Some Design Principles for Open Farm Tools and Questions to Consider

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Some design principles for open farm tools and questions to consider (and modify, discuss and add to)

Biology before steel and diesel – is there a way to approach this problem by using biological systems that add to soil health – such as cultural practices like cover cropping, mulching, crop or animal rotations etc.

Holistic approach – does this tool make me enjoy working with it as much as getting the job done faster?

Designed to empower owner of tool to use, modify and improve – different from industrial tools which user does not own in the sense that there are aspects of the tool that are inaccessible to the user. If you can not modify a tool you do not really own it, but are just borrowing it from the system that created it.

Designed for transparent function – functional components are clearly laid out and purpose is clear.

Modularity – functions can be removed and replaced without reengineering entire tool. Tool function can be changed by adding or subtracting parts.

Adaptability- tools can be used for many functions and can be changed to new functions easily.

Design for Disassembly – modularity/if welded easy access to joint for cut/ no hidden bolts/ exposed bearings/belts/ Belt and chain tensioners have enough play to enable easy removal

Universal couplers/fastener spacing – use of standard quick connects for electronics/hydraulics/air lines/power take offs

Design with replicability in mind Could this part be recreated in a farm shop in a small town – Use of common dimension materials. for example design for welded and machined parts rather than castings

Use of “off the shelf” or commonly available components, or components that are or can be repurposed – can a more easily sourced part do the job as well?

Dorn's picture

I posted a wiki to capture FarmHack design principles. I am sure several of these could be consolidated and articulated further - It would be great to also link to examples of each criteria in use with FarmHack tools and to reference them as we document our tools and design choices.

Here is the link to the building design principles wiki

A good similar discussion can be found here

and here

mrw601's picture

Another principle might be "Complies with accepted standards". Examples would be the ASAE (now ASABE) 3 point hitch and quick-attaching coupler standards S217.12 and S278.6 and SAE universal attachment standard J2513, mentioned elsewhere in the forums.
I think the tool that best personifies these principles is the 3 point hitch toolbar. We have set up a number of toolbars, using a wide variety of purpose built and adapted tools.

DGrover's picture

Added these to the Wiki but to put them out into the universe in multiple places:

“ work in cadence, something's are breakable”

minimize energy use, direct use of the sun
look to tradition
look to natural systems
understand the material
organic can be the incuabtion chamber
flexible, apdaptive