Prone Position Weeder/Harvester Workstation

Tool Concept

Primary problem statement:
I am a farmer and I want a tool to weed and harvest beds from a prone position because it will make tasks faster and more ergonomic.
Read more about this problem statement


Field tool used for ergonomic harvest and weeding. Could be used also for transplanting or any ground-level "stoopwork"
Documentation Wiki: 


Harvest and weeding for extended periods of time puts unwanted strain on the human body. Our goal is to create a tool that allows for optimum comfort while doing these field tasks, while also allowing for both hands to be free.
This tool will be able to be adjusted to straddle the width of one to two beds and be operated by one or two people.
There are many commercial models of this idea already made. Our motivation is to create a model that is a cheap and user-friendly as possible.

Functional Description/approach:

This tool will need to be able to go both forwards and backwards. we are wondering whether this tool would better be served by a single motor or a dual motor. Also to be considered is the wide variations between body sizes and types, and being able to accommodate all types of people. The "seat" will have to be fully adjustable, vertically, horizontally, and possibly on a swivel as well.
For harvesting purposes, a mounted basket will be useful. For sunny days, a canopy will also be nice.

How to use the tool:

A foot pedal throttle will propel the tool forwards and backwards. Laying down, the individual will be supported in an ergonomic cushion of some sort with a headrest. In this way, the individual's hands will both be free.

Bill of materials and Sourcing:

An electric wheelchair motor may prove to be ideal. Among the ideas for the body support are a trampoline cutoff, a wooden board with user-supplied cushions, massage chairs,etc. We are still unclear about how to best construct the motor.

Construction/how to build:

Next steps/goals/barriers:

A prototype of this machine will be built this winter (2012-2013).


Ongoing projects:

Rob Rock's Battery-powered Prone Weeder
FarmBicycle, documented on Farm Hack

-The RowRider seemed closest to the group's design ideas -
-The Finnish-made Crawler looked like the high-end model that most participants liked-
-Rob Rock and Andy Crawford's SARE-funded project on building a pedal-powered prone weeder is a great example of what hackers have come up with in the past. Rob recommended that one or two electric motors would be preferential to pedal power.

Farm Hack conversation: Prone Weeder/ Lay Down Weeder/ Bed Weeder: Collection of ideas

-Plans for a seated harvest cart-
-University of Wisconsin "tip sheet" on lay-down weeders-
-National Agriculture Safety Database has a writeup on a 2004 conference that discussed stooped work in the workplace and section 3 discusses agricultural harvesting/weeding.

Looking at construction ideas from various bicycle part based carts:
-Market Farm Toolbox's harvest cart plans-
-Farm Hand Carts has some interesting frame ideas-

?-From what other designs can we borrow structural ideas/components?
-FietsWieder, open source hardware from Belgium
These guys are looking for collaborators. Foot-powered, but better than bike-style pedals because of the way it's geared, according to a University of Wisconsin scientist who specializes in this kind of thing.

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