ITS Campus, ITS News – The population growth rate is still steadily increasing even though available agriculture spaces keep disappearing. Because of this problem, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS) Spektronics Team developed hydrocolloid-based plant growing media as an innovation for agricultural business in urban areas. Due to this innovation, they won a silver medal at the 2021 World Invention and Technology Expo (WINTEX) event, last Sunday (28/11).
Alifah Salsabila, a team member, revealed that the Indonesian Invention and Innovation Promotion Association (INNOPA) organized this event online and directly in Denpasar, Bali. In this event, there were 23 participating countries besides Indonesia. “Among them are Korea, Japan, the United States, and many more,” said Alifah.
Focusing on research on agricultural land issues that impact the availability of adequate food nutrition for the community, the Spektronics Team, with a team representative named SP’NTECH, presented Future Massive-Vertical Hydrocolloid Urban Farming (HyVi). Because of the hydrocolloid, HyVi doesn’t need any pesticides or non-organic fertilizers to use. “HyVi is also equipped with remarkable features such as automatic irrigation every 12 days with the help of auto-watering and light-control sensors,” explained this ITS Chemical Engineering Department student.
By using HyVi plant growing media, Alifah added, plants will grow faster with better quality. Fast production makes it more accessible to many levels of communities because of the frequent flow of distribution chains. Thus, HyVi can help solve the problem of malnutrition in Indonesia. “Massive plant production can absorb carbon dioxide to reduce global warming,” she said.
The quality of vegetables produced by HyVi is also projected to be maintained because it can overcome the problem of disturbing pathogens when plants are planted on the ground. According to Alifah, HyVi uses polyacrylate agar to reduce plant damage caused by bacteria and fungi. “We made this polyacrylate material from Gracilaria sp and Potassium polyacrylate powder and added nutrients; therefore, we can maintain this media sterile,” explained her.
In addition, she added, polyacrylate makes it more water-efficient in the planting process with consistent production quality results in the same batch. Later, HyVi will have segmentation for vegetable farmers in urban areas with plant types that have fibrous roots and do not grow too tall. “Just like lettuce and mustard greens,” explained Alifah.
Regarding the type of competition that is different from most Spektronics research projects, Alifah said that the non-technical team from Spektronics participated. Together with Silma Elvaretta Aska as team leader, Fauzan Agra Ibrahim, and Ulfiyah Afnian Sari, a brilliant idea was born to deal with the problem of land shortages, which is very critical and fatal for the next generation if not addressed immediately. “The support of ITS and the sponsors, namely PT Air Products, Altekimits, PT Pembangkit Jawa Bali (PJB), and other sponsors, made us able to get a silver medal in this agriculture category,” said Alifah gratefully.
According to Alifah, her team’s research that started last September has received praise from the jury because it is relatively new and convincing. The positive feedbacks are because there are still very few hydrocolloid-based growing media. “In the future, there is no definite plan, but some of our colleagues are interested in developing it to the business stage,” she concluded. (nadh/ITS PR)
Reporter: Astri Nawwar Kusumaningtyas
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