Bullkey: Mechanization of animal power on Indian farms


About 70% of India’s 100 million farmers utilize animals as their main source of draft power. As a general rule, animals, when compared to tractors, are more expensive to own and decrease farm yields (kgs. of produce per acre). Despite that, Indian farmers utilize animals because of their low capital cost and because tractors offered to them are inadequate for their farm sizes and farming practices.

The aim of this research is to develop a mechanized alternative to bullocks that is attractive to farmers currently relying on animal power. To do this, we are eliminating the constraints of a conventional “tractor” configuration, which evolved in Western Europe and North America almost 100 years ago. The Bullkey powered farming device will be suited to contemporary Indian farmers. To do this, we are studying stakeholder needs, mechanical design, and the underlying mechanics of tire-soil interactions.

Currently we have identified an advantageous configuration through computer modelling as well as field visits to multiple sites and stakeholders in India. We are creating a proof-of-concept prototype to further refine this configuration experimentally before moving on to making the first Bullkey.

Awards & Media

  • TATA Fellows win awards at MERE 2016
  • Poster: Specialized Tractor for Replacement of Animal Power in Indian Farms