Abstract

This paper describes the design, functional testing, and user feedback for a tractor specialized for small farms in low-resource settings, particularly India. The presented tractor is unique in its ability to compete with draft animals’ physical dimensions, pulling performance, and sale price, while retaining key tractor advantages like compatibility with modern tools, low maintenance costs, and reduced drudgery. This tractor features motorcycle-like controls and seating, inline drive wheels, stabilization via an outrigger arm or a specially-developed, novel balance board attachment, and the ability to attach implements ahead or behind the rear axle. The design was created to address unmet farmer requirements identified during interviews with Indian farming stakeholders. A prototype of the tractor demonstrated the completion of key farming operations in a Massachusetts farm where expert user feedback was obtained. In-person interviews on the tractor's usefulness were then conducted with 24 small and marginal Indian farmers in Karnataka, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu. The tractor was described to the farmers with help of pictures, videos, and local experts. Farmers generally reported that the prototype tractor would meet their needs and suggested being willing to purchase the vehicle for 123,000 INR, about 22% higher than the price target for which the tractor was designed. The interviewed farmers reported an average likelihood of 4.8/5 that they would use the vehicle for planting, inter-cultivation, and spraying, and an average likelihood of 3.8/5 that they would use the tractor for primary or secondary tillage.

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