Indonesian students invent agricultural climate controller

Indonesian students invent agricultural climate controller

logo ITB (ANTARA PHOTO/Fahrul Jayadiputra)

Bandung, W.Java (ANTARA News) - Three students of the Electrical Engineering Program at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) have invented a technology to assist farmers in adjusting the climatic conditions for indoor plants.

According to a press release received by ANTARA here on Monday, the tool called Autogrow allows indoor plants to grow under adjusted temperature, humidity, climate, and light.

The team behind the development of Autogrow comprises Pranata P. Christian Sitepu, Noor Azizah, and Giovanni Guliano.

The team is guided by Ary Setijadi and Reza Darmakusuma from the Electrical Engineering Study Program and Iriawati from the Biology Study Program.

According to Pranata, this tool has been devised after taking into account the rapid growth in human population that is disproportionate in comparison with the amount of food produced.

"The point that we highlight is the high price of chilies and vegetables in Indonesia in 2017 due to crop failure that occurred, as farmers depended on the climate, which could not be adjusted, and they could not predict the changes," Pranata noted, adding that Autogrow has been created and will be disseminated to farmers.

He explained that this tool is able to create stable and ideal climatic conditions in tune with the needs of plants. The targeted users of this product are urban residents, who use indoor space for farming, as they do not have adequate land area.

"This idea originated from the MIT Agriculture Department that is conducting research on indoor climate settings for plants," he noted.

Pranata explained that Autogrow works on an android application to facilitate users in setting and monitoring the conditions of climate parameters.

There is also a database feature to store climate readout data for the past months and can be used to view climatic conditions in the previous days.

Autogrow hardware comprises some sensors for temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide to monitor the air conditions as well as sensors for light intensity, pH, electrical conductivity, and temperature to control nutrient solutions.

In addition, Autogrow is equipped with a camera to capture images of plant growth every day.

"If the plant growth is not yet optimal, then the parameters entered by a user will be automatically updated in order to obtain optimal yield," he explained.

This tool is used by connecting it to a power source and then to the internet network. The user thereafter inserts seedlings into the tool along with the nutrient solution and then inputs the climate condition parameters through the android application. After all the procedures are completed, the user merely waits until the harvest time arrives.

Since Autogrow is still a prototype, the price is rather expensive. The manufacturing costs range from Rp5-6 million (or some US$350-415).

It took approximately a year and a half to make the tool, which includes six months of planning, five months of manufacturing, and six months for conducting experiments on system and evaluation.

"This tool is expected to emulate climatic conditions of different parts of the world, so that people can grow a variety of vegetables and plants," Pranata remarked.

Autogrow was one of the technology products on display at the Electrical Engineering Days, or EEDays, organized by the Electrical Engineering students of ITB on May 22-24, 2018.