How a Ukraine farmer is demining with a tractor

STORY: A Ukrainian farmer has come up with a novel idea to remove mines left in his fields after Russia's invasion.

Oleksandr Kryvtsov, the general manager at his agricultural company, has kitted out his tractor with protective panels stripped from Russian tanks and operates it by remote control.

He came up with the idea after deciding he couldn't wait for overworked official deminers to clear his field in the village of Hrakove.

“We started doing this just because the crop sowing time has come and we can’t do anything, because the rescue services are very busy.”

“We ran over an anti-tank mine. The protection got blown out. The tractor is safe, the mechanics were not here. Everyone’s alive and safe. The equipment was restored and repaired.”

After Russian forces were driven back from parts of eastern Ukraine by a Ukrainian counteroffensive last year, many fields were left covered in mines, making it perilous for farmers to sow grain for the next harvest.

Using the armor from damaged Russian military vehicles to protect the body of his tractor, Kryvtsov bought a system that would enable one of his team to operate the tractor remotely -- from the bucket of a digger suspended in the air nearby.

Serhii Dudak, head of the demining unit who oversees the work of the tractor, said it is useful because it can clear large areas with no risk to life.

“The amount of work is huge. And we have no time to demine the fields. It would take years to demine this particular field by hand and to guarantee that there are no mines here.”

The Ukrainian government said on Friday (April 28) about 30% of Ukrainian territory was mined by Russians and that the government was focused on de-mining agricultural land as soon as possible.