|Inventive mind: Lương Minh Đồng from the central province of Quảng Nam checks his multi-functional ploughing machine before heading to the field. - Photo quangnam.gov.vn|
Lương Minh Đồng of the central Quảng Nam province has reduced his work load by inventing a more effective, multi-functional plough using old machinery parts.
At midday, Lương Minh Đồng from the central province of Quảng Nam looks back at his field, enjoying a sense of achievement, and comes home for lunch, completely at ease.
Every day, he goes to the farm early in the morning and works there until midday. Thanks to the multi-functional mechanical plough he invented, he can work on a 500sq.m patch of land himself, without needing the assistance of five co-workers as he once did.
For farmers, the mechanical plough is a godsend. It has no engine, weighs some 5kg and looks simple. “It’s just like bringing a hoe to the field,” Đồng said.
Born in 1956 to a family of poor farmers, his ancestral property is a 2,500sq.m-wide field that requires four people to carefully plough and rake it. The family could not afford to buy a buffalo to pull the plough, so they had to work hard doing it themselves every day.
Đồng began considering a prototype for a multi-functional plough in 1983. After many days of brainstorming, he tried to make a mechanical plough using old materials he found at home.
The first version of the mechanical plough utilised a broken bicycle for the body and an exploded bomb shell for the ploughshare. Like many other Vietnamese farmers at the time, he took full advantage of artefacts from the war that lay scattered around.
The rudimentary plough helped him work more efficiently. Holding the handlebars, he thrust the machine forward. As the bicycle’s wheel rolled forward, it pulled the ploughshare, which turned the soil.
He found success with his first mechanical plough in 1986 after many failed experiments.
“I picked up some tricks in mechanics when I worked at the communal co-operative,” he said.
“When I managed to get it right on paper, I still faced many obstacles because the new plough I had made didn’t work as I had intended. However, I wasn’t discouraged. I tried again many times until I achieved success.”
Đồng’s neighbours soon realised that the plough worked more efficiently than a buffalo or human strength. They asked Đồng to make ploughs for them too.
When the ploughs were finished and delivered to the local farmers, Đồng faced more obstacles as the ploughshare failed to work well on hard soil.
He continued researching the problem and replaced the ploughshare he had closely welded to the bicycle with a different one.
The replaceable ploughshare in Đồng’s second version worked effectively on different kinds of soil. Farmers could now change the ploughshare according to the condition of the soil.
As time passed, Đồng added new functions to his machine. He added a tool to make furrows and another to create a track for seeds. He plans to upgrade the machine by adding a box that will scatter seeds automatically with each movement. The box design will allow farmers to adjust the space between the seeds because each plant needs to be grown at different distances from each other.
“So with this functional plough, one farmer can break the soil, make furrows and scatter seeds in the tracks simultaneously,” he said with joy.
So far, he has produced thousands of ploughs for farmers in neighbouring provinces.
Phan Văn Chín, head of the communal Union of Farmers, can’t contain his pride when talking about farmer Đồng.
“Đồng has opened a blacksmith shop to produce ploughs for the next seven years. He has sold some 3,000 multi-functional ploughs to 2,600 farming households in Đại Hồng Commune.
“We are farmers in a poor rural area that lacks modern farming tools and facilities for materials. His inventions help us greatly in growing crops.”
Besides the useful plough, Đồng has also created a tool to help farmers easily apply fertiliser to pineapple plants, reducing injuries caused by the thorns in pineapple clusters.
One version of the mechanical plough utilises a petrol engine to allow farmers to plough wet rice fields.
For his multi-functional plough invention, Đồng was one of the 62 outstanding farmers honoured in 2013. He also received many certificates and prizes from the Việt Nam Farmers’ Union and the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour.
“This provides the motivation and encouragement I need to continue creating more useful farming tools,” he said. - VNS