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Vietnamese PE teacher designs award-winning sugarcane farming machines    
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Vietnamese PE teacher designs award-winning sugarcane farming machines Nguyen Van Nung poses with his first machine in Soc Trang Province, Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Apr 27 2018

Two machines designed by a Vietnamese elementary school teacher are being praised for their usefulness in easing the difficulty of cultivating sugarcane, earning their southern Vietnamese inventor much acclaim and several prizes.

Nguyen Van Nung, a physical education teacher at An Thanh 3A Elementary School in Soc Trang Province, is known for much more than teaching sports to children. 

When he is not herding children around his school’s courtyard, he is busy inventing machines that turn soil and aid the care of sugarcane crops.

An important stage in cultivating sugarcane, he said, involves laying tilled soil over the roots of young plants to guarantee appropriate moisture.

Another is forming a small compact pile of dirt around the plants to ensure that more mature plants are able to stand firm in their upright position, particularly in areas like Soc Trang, where the abundance of soft, loose soil renders sugarcane prone to falling.

Spotting the need for machines to aid farmers during those two important steps, Nung has developed two different machines that he hopes will revolutionize sugarcane farming. 

The concept is simple – as one of Nung’s machines moves between the lines of crops, it ploughs the land and throws the soil at the base of the sugarcane. 

Surprisingly, Nung is the first to put the idea into action.

He recalled that his “eureka” moment for the machines first came in 2012 while he was manually digging the ground to care for the sugarcane in his own 20,000-square-meter field – which he uses to earn more money for his children’s education.

The soil-for-moisture machine was completed in late 2014, built from scrap iron he purchased from recycling facilities.

Less than two years later, the invention earned him the top prize in a 2016 provincial competition for technological creativity.

In early 2018, his second machine, which piles dirt around the base of mature plants to keep them upright, won him the highest award in the same provincial competition.

​Vietnamese PE teacher designs award-winning sugarcane farming machines
Nguyen Van Nung (right) talks about his rudimentary steam-powered machine. Photo: Tuoi Tre

“I must say the machine works really smoothly and has many features. The effectiveness is unquestionable. The price is also relatively low, only VND26 million [US$1,144], and it comes with a one-year guarantee,” local farmer Tran Van Gam said of Nung’s invention.

The user added that the machines save him the expense of hiring laborers to work the soil and cover the sugarcane roots.

“The teacher’s machines are light and maneuverable. They have wheels, gear levers, and brake levers so they are easy to control,” said local Nguyen Van Thang, who owns a 50,000-square-meter sugarcane plantation.

Nung said that he has sold over 40 “soil-for-moisture” machines and received nearly ten orders for his “pile-for-strengthened-position” machines.

Officials plan to help the man write a manual and register trademarks for his products.

Nung said his next invention will be a steam-powered machine that facilitates the motion of floating paddlewheel aerators used to encourage oxygen flow in ponds on shrimp farms.

“I’ll take it to a contest in two years. Its main advantages are that it’s fuel-efficient and eco-friendly,” he said with confidence.
- TuoiTreNews