Memorandum #31: Monograph of TV Clones


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Mechanization has been a priority area of research at Tocklai. The Engineering Development Branch initiated in 1954 was primarily focused on three important areas, viz., Mechanical Harvesting of Tea, Controlled Withering and Continuous Rolling. Mr. I. McTear, with the help and guidance of the ITA Development Panel in London and its consultant engineer Mr. D. W. Tull, had carried out development of the first ever ride-on machine brought from UK and tested at Borbhetta T.E for plucking tea in 1955. The machine is propelled and operated by an Industrial type fan cooled 4 stroke 500cc engine, mounted on 4 wheels and capable of harvesting leaf from 4’x4’ planted bushes at a rate of 28 bushes per minute disposing the harvested leaf automatically by a system of conveyors which discharge into a leaf container suspended from one side of the machine above surrounding tea bushes. The machine underwent lot of development at Tocklai by Mr Mc Tear and put to test at Borbhetta T.E. for a couple of years in the mid to late 50s. The machine was used to tip and pluck the experimental area. The results were promising and indicated scope for further development in the prototype to achieve the desired leaf quality. Due to a shift in priority to development of machines for tea manufacture as well as abundance of workers at that time the work was not pursued. However, in view of the scarcity of workers particularly in the peak time and increasing cost of production a series of field experiments were carried out at Tocklai in 1980s and 1990s using different machines and shears developed by other agencies. The latest trials were conducted in 2014 to 2017. These studies have indicated the scope of using mechanization and adoption of suitable agro techniques with sacrifice of some amount of crop and quality. This report is a compilation of the past and current work of TRA and the findings are expected to help the industry in making a considered opinion/judgment for adoption of mechanization in plucking tea, which has become almost unavoidable in the present context