An agricultural implement for underground application of rodenticide bait to control the Mediterranean pocket gopher (Microtus Duodecimcostatus
) in fruit orchards has been designed and tested. The main objective of this research was to design and test the implement by using the finite element method (FEM) and considering a range of loads generated on most commonly used furrow openers in agricultural implements. As a second step, the prototype was tested in the field by analysing the effects of forward speed and application depth on the mechanical behaviour of the implement structure. The FEM was used in the design phase and a prototype was manufactured. The structural strains on the prototype chassis under working conditions were tested by using strain gauges to validate the design phase. Three forward speeds (4.5, 5.5, and 7.0 km/h), three application depths (0.12, 0.15, and 0.17 m), and two types of soil (clayey-silty-loam and clayey-silty-sandy)
were considered. The prototype was validated successfully by analysing the information obtained from the strain gauges. The Von Mises stresses indicated a safety coefficient of 1.9 for the most critical load case. Although both forward speed and application depth had a significant effect on the stresses generated on the chassis, the latter parameter critically affected the structural behaviour of the implement. The effects of the application depth on the strains were linear such that strains increased with depth. In contrast, strains remained roughly constant regardless of variation in the forward speed.
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