Earth Links, Inc. Open Source Design Modifications

The method of growing rice known as SRI (System of Rice Intensification), uses a grid pattern when planting the rice seedlings.  Both rice and weeds thrive due to the open space between rows in this pattern, making a weeder an especially important piece of equipment. In this Earth Links, Inc. “SRI Featured Equipment” post we have included two designs and supporting research for the production of a weeding tool which can be made for less than $10USD. Smallholder rice farmers require efficient, affordable and labor-saving weed management technologies, the ring/stirrup hoe has shown to fit this profile. The Ring Hoe was found to be the most borrowed weeding tool in a Sub-Saharan Africa study, and is one of the most preferred weeders among men and women farmers because it is lightweight and affordable.

Examination of Improved Weeding Technologies with Smallholder Rice Farmers in Southern Benin, West Africa

Researchers in the study also recommend wide-scale dissemination of technical drawings of these weeders and other resources such as videos of the tool being made. Presented to Graduate Faculty of Cornell University: Anne-Marie Mitchell 2016

Note: The CAD drawings provided by Earth Links, Inc, above, show possible modifications to the tool designed at AfricaRice. 

For more tool designs from AfricaRice, go to their site, RICEHUB:

Technical Information For the Ring Hoe from the AfricaRice Study:

  • Handle type: Long handled weeder – 106cm *
    Handle length is important to the posture the farmer will assume for many hours
  • Power Source: Manual
  • Directional use: Push-Pull, forward and/or backward
  • Type of ground (grasp): Blade with serrated or flat bottom edge Note: Blade width may vary: 14mm, 18mm…
  • Reduction in labor time compared to handweeding: 55% to 80%
  • Weight: 1 – 3kg

The image on the left shows the women farmers in a more upright position with the long- handled ring hoe weeder. The shorter handled hoe, on the right, shows the farmer bent at the waist.

Access to this simple tool can prevent suffering from debilitating injuries.

Hand-weeding can permanently deform women’s spines: To weed one hectare of a crop, a woman walks 10 kilometers in a stooped position. The Ring Hoe (and other long-handled weeding tools) allows the farmer to work in an upright position, thus reducing years of damage caused by handweeding in the bent over position.” “Weed Problem and Improving Lives of Women Farmers” Leonard Gianesse, CropLife Foundation

Associated Research Articles for the Ring Hoe Weeder:

1. Farmers’ Perceptions on Mechanical Weeders in Sub-Saharan Africa

Jean-Martial Johnson, et al
Africa-Rice, Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation
Cambridge University Press (2018)

Farmer Perceptions on Mechanical Weeders in Sub-Saharan Africa

In the above study, 5 mechanical weeders were introduced to farmers. The main objective of these technologies is to reduce labour inputs for weeding in rice cultivation and a farmer participatory approach was used to identify the most preferred weeders. The most “borrowed” weeder among farmers was the ring hoe, which offers a gender-neutral solution for reducing labor and is broadly adapted to diverse environments and crops due to its simplicity and affordability. For enhancing farmers’ access to this weeder, agricultural research and development efforts should address improvements of local fabricators’ technical skills, and challenges and opportunities for their businesses dealing with it.

2. Examination of Improved Weeding Technologies with Smallholder Rice Farmers in Southern Benin, West Africa 

Anne-Marie Mitchell
Presented to Graduate Faculty of Cornell University (2016)

Examination of Improved Weeding Technologies with Smallholder Rice Farmers

The intent of this study was to both implement a simple mechanical weeder and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses through farmer surveys and controlled field tests. Much like previous studies have found, the ring hoe weeder effectively reduced weeding time, significantly lessening the labor time required of rice farmers by up to 80%. Further, the surveys demonstrated a positive reaction to the utility of the weeder in relation to its cost, efficiency, weight, multiuse, and potential for continued use and adoption.

Screen Shots and Videos

Instructions for Recycle Strap Hoe

USDA Organic Research Farm in Salinas: “making a ring hoe with metal shipping straps”

Open Blade Hoe


Flex-Ring Hoe Weeding Tool

Garden Hoe Restoration

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