Plastic rolling machine
Whether for mulching or soil solarisation, this plastic rolling machine is a quick and easy way of laying down plastic sheeting onto beds. The technical drawings for this implement can be downloaded from our website.
To find out more about the use of plastic mulches in organic agriculture, Adrian Cochet, a market gardener from the Jardins Épicés, speaks of his experience in an article published in the newsletter La Luciole. It’s at the Jardins Épicés that the prototype of the rolling machine was tested over the course of a year, and evolved from its initial design to the final design 2.2.
Atelier Paysan wanted to make an implement which was both simple and affordable. To achieve this, the number of parts for the tool were reduced to a minimum. It was through a series of designs, prototypes and tests that the final design emerged. To see how the design evolved, read on..
A simple three bar frame was chosen, onto which were fitted depth wheels, discs to open the furrows, wheels to stretch out the plastic and furrow closers. To avoid the furrow closers breaking if they knocked against something, it was decided to fix them on double coiled blades.
When we tested the prototype, it was difficult to position the furrow closers at the right angle using standards parts (because parts available on the market only have standard folds).
The tests were unsatisfactory: the plastic was not sufficiently taut and the furrow closers were too far from the wheels to cover the furrows.
⁃ The furrow closers were replaced by discs which are easily adjustable both in height and direction
⁃ In order to stretch the plastic out, a drum roller was added to the frame, mounted on independently acting arms to ensure that the roller always stays in contact with the soil
⁃ Two small bars were added onto the frame to bring the stretcher wheels as close as possible to the drum roller, and ensure the correct spacing between the stretcher wheels and the back discs
- The plastic roller was placed above the frame. An arched plate (with carpet glued to its bottom side) pushes onto the plastic roller in order to keep the plastic taut
- The drum roller successfully kept the plastic taut
- We noticed that it was hard for one person to fix the plastic roller onto the frame on their own (as it involves threading the tube inside and then tightening it with the handles)
- The discs to close the furrows tended to pile too much soil onto the plastic
- The plastic roller is now held in place by two sets of three guide rollers. Flanges fixed on the sides block the roller when in motion
- Broom heads have been fixed on the back bar to brush off any soil thrown onto the plastic by the discs
- A system of stretchers and clips attached to the back bar hold the plastic up when it’s not being rolled out
- This design was approved following the series of tests carried out during the summer of 2014. See the video above to be convinced!
The technical drawings available online correspond to Design 2.2, which has not been prototyped. Following the prototyping of Design 2.1, it was then necessary to add a few minor changes to the design, in order to facilitate the construction and adjustment of the implement. These changes do not alter the basic workings of the plastic rolling machine.
Documents to download
The entirety of this article, including descriptions, photos and technical drawings, are available for all to use under a Creative Commons licence. They can be distributed and modified as long as the user mentions their origins (Atelier Paysan) and ensures that all related tools and documents are also under Creative Commons.