Threshers, pedal powered

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Threshing is a key part of agriculture that involves removing the seeds or grain from plants (for example rice or wheat) from the plant stalk. In the case of small farms, threshing is done by beating or crushing the grain by hand or foot, and requires a large amount of hard physical labour. A simple thresher with a crank can be used to make this work much easier for the farmer. In most cases it takes two people to work these: one person to turn the crank and the other to feed the grain through the machine. These threshers can be built using simple materials and can improve the efficiency of grain threshing. They can also be built with pedals, or be attached to a bicycle, so that the person operating it can simply pedal to reduce the work even more and make threshing faster.


Threshers can be made in a number of ways using simple tools, and can be used in the harvesting of maize/corn, rice, wheat, sorghum, pearl millet, and any other grain or seed that must be separated from a stalk. The attachment of a thresher to a pedal-system can be built with basic materials. Two versions are the pedal-powered thresher which is built as one piece and the attachment to a bicycle for a regular thresher with a crank. [1] Pedal-powered threshers have been suggested or made available to farming communities by governmental or non-governmental organizations. It should be remembered that there are some disadvantages to these threshers and their impact in the specific region should be researched before being suggested.


Thresher are many different designs for threshers and they can be made from wood or metal. The shape of the thresher can vary, but it must include some main parts:

Pedal-powered threshers

Stationary pedal-system

An addition that can be built to make a thresher more efficient is to make it pedal-powered. This adds two more parts:

The pedal-powered thresher developed by the Maya Pedal Project provides a good example of a built-in pedal system to a thresher/mill. [5]

Attachment to a bicycle

An attachment to a regular bicycle can be built to allow the bike to be used as the seat, pedals, chain and sprocket of the thresher. The bicycle must be on a stand so that the back wheel is raised off the ground. Plans have been developed to build the attachment and the wheel-stand out of pieces of metal, including a large wheel that can be screwed to the crank section of the thresher (see External links). [3] A drill will be required to make this as well.


Advantages of the thresher include less physical labour and more efficiency (amount of grain thresher per amount of time). [6] Less seed breakage is also a benefit of using a thresher as opposed to stomping or beating grains. [6] However, more breakage can occur it is not used properly.



Cultural differences must be considered. [6] Introduction of machinery to the threshing process, and the way that the pedal-powered thresher is used have conflicted with cultural beliefs or practices in some cases. The preferences of the region must be taken into consideration. [6]


There are physical dangers involved in introducing machinery into a farming process; one of these is injury to hands and arms when feeding the stalks into the thresher. [2] When building the thresher, creating a higher hood/chute cover helps stop the operator’s hands from contacting the machine, but does not entirely eliminate the danger. [2]

Seed breakage

Seeds can be broken and ruined as they go through the thresher, and seed breakage can happen more often with threshers that are the wrong size or design for the type of seed. [1] The wire loops or spikes may have to be adjusted if seeds appear to be broken (please see suggestion for spacing). Seed breakage also happens with stomping and beating, however if the thresher is not built in an appropriate way for the specific grain, more breakage may occur. If the thresher is well-suited for the size of the grain and stalks, it should have fewer broken seeds than beating or stomping. [6] The most common seed breakage with threshers is with corn/maize, when there is too much moisture in the kernels. [1] This can be reduced by drying kernels more thoroughly before threshing. [1]


The size and weight of the thresher can be problematic. The thresher may need to be carried, and therefore must be light enough for one person. The suggested weight is 35 kg. [7] On hillside farms it may be difficult to transport the thresher or to set it up properly. [7]

Related Research Articles

Bicycle Pedal-driven two-wheel vehicle

A bicycle, also called a bike or cycle, is a human-powered or motor-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A bicycle rider is called a cyclist, or bicyclist.

Thresher may refer to:

Threshing machine agricultural machine

A threshing machine or a thresher is a piece of farm equipment that threshes grain, that is, it removes the seeds from the stalks and husks. It does so by beating the plant to make the seeds fall out.

Tandem bicycle Type of bicycle

The tandem bicycle or twin is a form of bicycle designed to be ridden by more than one person. The term tandem refers to the seating arrangement, not the number of riders. Patents related to tandem bicycles date from the mid 1880's. Tandems can reach higher speeds than the same riders on single bicycles, and tandem bicycle racing exists. As with bicycles for single riders, there are many variations that have been developed over the years.

Mechanization process of changing from working largely or exclusively by hand or with animals to doing that work with machinery

Mechanization is the process of changing from working largely or exclusively by hand or with animals to doing that work with machinery. In an early engineering text a machine is defined as follows:

Every machine is constructed for the purpose of performing certain mechanical operations, each of which supposes the existence of two other things besides the machine in question, namely, a moving power, and an object subject to the operation, which may be termed the work to be done. Machines, in fact, are interposed between the power and the work, for the purpose of adapting the one to the other.

Combine harvester machine that harvests grain crops

The modern combine harvester, or simply combine, is a versatile machine designed to efficiently harvest a variety of grain crops. The name derives from its combining three separate harvesting operations—reaping, threshing, and winnowing—into a single process. Among the crops harvested with a combine are wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn (maize), sorghum, soybeans, flax (linseed), sunflowers and canola. The separated straw, left lying on the field, comprises the stems and any remaining leaves of the crop with limited nutrients left in it: the straw is then either chopped, spread on the field and ploughed back in or baled for bedding and limited-feed for livestock.

Crankset Set of sprockets attached to the bottom bracket of a bicycle.

The crankset or chainset, is the component of a bicycle drivetrain that converts the reciprocating motion of the rider's legs into rotational motion used to drive the chain or belt, which in turn drives the rear wheel. It consists of one or more sprockets, also called chainrings or chainwheels attached to the cranks, arms, or crankarms to which the pedals attach. It is connected to the rider by the pedals, to the bicycle frame by the bottom bracket, and to the rear sprocket, cassette or freewheel via the chain.

Bicycle pedal part of a bicycle that the rider pushes with their foot to propel the bicycle

The pedal is the part of a bicycle that the rider pushes with their foot to propel the vehicle. It provides the connection between the cyclist's foot or shoe and the crank allowing the leg to turn the bottom bracket spindle and propel the bicycle's wheels. A pedal usually consists of a spindle that threads into the end of the crank, and a body on which the foot rest is attached, that is free to rotate on bearings with respect to the spindle.

Universal nut sheller

The universal nut sheller is a simple hand-operated machine capable of shelling 50 kilograms (110 lb) of raw, sun-dried peanuts per hour.

Cycling shoe

Cycling shoes are shoes purpose-built for cycling. There are a variety of designs depending on the type and intensity of the cycling for which they are intended. Key features include rigidity, for more-efficient transfer of power from the cyclist to the pedals, weight, a method of attaching the shoe firmly to the pedal and adaptability for use on and off the bicycle. Most high-performance cycling shoes can be adjusted while in use, via a quick-adjusting system that has largely replaced laces.

Motorized bicycle bicycle with an attached motor or engine and transmission

A motorized bicycle is a bicycle with an attached motor or engine and transmission used either to power the vehicle unassisted, or to assist with pedalling. Since it always retains both pedals and a discrete connected drive for rider-powered propulsion, the motorised bicycle is in technical terms a true bicycle, albeit a power-assisted one. However, for purposes of governmental licensing and registration requirements, the type may be legally defined as a motor vehicle, motorbike, moped, or a separate class of hybrid vehicle.

Treadle Mechanism converting reciprocating into rotating motion

A treadle is a mechanism operated with a pedal for converting reciprocating motion into rotating motion. Along with cranks, treadmills, and treadwheels, treadles allow human and animal machine power in the absence of electricity.

Handcycle arm-powered land vehicle

A handcycle is a type of human-powered land vehicle powered by the arms rather than the legs, as on a bicycle. Most handcycles are tricycle in form, with two coasting rear wheels and one steerable powered front wheel. Despite usually having three wheels, they are also known as handbikes.

Dead centre (engineering) stalling position of moving parts

In a reciprocating engine, the dead centre is the position of a piston in which it is either farthest from, or nearest to, the crankshaft. The former is known as top dead centre (TDC) while the latter is known as bottom dead centre (BDC).

Avery Company

The Avery Company, founded by Robert Hanneman Avery, was an American farm tractor manufacturer famed for its undermounted engine which resembled a railroad engine more than a conventional farm steam engine. Avery founded the farm implement business after the Civil War. His company built a large line of products, including steam engines, beginning in 1891. The company started with a return flue design and later adapted the undermount style, including a bulldog design on the smokebox door. Their design was well received by farmers in central Illinois. They expanded their market nationwide and overseas until the 1920s, when they failed to innovate and the company faltered. They manufactured trucks for a period of time, and then automobiles. until they finally succumbed to an agricultural crisis and the Depression.

Threshing board

A threshing board is an obsolete agricultural implement used to separate cereals from their straw; that is, to thresh. It is a thick board, made with a variety of slats, with a shape between rectangular and trapezoidal, with the frontal part somewhat narrower and curved upward and whose bottom is covered with lithic flakes or razor-like metal blades.

Agricultural machinery Machinery used in farming or other agriculture

Agricultural machinery is machinery used in farming or other agriculture. There are many types of such equipment, from hand tools and power tools to tractors and the countless kinds of farm implements that they tow or operate. Diverse arrays of equipment are used in both organic and nonorganic farming. Especially since the advent of mechanised agriculture, agricultural machinery is an indispensable part of how the world is fed.

Post-harvest losses (grains)

Grains may be lost in the pre-harvest, harvest, and post-harvest stages. Pre-harvest losses occur before the process of harvesting begins, and may be due to insects, weeds, and rusts. Harvest losses occur between the beginning and completion of harvesting, and are primarily caused by losses due to shattering. Post-harvest losses occur between harvest and the moment of human consumption. They include on-farm losses, such as when grain is threshed, winnowed, and dried, as well as losses along the chain during transportation, storage, and processing. Important in many developing countries, particularly in Africa, are on-farm losses during storage, when the grain is being stored for auto-consumption or while the farmer awaits a selling opportunity or a rise in prices.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Mtshali 1998, p.23-25.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Dewangan 2010, p.560-73.
  3. 1 2 3 Ebenezer (2013). "Technology for the poor". Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 Singh 2008, p. 591-600.
  5. 1 2 "Pedal Powered Water Pumps, Threshers, Blenders, Tile Makers and More" (2001). Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Quisumbing 2012, p.581-92.
  7. 1 2 Nkakini 2007, p.1175-86.