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Studies on Betterutilization of Jute (Corchorus olitorius) Plants Harvested for Seeds in South India-Development of a Novelmethod and Machine: Part-I
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Methods: In the present study, fibre has been extracted in small qualities from post-vegetative phase jute plants and tested according to Bureau of Indian standards (IS 7032 (1986) and IS 271 (2003)) to assess the fibre quality. Engineering design approach has been followed to develop the novel machine for the separation of the source of the fibre and source of seeds.
Results: Results showed that usable fibres for the textile industry could be extracted from post-vegetative jute plants, and that the separation of the sources of fibre and seed could be facilitated with the use of developed machinery and methodology.
Wetlands produce the best jute fiber. These plants grow a 7-12 ft main stem in 120 days. In the vegetative phase, plants are cut at the root and processed for high-quality fibers (Asaduz and Abdullah, 1998; Kundu et al., 1959; Rostom et al., 2015). Pre-vegetative fibre extraction is not advised for fibre quality. After 120-180 days in wetlands, seeds will ripen on major stem branches. Macrophominaphaseolina, which causes jute anthracnose, stem and root rotting (Goid) and seed discolouration, prevents this on wetlands. Long-term agro-climatic changes may damage ripening seeds and diminish seed yield. (Ghosh, 1983; Mollah et al., 2017; Mandal, 2001; Sarkar and Gawande, 2016; Sarkar et al., 2016).
Drylands produce more and better seeds from jute than swamps. Wetland seed cultivation’s limitations have been eliminated by dryland farming. Eastern India (West Bengal, Odisha and Bihar) makes fiber from jute seeds produced from southern India (Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka) as they aresuperior in quality. Good seeds increase jute fibre crop yields by 15-20% (Sarkar and Satpathy, 2016; Sarkar et al., 2016).
Recent dryland jute seed farming involves several steps including planting JRO-524 seeds during the monsoon season, weeding, sizing, adding nutrients, topping (cutting the vertical stem at 4.5-6 feet), cutting plants at the base after 140-150 days (once the seeds have ripened), sun-drying the plants and extracting the seeds using combine harvesters. During the seed extraction process, the main stem, which is the source of fiber, is crushed and becomes unusable. Fig 1 illustrates the waste generated during seed extraction. Burning this waste (approximately 2-3 tons per acre) can have detrimental effects on the environment.
In this study, the quality of jute fiber obtained from jute seed crops was extracted and tested. The results were promising and a modified process, along with a novel machine, was proposed to facilitate the separation of seeds from the fiber source.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
During the 2021-22 session, a novel methodology and machine were developed through an engineering design approach, based on the geometric properties of the jute plant and the feasibility of separating the source of seed and the source of fiber, which were subsequently presented.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The primary objective of this study was to determine the viability of jute seed crops in terms of yielding fibres beneficial to the textile industry. Table 1 provides unequivocal evidence that jute seed crops can produce commercial-grade fibres (TD5 to TD6) suitable for hessian and sack production. The secondary goal of the research, as presented in Table 2, highlights the advantages of jute seed crop fibre extraction without compromising seed production. Regardless of the type of dryland farming, the collection of 30,000 to 50,000 plants per acre resulted in satisfactory seed yields. Each jute plant, with a length of 4-6 ft, can yield 8-15 g of jute fibre without affecting seed production. Therefore, economically viable fibre extraction could lead to an additional production of 4-5 quintals of fibre per acre, providing a significant advantage for farmers. Moreover, the separation of branches containing seeds from the main stems, which are intended for fibre extraction, can reduce agricultural waste by 30 to 50%. However, the current manual method of separating branches from main stems in large quantities is impractical. There are no suitable reports addressing this type of separation, underscoring the urgent need for innovative and cost-effective equipment to streamline this labor-intensive process and enable the efficient separation of fibres and seeds from jute plants harvested for their seeds.
Considering the industrial applications of post-vegetative phase fibres obtained through dryland farming, it is evident that harvesting both fibres and seeds would be beneficial for farmers. However, the manual separation of branches from main stems poses significant challenges on a large scale due to the inherent labor-intensive nature of the process. This issue becomes apparent when examining the geometric characteristics of the jute plant, as presented in Table 3. The manual separation requires bending along the length of the main stem (approximately 5 ft) to detach the branches. Consequently, a new machine has been developed, as depicted in Fig 2 and Fig 3 and minor modifications have been made to the dryland farming procedure, as illustrated in Fig 4.
Fig 2 provides a practical approach for separating fibres and seeds from jute crops harvested for seed. The harvesting process outlined above remains intact for obtaining high-quality dryland jute seeds. Once the seeds have fully matured, the main stems and branches need to be separated using the proposed technique. This involves growing or harvesting jute seeds, removing weeds, nurturing jute plants with appropriate fertilizers, trimming the main stalks when they reach 3 to 5 feet and allowing the plants to mature until the seeds ripen. In the next step, the primary stems of the plants are cut at the base in the early morning of winter to prevent seed loss. The revolutionary machine is then employed to separate the main stems from the branches without causing damage to the seeds. The machine is designed to cut branches growing in 360-degree directions from top to bottom. Following the base trimming, the chopped branches are sun-dried for 10-15 days on a tarp. Once dried, the branches are processed for seed extraction using a combine harvester. For optimal seed quality, the branches should be sufficiently dry to enable effective extraction by the combine harvester, which requires less power compared to processing the entire plant.
Considering the auxiliary features listed in Table 3, particularly the radial distance between the main stem and the nearest matured seedpod (10-15 cm) and the relatively straight main stems, it is evident that a machine is required to separate the branches along the main stem without damaging the seedpods. This analysis of the problem statement, coupled with a review of relevant literature presented in Table 4, indicates a lack of existing methods or machine tools for effectively separating the seeds from the fibre source during seed extraction. However, the analysis suggests various factors to consider for the development of a machine tool, including stripping and cutting techniques for branch separation, seedpod picking, direction of feeding and plant handling. The development of the machine tool requires further investigation and research.
To conduct static analysis, the CAD model of the machine was imported into the Fusion 360 program. The material qualities, size and performance of the components were determined based on the availability of market parts such as bearings, pulleys, motors and cutting blades. The frame, which holds all the components together, underwent loading analysis as a single unit, considering the weights of the remaining components (300N). The frame was constructed using Steel AISI 1008-91 HR, possessing specific characteristics such as density, tensile strength, yield strength, elastic modulus and Poisson’s ratio. Fig 5 presents the analysis results, including displacement, strain, stress and factor of safety. Table 5 provides an overview of the outcomes, indicating that the suggested frame design can withstand all static stresses without failure, ensuring a promising level of safety. However, there is room for improvement in terms of material selection and mass reduction, which requires a more comprehensive analysis. The subsequent phase of the study will focus on the detailed design of each component and outline the manufacturing process of the machine.
(A) Separate fibre and seed sources after seed maturity before sun-drying to maintain seed quality.
(B) “Stripping” and “cutting” machines may separate seed and fibre sources.
(C) The main stem’s radial distance from the seedpods can discover the machine’s components.
(D) Future machine tools may process sleeping plants or root-cut jute plants since upright trees cannot be processed directly.
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