Microsoft added an award for Rural Innovation for the first time to its Imagine Cup competition this year, and it attracted a number of projects aimed at solving problems faced by people in developing nations.
A finalist in the Rural Innovation category has developed a novel way to help farmers in India determine the nutrients in their soil and figure out which crops would be best planted there. The conventional approach to farming is to assume all the fields in an area are the same, so one-size-fits all crop management systems are used. But the reality is that fields can vary considerably, and without the right data, a lot of resources can be wasted, said team Novices@Work.
They invented a system they call Kalpvriksha, which uses wireless sensor networks to collect data on soil characteristics such as moisture, pH, ambient light and temperature. The system then takes this and other information into account to help farmers make decisions on how best to water crops, what kinds of fertilizer to use, and more. The result is more, healthier crops.
"Our technology is specifically aimed at bettering the standards of living of grass-root workers," said Krunal Dedhia, a member of Novices@Work. "It addresses the problem of low productivity and salination of land due to excessive use of fertilizers. These problems are all a culmination of lack of awareness amongst people."
Novices@Work, a team of finalists for the Imagine Cup Rural Innovation Award from India. They developed a site-specific crop-management system for farmers called Kalpvriksha.
Novices@Work has deployed the system in a small field in India, but it will take time to obtain results. They hope to expand the system throughout India and beyond with the help of grassroots organizations.
Video: Kalpvriksha Demo
Networld 08/07/2008 Microsoft Imagine Cup attracts projects aimed at poor
Unlimited Potential World Updates 30/06 Adressing food shortages in India