Resilience in energy, cooling, horticulture innovations


Poonpipope Kasemsap, the director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab Regional Center at Kasetsart University, presented about ways that horticulture innovations can contribute to resilience at the Horticulture Innovation Lab's 2018 annual meeting on May 9, 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda. 

Solar energy and efficiency opportunities

In the presentation, he highlights the need for disruptive technologies and discusses the importance of collaboration and creativity as key to devising solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Kasemsap points to news stories that reveal solar power is becoming more important and costs are lowering, including an article about a 300-megawatt solar panel plant that was bid to run at 1.7 cents/kilowatt hour (KWh) and another article about a 100-megawatt solar array with 30-megawatt storage system that is estimated to cost about 4.5 cents/KWh. Though solar energy is increasingly becoming cheaper and thus, more accessible. However, 1.2 billion people throughout the world still lack access to basic electricity. 

Kasemsap summarizes resilience for farmers as increasing productivity and reducing risk, which can include innovations that:

  • Increase the value of products and services
  • Increase the efficiency of crop production with which products and services are produced, including with regards to labor, water, fertilizer, and other resources. For example, this might include improvements to seed systems, available germplasm, sustainable production, and drying technologies.
  • Reduce losses and risks. For example, this could include tomato grafting, reducing postaharvest losses, improving food safety and advancing nutrition. 

Cool room monitoring and warning systems

The Horticulture Innovation Lab Regional Center at Kasetsart University has been developing monitoring and warning systems that can be used with CoolBot cold rooms. 

Using a cold room can increases the value of produce by maintaining freshness and quality, but the costs of running a cold room includes the cost of electricity. So learning conditions that affect the cold room performance and efficiency, such as the frequency of opening and closing the door, duration of door opening, and the cooling time of new produce will help them improve power use efficiency and costs.

The team is working with three models of cool room monitoring: one that is online, one that is off-line (in-person), and another that uses short message services (SMS) texting.

The SMS warning system provides warnings by SMS in relation to a single temperature point inside the cool room and can also provide warning based on voltage.

The off-line, in-person system tracks temperature of the coolroom at five points inside plus one point outside of the room. It also tracks relative humidity inside and outside of the room, voltage, current, and records when the door opens and closes. An LED screen provides real-time information, while data is logged every minute with a time stamp, and a buzzer can alert users to issues with temperature or voltage.

The online version of the system tracks the same data points as the off-line version, but with the addition of a website for real-time viewing and email warning systems.