A group of students has developed a farm-friendly Internet of Things (IoT) system that reduces water usage and minimizes dependency on fertilizer, an innovation that can help produce greater yields minus fertilizer costs for farmers.
The team from Sona College of Technology, Salem, secured first place in the hardware category at the ‘Smart India Hackathon 2020′ conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare, for their solution that uses the principles of Internet of Things (IoT) and magnetization.
“Our project aims to help farmers by purifying their available bore-well water significantly, with zero waste,” Dr R Malathy, Dean (R&D) and Professor, Department of Civil Engineering who mentored the team said in a statement on Thursday.
Of the 343 problem statements released for all participants across 40 nodal centers, solutions from four teams from across India were recognized in the finals.
While bore-well water is used for almost all farm applications, the nature of such water causes scaling.
This, in turn, leads to non-uniform water supply to plants and poor mineral absorption.
The limescale deposition also damages soil structure. Such hard water is absorbed by the plant cells with difficulty.
According to the college, if through intervention, the water’s minerals are broken down into smaller particles, they become more bio-available to these plant cells.
The solution achieves this by using a designated permanent rare earth magnet.
The water is passed through a magnetic field and undergoes electrolysis and magnetization.
“This breaks the larger water clusters into smaller, hexagonal-shaped clusters. Such magnetically treated, hexagonal-structured water molecules not only stop scaling, but also remove existing scaling,” the college explained.
The magnetic structuring breaks all minerals into smaller particles, and in the process, the salt in the soil is also broken down.
As a result, the salt sinks deep into the soil and can be washed away easily.
The desalination happens quickly over a season, creating much healthier plants and greater yields, and a better final product.
“With minimal usage of water, the plants were hydrated well, and were able to absorb maximum minerals. This resulted in greater yields, larger and better end product, earlier maturation, longer shelf life, and healthier plants”.
Such a system allows a reduction in the water needs, as well as dependency on fertilizer and pesticides and can be a boon for farmers.
“This helps carry sufficient minerals in the standard composure, with water free from hardness for their transpiration and respiration, with zero maintenance cost. The IoT-enabled, user-friendly system makes our project unique,” said Dr Malathy.
The team is now working on applying for a patent for their IoT-based solution.