Measuring the Operating Performance of the SIL Thresher

A Public-Private Partnership to Measure the Economics and Operating Performance of a Locally Produced Commercial Soybean Thresher


The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research (SIL) is dedicated to soybean research for economic development and the reduction of poverty and hunger by nurturing improved soybean value chains in Africa. Since 2016, SIL has been working to improve access to thresher services for smallholder farmers by implementing a training program for local fabrication of a multi-crop thresher designed for service providers or income-generating cooperatives.

ADMI and SIL have cooperated on a number of projects designed to improve access to postharvest loss-reducing technology and information for smallholder soybean farmers, including Multi-Crop Thresher Fabrication Training and Enabling Female Access to Post-Harvest Mechanization.

Project Information

The goal of the project is to improve the rigor of the evidence supporting mechanical threshing to better support the fabricators and thresher dealers who are actively producing, marketing, and selling the SIL thresher.

Specifically, researchers will work to determine information about the performance and profitability of the multi-crop thresher implemented by SIL, including:

1) engineering capacity, throughput, speed, and time; 2) costs of operation; 3) inbound grain moisture; 4) post-harvest loss; 5) post-harvest grain quality; 6) post-harvest grain foreign matter; and 7) operating labor requirements and tasks.

Project Outcomes

The research showed that the SIL thresher’s low cost of operation could enable multi-crop thresher enterprises to be significantly profitable. The gross margin analysis revealed that threshing services generates a net revenue of US$2.64 and cost of US$0.07 respectively for every bag of crop threshed. The operator gross margin value of 98% indicates that the thresher operator retains US$0.98 from each dollar of revenue generated, which demonstrates the profitability of providing thresher services to farmers.

Data also indicates that seed loss in the SIL multi-crop thresher is below 1% and foreign matter by weight is below 0.05%, with no stones found. Breakage is minimal and fuel use is affordable.

To disseminate the results and implications from the study, SIL compiled a detailed report and produced a webinar that also features the background work completed by SIL including a literature review, engineering plans and drawings, a fabrication manual and a network of collaborators.

The webinar also drew on research from another ADMI-funded project, Enabling Female Access to Post-Harvest Mechanization.