Tra Vinh University: Solutions for drought in Mekong river Delta

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TVU – Alternative Wetting and Drying – AWD with IoT technology brings a clear effect, helping farmers save form 13% to 20% of water compared to manual AWD. More than 80% of farmers agree that AWD with IoT technology saves them energy and time.

These days, southwestern provinces are at the peak of drought, so the research on “Application of IoT technology with smart sensor systems and applications running on smartphone platform to improve water use efficiency in rice cultivation in the Mekong Delta” of students and lecturers of Tra Vinh University became even more significant.

Water-saving solution

Smart sensors manufactured by the research team

In March 2020, western provinces are at the peak of drought. Tra Vinh University is located in a core area of the Mekong Delta, so above all, the lecturers and students understand the value of farming and gardening which is vital for the people here.

With funding from the World Bank (WB) for the project, TVU teachers and students have implemented the project on the basis of applying IoT technology to encourage the application of Alternative Wetting and Drying – AWD in rice cultivation.

According to the research team, alternative wetting and drying (AWD) technique can reduce water use by up to 28% and methane emissions by up to 48%. However, this technique can cause difficulties for farmers because they need to monitor water levels closely as well as regulate water sources regularly. The majority of farmers still practice in routine, relying on conjecture instead of accurate data.

Therefore, the solution given is to use AWD technique in combination with the application of IoT technology and smart sensor systems measuring water level and the application running on the smartphone platform to help farmers monitor and rationally regulate water levels, and effectively manage water resources thereby saving water, labor and reducing emissions from wet rice cultivation.

Actual implementation

After field research and implementation, the project carried out four rice crops in nearly two years, covering a total area of 70 hectares of rice cultivation in three provinces of Can Tho, Tra Vinh and An Giang of 80 small farmers and one enterprise.

At each site, participating farmers were divided into three groups of rice cultivation by continuous flooding with manual AWD or AWD with IoT. AWD teams with IoT have been provided with a technological solution that includes sensors, telemetry, automatic irrigation systems, smartphone monitoring and control applications. In addition, trainers, university students and other experts assist farmers in setting up irrigation plans suitable for each soil type and rice variety

Rice growing fast in the field.

The results showed that AWD with IoT brought about remarkable efficiency, helping farmers save 13% to 20% more water compared to manual AWD. More than 80% of farmers agree that AWD with IoT saves them energy and time. In the final stage, IoT applications created higher productivity than manual AWD with an increase of more than 11% in Can Tho, Tra Vinh and An Giang, up nearly 5%. With such significant benefits, most farmers in the area have expressed their desire to continue using this technology in the next rice seasons.

TS Nguyen Thai Son, Head of the Department of Engineering and Technology, Deputy Head of the Project Management Unit, said: “The project has shown some positive results when helping people save irrigation water from 13-20% compared to with manual AWD, the cost of irrigation pumps is 24-50%, depending on the characteristics of the cultivated land and labor saving of farmers. In particular, the project not only helps farmers save many aspects but also helps to increase productivity by 3-12%. We will continue to recommend potentials for replication in locations where appropriate.”

Actual value recorded by people.

Student Nguyen Khanh Duy, Information Technology Department – Tra Vinh University, project member said: “The advantage of the system is the ability to automatically monitor the water level and warn when the water level exceeds the pumping threshold in many varieties. different rice. At the same time, with just a smartphone, the farmer can monitor the water level day by day, each stage of rice growth and control the pump remotely.”

For farmers, now they just open their phone to check and activate the pump when they need anytime and anywhere. The water level sensor is also more accurate than the naked eye.

“IoT technology helps to save more water and becomes more productive. The greater expectation is that the research team will further improve the technology so that the IoT technology will not only stop pumping out the fields but also analyze the pest situation in rice.”

Emphasizing the practical value of the project, Dr. Diep Thanh Tung, Head of the Faculty of Economics and Law of Tra Vinh University, said: “The Smart Farming project to support equipment for farmers is a necessary job. The Project Management Board will research and assist the borrowed cooperatives. The equipment used to replicate the model. At the same time, the Project Management Board is also looking forward to cooperating with VNSAT projects in the Mekong Delta provinces in the coming time.

The Smart Farming project has a great significance, helping farmers to apply new technology solutions to production, adapt to climate change and complicated weather events, contributing to increase productivity and rice yield, promoting agricultural economics development”

“The success of smart farming project is from the active support from businesses, organizations and individuals. Especially, the spirit of passion of students, lecturers and experts which helps Tra Vinh University’s Smart Farming Project Management Board has successfully implemented the project”, Associate Professor Pham Tiet Khanh, Rector of Tra Vinh University said.

MN