The effect of tractor forward travel speed and ridge height on the amount of fuel consumed by a tractor during ridging operation on a sandy loam soil in a humid tropical environment was investigated. The investigation was the Agricultural Development Programme farm at Rumuodumanya, Rivers State, Nigeria. The experimental plot of 160 by 32.5 m, totaling 5,200 m2, was divided into three major blocks; and further sub-divided into nine sub-plots, measuring 50 × 2 m each. An inter-subplot spacing of 2 m was provided along the longitudinal axis of the plots, to serve as channels for effective and efficient administration of field treatments. Field operations of making ridges of different heights were carried out with a two-row disc ridger mounted on a Swaraj 978 FE tractor. In situ values of soil moisture content and bulk density were determined and assumed constant for the duration of the study. In the process of the operation, the tractor forward travel speed, ridge width and height, ridging time and amount of fuel used during ridging operation were measured. The experimental data obtained was analyzed statistically using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Coefficient of Variation (CV) and Duncan Multiple Range Test (DMRT). The analysis showed coefficients of determination R2 of 0.9499, 0.9112 and 0.9993 for speeds of 1.39, 1.94 and 2.50 m/s, respectively and R2 of 0.978, 0.9578 and 0.9997 for heights of 10, 20 and 30 cm, respectively. From the results of ANOVA and DMRT, there were significant differences at 95 and 99% confidence levels on the effect of speed, ridge height and their combination on the amount of fuel consumed by the tractor during ridging operation. Furthermore, a CV of 0.24% showed that experimental error was low and the investigation reliable. Therefore, tractor fuel consumption during ridging operation can be controlled and optimized by appropriate combinations of ridge height and speed of tractor.
Key words: Tractor, fuel consumption, ridging speed, ridging height, sandy loam soil, tropical environment.
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