UGM students propose solution to frost problem on Dieng farms

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Kholishotul Ma’rifah and his team find a solution to problem of frost damaging farmers’ yield. (photo: UGM Public Relations)

IO, Yogyakarta – By the end of June, frost, or what is known by the local Javanese farmers as embun upas starts to appear on vegetation in Dieng Plateau, Central Java. The frost is a result of below-freezing temperatures in the area.

The daily appearance of the frost impacts agriculture in Dieng. Various vegetables grown in the area, such as potatoes, carrots, cabbages, chili and tomatoes are covered in it.

When the frost starts to appear, farmers will usually spray their produce in an attempt to melt the frozen water stuck to the plants. However, such spraying results in drainage stress and also increases the chance of pests and diseases.

“Spraying young plants causes stem/branch/leaf damage, because the frost and irrigation water adds to the weight of the plant,” explained Kholishotul Ma’rifah, a student from the Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering, Faculty of Agricultural Technology (DTPB FTP), UGM, on Monday (1/7) in the FTP UGM Campus as quoted by UGM Public Relations.

According to Ma’rifah, spraying plants in the morning was also very critical, depending on a farmer’s schedule, whereas irrigation needs to be done slowly, a little at a time, and according to the specific water needs of the plant.

After observing this problem, Ma’rifah and two colleagues from his department; Setiyawati, and Denis Tio Yudhistira, together with Muhammad Fiqi Rohman from a Vocational School sought a solution. The students eventually found a method which they called Frost Mist Irrigation Prevention or MISI HEMPAS, which aims to increase the agricultural yield of Dieng farmers. The technology used was born from the Student Creativity Program -Technology (PKM-T) and was carried out under the guidance of Dr. Ngadisih.

Ma’rifah stated that the MISI HEMPAS method had already been implemented by the Tamansari Farmers Group in Leksana Village, Karangkobar, Banjarnegara. The tools needed had been installed in a farm owned by Sugiyanto, one of the Tamansari Group’s members, on Tuesday (25/6). The 2m x 3m area had chilies planted in it and was given an automatic sprinkle irrigation system, while another area was used as a control using a manual spraying irrigation system.

The automatic sprinkle irrigation system was created using a water pump to move water from the reservoir. The water pump was connected to an Arduino Uno-based microcontroller equipped with a DHT11 sensor to read temperature and humidity. The automatic mode uses a 1 pin relay which functions as a switch and is connected between the pump and the microcontroller.

According to Ma’rifah, the sprinkle irrigation system was tested in the UGM Land and Water Resources Engineering laboratory and showed a droplet uniformity of 80%. The irrigation system was set to turn on when the air temperature fell below 10 degrees C and the humidity was more than 80%. The system would then turn off when the opposite was recorded.

“With this method, the hope is that it can help farmers in Dieng overcome the frost problem which will result in their yield being maintained,” said Ma’rifah. (est)