Digitalization of Agriculture, a Tool for Food Security and Sustainable Production

Oleh Adi Permana

Editor Vera Citra Utami

BANDUNG,—Agriculture in the 21st century is no longer limited to plowing rice fields using traditional tools, yet it has been extended to an era where the application of sensors and instrumentation is a must to get certain real-time results accurately.

The Vocational Engineering Physics Board of the Indonesian Engineers Association (BKTF PII) held an event, "BKTF Goes to Campus Merdeka", under the theme of “Precision Farming” with Nugroho Hari Wibowo, an ITB Engineering Physics alumnus who built a smart irrigation system called Encomotion, as a keynote speaker on Saturday (3/4/2021) .

Utilizing his competence in physics engineering, Bowo built a team consisted of members from diverse background to create BIOPS Agrotekno Indonesia —a startup that aims to present a new era of agriculture through the development of applied science and technology towards Indonesian agriculture, or better known as precision farming innovation.

In his session, he explained regarding the BIOPS Agrotekno Indonesia and its visions. "Besides developing the technology, we also have a research team to investigate further regarding the potential development of applicable agricultural technology," he revealed.

The Manpower in Agricultural Sector Nowadays

According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), 41.79% of Indonesian farmers have merely graduated from elementary school. The educational background of Indonesian farmers importantly influences the way they receive, proceed, and utilize new information.

"In addition, the majority of our farmers are over 45 years old," he added. This fact shows that most of the younger generation are no longer intrigued to become farmers due to various reasons. Moreover, the insufficiency of technology utilization in the agricultural sector is still clearly shown by the fact that 50.72% of Indonesian farmers only rely on hereditary instinct and conventional method instead of utilizing modern technology and mechanization.

Smart Irrigation System as solution: Encomotion

According to Bowo, urgent agricultural challenges that the farmers are currently facing are the river that dries up every dry season and the usage of chemical pesticides on each plant to prevent pests and diseases.
The real-time data of temperature, humidity, light intensity, rainfall, and weather forecast are needed to run the farm effectively. To solve the current challenges, Encomotion, a smart irrigation system was created to automatically manage the water needs of plants based on its environmental conditions.

"The device that’s developed by Encomotion is built by machine-to-machine integration which enables the farmers not to water the plants manually and so forth," he explained. The data will be taken from the device that has been installed on the farming field.
The data that has been recorded, including temperature, humidity, light intensity and wind velocity, will be sent to Encomotion’s server and will be preceded by a real-time monitor.

A Dream to Create Indonesia to Become Technology-Independent with Superior Manpower

Compared to conventional farming, a farming field that utilizes Encomotion statistically increases its productivity by 40%, saves operating costs by up to 50%, and saves water and fertilizer by up to 40%. Whereas, the conventional farming field tends to grow plants non-uniformly, produce fewer fruit on average, generate smaller average leaf area and smaller stem diameter.

"We are willing to change the mindset of our farmers regarding the fact that the technology of Encomotion can actually be applied to any size of agricultural lands, including small land areas and small capital," he concluded.

Reporter: Athira Syifa P. S. (Teknologi Pascapanen, 2019)
Translator: Naffisa Adyan Fekranie (Oceanography, 2019)

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