Taking Urban Farming to the Next Level

URBAN farming has taken a quantum leap in USJ13 with the introduction of the internet of things to take it to the next step of producing good quality fruits and vegetables in the community.

Automated farming takes over at the newly built greenhouse which now sits on the former conventional farming plot. The new approach makes farming a piece of cake for the residents who have signed up to take the first step into a whole new world of Kebun Komuniti.

USJ13 resident Abdul Jalil Mohamed who is spearheading this pioneering project in an urban environment is confident of achieving success in reaping better quality crops while totally cutting out the need to use pesticides and soil.

“This greenhouse is fully automated and the equipment we have installed monitors the temperature and humidity of the facility; and even the concentration of fertilisers used is monitored and regulated to provide maximum boost for our crops.”

“All we have to do is regularly check the system. We need to check the tubing which supplies water to the plants to make sure it flows uninterrupted,” he said, adding that Dutch buckets are used to house the plants.

According to Abd Jalil, the joint venture between USJ13 Rukun Tetangga and MSD Innovation Sdn Bhd is a 3-year program which involves a build-operate-handover understanding.

“MSD Innovations has invested in building the greenhouse and installed the infrastructure to start planting. USJ13RT backs it up by providing electricity, water and internet connection.”

“The profits from the yield over the first 3 years will be shared equally between the company and USJ13RT. Once the 3 years expires, the whole system including the greenhouse will be handed over to USJ13RT to operate,” he said.

Abd Jalil said the greenhouse was expected to be able to accommodate four cycles of planting high value crops.

“We have already started planting two varieties of rock melon here. These are the Glamour Melon and Permai 5 Melon. We have 250 plants here and we are going to allow one to two fruits to grow to maturity for each plant.”

“The rock melons are expected to be harvested about 65-70 days after they are transplanted into the Dutch buckets,” he added.

Comparing conventional farming and that which has been started in USJ13, Abd Jalil said the time taken for each batch to grow and bear fruit is the same.

“The difference is in a greenhouse, you don’t need to use pesticides. For a greenhouse it’s a one-off cost to set it up. After that the cost is minimal.”

“We are identifying high value crops to plant each cycle. This includes chili and tomatoes which are in high demand,” he said, adding that because the greenhouse was self-contained, man would have to be the pollinators for the flowers since insects were no longer able to enter the facility.

USJ13 RT chairman Kelvin Chew said residents who had volunteered to participate in the program helped in monitoring the system and also learning about it.

“Volunteers are at the greenhouse on most days to help with checking the water flow and also the growth of the plants. They have also started conventional farming beside the greenhouse as part of their own initiative.”

“We are looking forward to harvesting our first crop in about a month’s time. The fruits will be sold to residents,” Kelvin said.