Machine enthusiast brings technology to gardening

June 10, 2018 - 09:00

Nguyễn Quốc Huy from the Central Highlands province of Lâm Đồng invented a device, which enables farmers to operate their irrigation system with just a message sent from their mobile phone.

Lush: Huy’s family’s garden now covers 10,000 square metres under various kinds of crops, including cauliflower, carrot, avocado and coffee. Photos courtesy of Nguyễn Quốc Huy.
Viet Nam News

By Hồng Vân

When Nguyễn Quốc Huy was small, he loved wandering around the scrap pile, searching for the materials he needed for his self-made miniature machines.

When he grew up, his passion for machines and engines carried on and led him to seek vocational training in mechanics where he could use the knowledge he gained to realize his childhood dream: to invent some device that can make farmers’ work easier.

The 22-year-old from the Central Highlands province of Lâm Đồng now serves more than 30 customers with his device, which enables farmers to operate their irrigation system with just a message sent from their mobile phone.

“With this device, farmers can turn on/off the watering system even if they are miles away from their fields, just using the mobile phone with the phone service,” Huy said.

He has successfully used the device in the irrigation system for his family’s  3,000 square metre garden which grows a number of crops, including carrot, cauliflower, avocado and coffee.

Before the device was made available, his family had to either spend VNĐ150,000 per day to hire a worker to water the plants or do it by themselves under the scorching heat of the highlands region.

For a period of 36 months, including 12 months of rainy season, his family had to be on hand to water their plants for the entire 24 months. If they rented workers, the watering costs could be around VNĐ54 million.

Meanwhile, Huy’s device costs only around VNĐ33 million.

The device can be used for fields or gardens of various sizes. 

“For the large fields, we just need to put more valves,” Huy said.

With the availability of the new device, Huy’s family has expanded their garden to 10,000sq.m.

The success of the device is thanks to his passion for invention and his short course in vocational training.

“Since I was a child, I have had a special curiosity and interest in machines,” Huy said.

“When I got home from school, I would go to the scrap pile to look for used machines, studying them and using the old materials to make toys for myself,” he said.

Convenient: Huy’s device enables farmers to control their irrigation system with a mobile phone.

After graduating from high school, Huy studied to become a refrigeration technician in HCM City.

“During my study at the vocational school, I learned about automation in air conditioning techniques and realised that the knowledge I acquired from this can be used to create a mobile phone control system for a water pumping system,” he said.

“What’s more, I had been growing up in Đà Lạt in a family working mostly in farming. I knew the job very well and understood that my parents and the local farmers must have been through lots of hard labour, especially in watering,” said Huy.

Huy had the first idea about the device when he was in his second year at the vocational school and decided to realise it when he graduated.

“When I told my parents and friends about the plan, everyone said it would be impossible,” Huy said.

Yet he still persuaded his parents to invest VNĐ30 million in his project.

After three months, the young machine enthusiast successfully used his device in his family’s garden.

Farmers will set a watering time and location in advance and just need to send a message to the irrigation system when they want their plants watered. The system then sends a confirmation message.

In case there are any unexpected incidents, such as the electricity being cut off, a shortage of water or the pipeline getting broken, the system will send farmers a warning message and halt work automatically. A single system can be connected with five different phone numbers.

Huy’s father, Nguyễn Thế Vinh, said, “In the old days, we had to stick close to the garden. When we were away from home, we had to ask acquaintances to water and take care of the plants. Yet now things have become a lot easier with the device. We don’t need to be in the garden all the time.”

In 2017, the device was awarded second runner-up prize at the provincial invention contest.

Currently Huy is working as an electrician in his hometown of Đà Lạt City in Lâm Đồng Province and also supports his parents with their  work.

He’s also working on his next project -- a multi-functional machine that can spray pesticides, plow the fields and grow coffee plants. -- VNS