheels don't run over the grain? Is there

      such a thing? Rice is planted randomly in a paddy, not in neat rows that

      you can drive down.

      Brute force, using the largest muscles in your body, harvesting grain

      would probably decrease the value of the enterprise. I know a number of

      peope that would like to replace machinery, animals, and fine motor

      movement combined with intelligence with something powered by a bicycle.

      This is often not an appropiate use of technology. The increased use of

      energy, when viewed as an investment, means that the return on the

      energy and financial investment (ROI) could, would probably, lower the

      overall value of the project.

      Sometimes the simplest things work best. Technology should only be used

      when there is a cost and energy efficient application that increases the


      Tom Gibson


      > So why not have a comb which slips under the grain and positions the

      grain to be threshed direct into a container, there and then, leaving

      > all the rest of the plant standing or lying in the field? Such an

      arrangement could be mounted on a cycle powered system allowing one

      > person to harvest sufficient for several more than achievable by hand.

      The relatively simple mechanism would make the system locally

      > sustainable.


      > Are there any cycle powered harvesters available anywhere? Nothing has

      turned up on a web search, though there are thousands more links

      > I didnt follow!

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      Fun games for all the family - http://www.tiscali.co.uk/play

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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