HI-TECH FARMING: NSTDA introduces new technologies to the Royal Project

HI-TECH FARMING
Royal Project plants sensors in greenhouses

Published on May 9, 2008

Electronic monitoring system will help control agricultural yields

At the Royal Project, technology is now being used to transform traditional agricultural systems into smart agriculture.

The Royal Project covers agricultural development in the highlands. A new electronic system is being adopted to help the project monitor and control the overall agricultural environment to increase the yield.

Khongpan Rungprateep-thaworn, a researcher from the Embedded Systems Technology Lab at the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec), said to help change the traditional agricultural system into electronic agriculture, the centre had collaborated with the Royal Project to implement a new electronic system in the project's greenhouses which monitors their atmosphere and controls their environment.

"Since each plant has a different requirement, it's necessary to grow them in a suitable environment for the best yield," he said.

The system will use a controller, which comes with a sensor system, to monitor temperature, light, air quality and humidity, as well as soil quality, to help agriculturists with farm management and development of plants. Usually, farmers require such data to help them predict any problems that could affect their plants.

However, so far, they have used their traditional expertise to make predictions.

The electronic system will allow agriculturists to get accurate information, which will help them make better predictions and plan the plant's development and in turn increase the yield, he said.

Nectec plans to start the trial of the new greenhouse controller system at Royal Project by the end of the year.

As of now, the Royal Project is developing its greenhouses. The development of the greenhouse controller is a part of the National Science and Technology Development Agency's (NSTDA) project, which aims to design and develop greenhouses for highlands that have electronic greenhouse controlling systems installed.

Funded by the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec), the project commenced two years ago. Nectec and the National Metal and Materials Technology Centre (Mtec) joined in to help with the development of the project.

While Nectec is overseeing the development of the electronic system for agriculture, Mtec is taking care of the design and development of the new greenhouses.

Nectec, Mtec and Biotec are research centres which come under the NSTDA's umbrella.

So far, Mtec has built greenhouses at six sites of the Royal Project in the North. It is expected to cover nine sites as part of a pilot project.

The Royal Project will also evaluate the results of the new greenhouses equipped with the electronic system before disbursing the information about electronic agriculture to other agriculturists.

It is also considering the use of radio-frequency identification technology for use in the project's supply chain management to help the project gain better control of the chain up to the point where the agricultural products reach the customers.

This news article was published in The Nation, 9 May 2008 issue

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Posted on 15 May 2008.

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