USC teams bag 2 final slots in Farmer Entrepreneurship Program
After five months of engagement in their respective projects, which included site visits, needs assessment, prototyping, and deployment, two teams from USC, Teams Bukad and Catalyst, made it to the finals in Jollibee Group Foundation’s Farmer Entrepreneurship Program Youth Challenge.
Three finalists were chosen out of the 20 projects carried out by the students who came from seven participating universities in the Philippines. This announcement came last June 20, 2018 in Metro Manila.
Team Bukad’s project is a two-way-powered dryer system which is composed of a drying chamber and a heat trapper and utilizes the heat of the Sun. The chamber is equipped with an alternative heat source when there is insufficient heat coming from the sunlight that is absorbed in the trapper. The chamber and trapper also has a control system which monitors their temperature up to 60°C for efficient drying operation. This dryer system is faster than conventional solar drying because of an exhaust fan situated at the bottom of the design to keep the chamber unsaturated with water vapor. It also prevents contamination, preserve flavor of the produce, and lessen nutrient degradation.
On the other hand, Team Catalyst’s project is an LED agricultural dome system that was used to find the optimal photoperiod for growing lettuce plants. A photoperiod refers to the time period that a plant receives illumination. The project used an open type system with the use of LED lights managed by control circuits to extend the photoperiod of the lettuce plants into the night. The lights were installed onto farming domes made of bamboo covered with a layer of mesh and another layer of UV plastic. Results of the project found that with the integration of this engineering innovation, a 24-hour photoperiod, i.e., 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of artificial light, could increase leaf count, improve the overall quality of growth and structure of lettuce, as well as shorten harvest times. Plans are already made to increase the number of set-ups to cater to a larger land area.
Judges’ assessment of the projects will commence in July and will include observation of the projects on-site and its validation through focus group discussions and interviews with the farmers. Announcement of the grand winner will be on August 29, 2018.
Meanwhile, the third USC team Bungkal who qualified (see related story here) had a mechanical equipment that is capable of tilling the soil and transplanting seedlings simultaneously. The machine uses a multi-purpose apparatus that is equipped with two systems that can help the farmers' work more efficiently by using a steel roller to till the crop beds for re-planting and a transplanter that organizes the seedling set-up. The project aimed to lessen the time and manual labor needed to prepare the land for re-planting, and the long and tedious process required for transplanting the seedlings individually. Proponents of the project will continue to improve the design and hope to commercialize it despite its not being chosen as a finalist in the Youth Challenge.