MARCAVELICA, Peru – Samán Sector’s organic banana growers seem to face two troubles: the lack of mobile coverage, that leads them to depend on an only operator for making business, and the uncertainty in field parameters those allow them to correct aspects like the irrigation, the fertilization, and even the harvest time. In both cases, their competitiveness is very vulnerable.
However, a bunch of seven just graduated engineers from Sullana and Piura could have a technological solution that, at least, solves the field parameters uncertainty issue, specifically the irrigation, by installing sensors connected under web architecture throughout the acres, promising greater productiveness and quality, and optimizing costs.
The entrepreneurship is called HidroDatos (HydroData in English), that is also the name given to the system, consisting to measure key indicators as the humidity, the relative (water steam pressure at a specific temperature) as well as the soil’s, as well as the air temperature in the same estate where the system is installed.
“If the soil humidity is too low, the growing of plants will be seen compromised – if the humidity is too high or too low, losing quality reduces the price of crops sales and increases growing costs, what reduces gains,” they affirm. “If the air is extremely dry, but the substratum has enough water, the plant can wither, and, unless the humidity raises, the plant could die.”
If the air is very wet, the plant does not absorbe much water from the substratum, what ends to feed it bad. In consequence, the plants wither, grow weakly, stunt, get much ill, the leaves do not grow enough, and the harvest levels can fall down.
HidroDatos promises to notify authomatically when and how much is necessary to irrigate by a warning ssent to the smartphone or computer connected to the Internet, what means access everywhere in the world, plus logging in all the parameters on real time, so anticipating the necessary preventive actions .
All the sensorrs are geo-located by a GPS system, are customized according to the needs of the estate, and fed with electricity taken from solar panels plugged to a battery, that assures to work 24 hours a day. All the datacasting is made by a wireless system 3300-feet range around, if the field is flat. It also offers back-ups and the whole information is accessible on LCD screen interfases.
Unlike government’s or online weather forecast services, what the system does is specializing on the microclimate of each estate: “That’s why the data are most accurate,” HidroDatos’ leader and mechanic-electric engineer Julio Salinas explains. In that sense, the timely information allows to save water for irrigation, increases productiveness, reduces costs. It also provides historical graphics those ease to forecast the trend of each cropping in every estate, especially if the weather conditions become worst.
Salinas explains that installing HidroDatos in 2.5 acres can cost at least US$ 3030, investment that could be profitable in two campaigns or after a year. Comparing to other systems in other growing zones of Latin America, this is the cheapest one, totally manufactured in Piura Region although the individual components are imported.
However, the engineer admits that one of the problems is the conectiveness to wireless Internet, that for the moment in Samán, where they have a sample system, depends on one only mobile operator. Otherwise, HidroDatos offers much versatility with any crop.
Samán is a sector in Chira Valley, Piura Region, which mostly grows banana for exportation, but it has been historically known by the rice. Other crops in the zone are sugarcane and grapes.
Chira’sbananas are mainly exported to the United States and Western Europe, where each unit costs around one dollar and a dollar and a half. Salinas states that including HidroDatos in growing process would not become expensive the product. Rather, it could offer a fruit gotten with greater eco-friendly standards for the final consumer, as the water saving and the use of clean energy. The flavor, obviously, is goin to be the same. It will be matter to try.