Detrashing in sugarcane cultivation is a recommended practice, which involves removal of unwanted bottom dried and yellowish green leaves on fifth and seventh month after planting. Sugarcane stalk bears large number of leaves (30-35) equal to the number of inter-nodes under good management systems.However, all these leaves are not productive, only top eight to ten leaves are required for optimum photosynthesis. The bottom most green leaves are parasitic on the upper productive leaves and drain out the food reserves (photosynthates) which otherwise could be used for stalk growth. Therefore, in sugarcane it is important to remove the lower dry and green leaves.Detrashing helps in maintaining clean field which minimizes rodents, rats, squirrels in the field that may otherwise cause damage to the crop, enhances air movement and enriches CO2 with in the crop canopy providing an ideal micro-climate for unrestricted growth of cane, availability of more food material for stalk growth, reduces the problem of infestation of several insect-pests like scales, mealy bug, white flies etc, reduces bud sprouting due to accumulation of water inside the sheath and detrashed leaves can be used as a mulch for moisture conservation or composting. Though detrashing has several advantages, physical labour for doing this operation is hard to obtain because of the drudgery. Though the agriculture workers wear a full sleeve shirt during manual detrashing, spines (thorny hair like structures found on leaf and leaf sheaths) cause pricking of the hands causing “Irritant Contact Dermatitis (ICD)”, “Allergic dermatitis (AD)” and “Keratinization” (The deposition of keratin in cells occurring in the epidermis of the skin and structures in nails and hair. The cells become flattened and loose their nuclei). Contact dermatitis results in large burning and itchy rashes, and these can take anywhere from several days to weeks to heal. The symptoms of both include red rash, blister or welts and itchy and burning skin. The leaf blades present in the cane irritate and scratch the hands forming “abrasion and fissures”. When the de-trashing operation is done manually without any tool, the labourers hands are often injured and they were subjected to the above-mentioned injuries. In view of avoiding the direct contact with hands and sugarcane leaves and also to reduce the drudgery involved in detrashing, an ergonomically improved sugarcane detrashing tool was designed and developed with a substantially reduced weight.
This ergonomically improved sugarcane detrashing tool was designed for 280 g weight using the design software as against the existing model of 430 g and developed. This tool has two stainless steel (SS) knives fitted in a ‘U’ shaped stainless steel flat with tension. These knives are 8 inches in length with varying width of 2.5 inches to 1 inch from top to bottom. The knives are welded with 4inch length stemmed 18 x 3mm stainless steel flat, which gives tension by which the knives are stiff enough to detach the leaves. At the bottom of the `U’ shaped steel flat a stainless steel pipe of 25 mm diameter with 30 mm length is attached. It is provided with a wooden handle (1 inch diameter and 5 inches length) for convenience. An adjustable oval shaped loop of 3 mm thickness made up of SS rod was provided which can be moved to and fro to adjust the gap between two knives depending upon the diameter of the sugarcane stalk. The knives are inserted between the internodes at the top and pulled vertically down for removing the dry and unwanted leaves. Detrashing angle of 5 degree and varying approaching/ cutting width ranging from 25 to 50 mm were provided in the tool to ease the detrashing process. This detrasher tool is a smallhand tool for stripping green and dry leaves in standing sugarcane crops and strips, separates andpushes the leaf sheath away from stalk. The person who is intended to do detrashing needs to hold the tool and position the tool at the lower leaf position where the unproductive and dried leaves present in the standing sugarcane crop. Detrashing can be done by pushing the tool down manually and due to this action and lower leaves will be detached from the standing cane stalk. This ergonomically improved detrashing tool can be comfortably used for detrashing the sugarcane leaves during fifth and seventh month and the field capacity of the tool is 0.3 acre per day.