UiTM Sarawak Research Showcasing Soil- Crop Nutrient Management Using Digital Technology

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Sarawak Branch and four other local universities were honoured to be invited to showcase their research project outputs during the launching of the 1st Sarawak Centexs-SDEC 5G Test Bed or Sarawak Digital Economy Openlab at CENTEXS Santubong, launched by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on 14 August 2020. These projects had been awarded research grants in 2019 from the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) with the purpose to enhance research and development (R&D) for digital transformation in various industries in Sarawak.

During the showcase, Associate Professor Dr. Hasmah Mohidin, the leader for the project entitles “High-Resolution Digital Soil-Crop Nutrient Mapping for Crop Management in Sarawak” had explained to the Chief Minister and other visitors the importance of their research which will be able to significantly reduce the length of time and cost of assessing certain nutrients in the soil so as to produce more and high quality production of pineapples in Sarawak.

Mapping of soil properties at certain interval could ensure sufficient provision of macronutrients for optimum agricultural produce. Use of drone with different imaging capabilities are fairly wide, overcoming time consuming and laborious laboratory analysis. This data collection process can be digitally simplified by employing a drone equipped with the multispectral sensors to scan the plot areas, as opposed to using the existing method of manually extracting sample of soils in various fields, and then sending the soil for analysis in the lab. This process is even more laborious when there are hundreds, if not thousands of hectares of plots to be examined for the pineapple crop health monitoring. An integrated sensor which combines the detection of water scarcity, soil characteristics and the crop nutrient status will ensure optimum productivity of agricultural produce, improve product quality, and protect the environment.

Currently, about 2 hectares of land with more than 45,000 MD2 pineapple  planted in the UiTM Sarawak Branch Samarahan Campus has been transformed into mini pineapple plantation for soil crop nutrition research purposes.