Farmers can now control and manage their green houses at the comfort of their home, work or even class after a local Agri-Tech company known as Illuminium Greenhouse sought to create a modern greenhouse using a sensor technology. The company works with small scale farmers to improve food insecurity, climate change, weather variations, pests-crop diseases and outdated technology affecting the agricultural sector.
The greenhouses have been created to monitor temperature, humidity, soil moisture and most importantly regulate water supply which is channeled through driplines and links them up to the farmer’s mobile phone by simply sending an SMS to their greenhouse from anywhere and anytime of day.
According to Illuminium website “The monitoring and regulation is done by the farmer remotely through their mobile phones. They can be able to open and close their irrigation system as well as query and get alerts on their current greenhouse status i.e. Temperature, Humidity and Soil Moisture by simply sending an SMS to their greenhouse from anywhere and anytime of day.”
The company has also incorporated a 14watt solar panel into the system making it efficient and accessible in rural areas where electricity is a challenge. The farmer can also get a warning SMSs on irregular parameters such as high temperatures inside the greenhouse and in turn the system opens the flaps to correct the situation and immediately sends an SMS alert to the farmer informing them of the correction carried out.
Consequently, water conservation has been considered in the project through use of a drip irrigation technology into the greenhouses to improve water conservation and minimize wastage. The device uses its soil moisture sensor effectively maintaining the soil at the required percentage only irrigating the crops when required.
The National Master Plan of 2013 estimates Kenya’s total irrigation potential at 1.9 million acres and out of this, only 350,000 acres had been developed by 2010. This translates to some 18.5 per cent of the available land for irrigation as 81.5 per cent of Kenya’s irrigation potential still remains unutilized. On the other hand, only 1.7 per cent of total arable land in Kenya contributes 10-15 per cent of total GDP directly and provides value of all agricultural produce.
The first prototype has already been developed to solve problems that farmers experience thus reducing their water bills by up to 60% due to the improved irrigation by automated drip lines. No grants or seed capital have been used to develop the prototype but only company generated profits. Illuminium Greenhouses developers targets outdoor drip irrigation farmers in Kenya’s urban towns and cities and beyond. This system has reduced water bills by 60 per cent among farmers who have used it.