Asst. Prof. Dr. Duangrit Benjathikul Chairungruang, Secretary to the Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) as the ministry spokesperson has led a team of researchers from MHESI organizations: National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR) and Center of Excellence in Agriculture Innovation through Supply Chain and Value Chain, Thammasat University, to visit to help Durian farmers in Nonthaburi, Thailand
The farmers encounter the saltwater intrusion resulting in agricultural issues, and using innovations from NSTDA, TISTR and TU including nanotechnology for water purification, water quality monitoring system with the mobile application will allow the real-time monitoring, seawater desalination system as well as fertilizers that give durians sweet creamy flavour and rich and smooth texture with a floral scent and soluble fibres.
The biggest problem was that local farmers had been affected by the saltwater intrusion causing the agricultural problems and they expected assistance from MHESI to bring technology and innovation to solve this issue.
TISTR will use arbuscular mycorrhiza to help improve salt stress and drought resistance. These fungi also enhance durian productivity, along with their own developed desalination filter to desalinate seawater from freshwater in durian plantations. While NSTDA will set up the water quality monitoring system with a mobile application that can be monitored at all times.
TU will regulate the plant root salinity defence mechanism to desalinate seawater from freshwater and allow the plant roots to find the nutrients from the proper areas which would improve the growth and resistance from drought and salt stress.
MHESI Secretary continued that besides solving the saltwater intrusion, MHESI had other technologies that are beneficial for durian cost reduction, productivity and quality enhancement. To help farmers TU and NSTDA would deploy these technologies.
Some of these technologies are IoT-based smart irrigation systems to manage water distribution in appropriate quantity from root transpiration and absorption that is dynamic in terms of temperature, humidity, transpiration and evaporation rate to save water and energy; Basin-Fertigation to increase the efficient use of water and fertilizers to increase fruit yield and give the sweet creamy flavor, rich and smooth texture with floral scent and soluble fibers to durians; Active bagging technology for the highest quality fruit packaging, Water management forecast for plantation according to Global GAP, Technology for fruit packaging materials that allows air flow through the package and smart irrigation controller and sensor via surrounding factors etc.