Posted on :Tuesday , 31st July 2018
Farmers will be able to manage farming practices such as effective irrigation of their crops without necessarily being at their farm's thanks to a solar-powered technology developed by Rwandan young innovators.
The technology uses irrigation and solar-fueled sensors to collect data on soil moisture, nutrient needs and water needed to foster crop growth.
It is similar to a project by Precise Agriculture (PA), a modern farming management model using digital techniques to monitor and optimize agricultural production processes that the innovators, which was undertaken by the members of the Kicukiro District-based STES Group, a company which was founded by technical innovators and researchers.
STES Group is made up of members from different engineering disciplines (Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering, Computer, Civil Engineering and Electrical Engineering). They started working on the technology in 2016.
According to experts in PA, instead of applying the same amount of fertilizers over an entire farmland, this farming model will measure variations in conditions within a given farm and adapt its appropriate fertilizing or harvesting strategy.
Data about the state of soil is displayed on a farmer's phone screen and the technology gives them a variety of activities to perform accordingly.
The technique aims to enhance the quantity and quality of farm output (produce) while using less input (water, energy, pesticides, fertilizers, among others). The objective is to save costs, reduce environmental impact and produce more and better food.
"A person from Cyangugu (Rusizi District) can log in the application on their phone and they can, for instance, know that their farmland in Rwamagana District lacks water. They do not have to tell a person in Rwamagana to go and irrigate their farm, rather, as a person enters their phone to search contacts, there are many options in the application including automatic irrigation," Narcisse Musabirema, 28, one of the team members who created the technology said.
Musabirema said that normally, people would till the land, sow, de-weed, and harvest without knowing what has occurred within their farms; they do not know the state and quantity of fertilizers and the quantity of water in the soil, as well as the level of nutrient deficiency in the soil.
"So that is the problem the precision agriculture technology we developed wants to solve," he explained adding that the technology has been tested and it has yielded good results.
According to Arsène Simbi Rutangira, the representative of the STES group, the system is priced between Rwf 258,000 ($300) and Rwf 430,000 ($500).
A solar-powered soil test and irrigation technology being tested in a farm early this year.