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Hi-tech device to fetch tea data

- Wireless sensor network to phase out manual collection in gardens

Jorhat, May 27: The tea industry was today offered a device to capture field data automatically with the help of a wireless sensor network, the use of which will end back-breaking and time-consuming manual collection of data from the field.

“The project is a major technical leap for the tea industry as no such attempt has been made so far,” chairman of the Tea Research Association, D.P. Maheshwari, told The Telegraph at Meleng tea estate on the outskirts of Jorhat town. The device was demonstrated to the tea planters of the region in the garden.

The system — wireless sensors networks for decision support in tea plantations — has been developed jointly by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Calcutta, and Tocklai Experimental Station. It is sponsored by the department of electronics and information technology, Government of India.

The deputy director of Tea Research Association, R.M. Bhagat, said after successfully testing the system at Tocklai’s experimental garden, it was decided to disseminate information among planters. “We have arranged this field demonstration at Meleng tea estate so that the planters understand the importance of the device,” Bhagat, under whose guidance the device was developed, said.

Explaining the importance of the device, the director of Tocklai Experimental Station, N. Muraleedharan, said availability of accurate data, preferably on a regular basis, is very important for sustainability of a tea garden.

“It takes time to get an accurate measurement of soil moisture, soil temperature, leaf temperature, vapour, pressure, sunshine hours and others in a tea estate and by the time the results are available the farm operations are already under way or completed. The use of the device will enable the planters to get accurate data at the click of a button,” Muraleedharan said.

He said the quick decision at the tea estate level can increase production of quality tea. According to Bhagat, the device, which has a camera, will enable estate managers to keep tabs on pest attacks, diseases, quality of pruning, use of right quantity of fertilisers and other activities in the garden. “It will be an eye for a manager to keep a close watch on the tea estate and he can maintain an accurate requirement vis-à-vis fertilisers and pesticides”.

The system will be run on solar panel and will also have a battery back-up system.

The additional vice-chairman of the TRA, Prabhat Bezboruah, said it was a path-breaking effort by the association and C-DAC to extend the scope of use of electronics to the tea estate.

Bezboruah, who himself is a planter, said any tool that helps solve problems in a garden is always welcome and the planters would definitely acquire such devices.

A C-DAC official said the cost of the device for a 300-hectare garden would be between Rs 700,000 and Rs 800,000.


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