In the series of activities under the project entitled “IoT-RESA: An Internet of Things based Resilient, Efficient, and Safe Agriculture Ecosystem”, a research group from Duy Tan University (DTU) and Nong Lam University (NLU) has collaborated in reviewing and proposing a proper solution for applying Information, Electronics, and Telecommunications Technologies (IETT) to agriculture production and management in some particular farms and cooperatives in Lam Dong province.
According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, with 316.169 ha of agricultural land and 248,000 tons of production of agricultural crops, agriculture contributes over 50% to GDP in Lam Dong province. Some leading brands of agricultural products in Lam Dong can be known as coffee, tea, vegetables, flowers, and dairy cattle. In recent years, Lam Dong has motivated local companies to apply advanced technologies to agriculture for higher added value of products and there have been 8 companies involved mostly in vegetables and premium flowers. Many advanced technologies have been used such as greenhouse, automatic irrigation system, in vitro propagation, etc. Several farms have applied IETT to agriculture production and management including: 1) automatic irrigation system used for potato farm at Quang Lap cooperative in Don Duong; 2) automatic irrigation system and temperature, humidity, CO2, and solar luminosity sensors used for farming salad, zucchini, baby cucumber, chili, and tomato at An Phu cooperative (in cooperation with Vineco, VinGroup) in Dinh An; and 3) the same technology with An Phu has been applied to vegetables and plantation by Phong Thuy cooperative in cooperation with Coopmart, Lottle, and BigC.
However, high cost, market risk, and dynamic weather caused by climate change, have posed a set of challenges to agriculture production in Lam Dong. Based on the review in Mar. 2018, the research group of DTU and NLU pointed out some limitations of the applications of IETT to agriculture production and management as follows:
- Sensor technology (temperature, humidity, CO2, solar luminosity sensors, etc.) is not well adapted to the characteristics of local plant, land, and environment.
- Irrigation system is not completely automatic and needs manual control, e.g., irrigation levels setting mainly relying on the experience of farmers. And thus, the system cannot grasp the various plaints and crops.
- Economic efficiency is not convincing and thus not motivating the farmers to apply advanced technologies. This results in less hi-tech agricultural productive land, i.e., only occupying 18% area of the total agricultural land.
Based on the aforementioned problems and the discussion with the representatives of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the research group of DTU and NLU has proposed a more convincing and efficient solution for applying IETT to agriculture production and management in Lam Dong. The solution is that 1) an insightful investigation into the application status of IETT to agriculture production and management in Lam Dong is required to identify the preparedness, the milestones to expand the hi-tech agricultural productive land and plants, and the economic efficiency and 2) a data set of characteristics of local plants, land, and environment is collected and then finding proper technologies that can be adapted to the data set. This way, the research group will collaborate with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to implement in some farms and agricultural cooperatives for the final evaluation of economic and technical efficiency of the proposed solution before a massive development in Lam Dong.