Anticipating the drought caused by El Nino is a big challenge for oil palm plantations. In mid- 2019, a long drought hit almost all over Indonesia and caused drought in certain areas. For oil palm plantations, this has a very big effect, especially in reducing production. Prolonged dry condition causes low production and slow down the fruit ripening process. Other than that, the dryness also reduces the number of fruit cluster. The decline in production can occur due to changes in the physiology of oil palm plants such as:

  1. decreased CO2 absorption rate
  2. nutrient deficiency
  3. decreasing rate of photosynthesis
  4. decreasing the rate of leaf midrib production
  5. decreased sex ratio (more male flowers)
  6. decreased number of fruit bunches
  7. increasing the fruit miscarriage
  8. decreasing the yield
  9. delaying the first harvest

The decrease in palm oil production reached 2% in September 2019. Serious handling has been carried out by several oil palm companies together with Mertani by installing several IoT Automatic Weather Stations at several plantation locations in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The accuracy of data collection on rainfall, temperature, and humidity can help measure the level of oil palm evapotranspiration so that the control of water requirements needed for oil palm plants can be adjusted to yield standards for harvesting.

To find out the level of evapotranspiration in oil palm, there are various parameters used in the
Automatic Weather Station, including:

  1. air temperature, (ideal oil palm 24oC to 28oC)
  2. humidity, (ideal humidity 80% -90%)
  3. light intensity, and
  4. wind speed (ideal 5 km/h – 6 km/h)

Besides reporting the level of evapotranspiration, these parameters also can be used as predictive data on pest and disease attacks on oil palm plants such as mites during dry conditions.

IoT Automatic Weather Station Mertani is also equipped with a soil sensor feature so that the actual ground conditions can be monitored. Observation of soil conditions is needed to adjust the treatment in order to improve soil fertility, such as pH and soil conductivity. With the integration of weather observations and soil conditions, the increasing in palm oil production can be achieved.

Today’s preference for tropical fruit consumption is very large, especially the demand from Europe and the United States. Pineapple is still one of the favorite tropical fruits that is preferred by foreign consumers. Pineapple exports have been encouraged by Indonesia given the large market demand. Indonesia currently ranks 9th out of the 10 largest pineapple producers in the world with a yield of 1.39 million tons per year.

As a precautionary measure and efforts to deal with weather transition, the quality and quantity
of production need to be maintained. Uncertain weather conditions and the shifting of the dry season to the rainy season can affect the physiology of pineapple plants. Basically, tropical plants are plants that tend to survive in dry conditions or season. It is proven that in 2019, pineapple farmers had their biggest harvest and it is predicted that the value of pineapple exports will increase by 30%.

Indonesia’s pineapple production center is located in Lampung, South Sumatra. It is managed by the largest pineapple producer company in Indonesia. Pineapple company cooperates with Mertani to facilitate the procurement of IoT Automatic Weather Station that will be used in pineapple plantations. Installation of Automatic Mertani IoT Weather Station on pineapple plantations aims to anticipate the physiological effects of pineapple plants due to extreme weather changes.

The rainy season can affect the growth of pineapple plants and directly affect production. The harvest quantity of pineapple will be decreased. Hence, it will affect the quality of pineapple which is known as one of the indicator of the harvest quality standard. Humid conditions can cause root decay of pineapple plants, thereby increasing the potential for crop failure. Pests and diseases will become more widespread due to conditions that are too humid. Preferably, before that happens, it is necessary to take precautionary and controlling measures earlier in land conditions.

“Pineapple production is currently at the peak of the harvest, but for the sake of future management, we need to do anticipation such as predicting the right weather conditions. What’s more, in the future, we will face the rainy season so the plants really need precise weather monitoring. The installation of the IoT Atomatic Weather Station hopefully will improve the conditioning process of our pineapple land. ”-General Manager at Pineapple Plantation-“

The rainy season at the beginning of the year brings major changes after a long dry season in the middle of the previous year. As a result, the environment drastically becomes very humid and water availability will be very abundant. The condition of agricultural land in the rainy season will be very troubled with many problems, from flooding on the land to the attack of plants by pests and diseases such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses.

Palm oil has an optimal water requirement of around 300-350 liters/stem/day. During the rainy season, the water demand limit is exceeded so that there is a pool of water on palm area. Puddle can trigger decay of palm roots and reducing production. Another thing that can happen is improper fertilization. The fertilizer will dissolve into puddles so it can’t be absorbed. If there is too much puddle, it can cause the root to rot and the appearance of fungus on the palm oil.

Mertani is conducting a project in controlling groundwater levels together with large palm oil plantations in Indonesia using the IoT Water Level which is placed on three land zones namely the upper, middle, and lower zones. Each block has an area of around 30 hectares. IoT Water Levels are placed on each zoning and are used to reach 130 palm oil trees per hectare.

IoT Water Level placed to measure groundwater level based on the actual range of groundwater at a predetermined time. This range of data is used by the manager to determine anticipation and also future projections regarding the treatment that must be carried out.

“Water Level is already commonly used by plantation companies, but it cannot be used optimally because it hasn’t been integrated with the IoT system, software, and storage in taking data. Some plantations have implemented Water Level of foreign products and the results are very different from what was expected. With careful consideration, plantation managers should be wise in choosing tools that suit their land conditions. The selection of domestic tools will also greatly help them in terms of the support services provided. For this reason, Mertani is ready to facilitate their needs. “-CEO of Mertani-

Land fire is a hot topic in mid-2019 and is the largest fire that has occurred after 2015. There’s a lot of discussion about the causes of forest and land fires. Differences of opinion through different perspectives have sprung up starting from the side of the government, the public as well as the disadvantaged corporation. The government considers this to be a disaster that happens every year and there is no clear point on the root of the problem.

Government statements will form public opinion. Media that deliver information also plays a crucial role in this regard. Many people blame the government. As for those who blame the corporations like some plantations and also many who argue that this is simply a natural disaster caused by a heatwave due to El Nino. How come?

Forests and burning land have the characteristic of peat soils. Peat soil is a water-saturated soil formed from the deposition of remnants of decayed plant tissue so that it reaches a thickness of 50 cm (Indonesian National Standard Design-R-SNI, National Certification Agency, 2013). Peat soils have the characteristic of being able to bind large amounts of water, but certain conditions make peat soils very easy to lose water content. At the level of macro water storage in peat soils, evaporation will very easily occur. In this process, water loss will very easily occur and automatically the peat soil will be very dry. The abundant content of organic matter in peat soil illustrates the amount of carbon content (C-organic) so that in long dry conditions, hot and dry air can ignite a fire that triggers a fire.

Determination of groundwater level on peat lands is regulated in Peraturan Menteri No. 337 Tahun 2017 concerning Procedures for Measuring Groundwater in Peat Ecosystem Arrangement Points. Article 5 of the Ministerial Regulation states that there are two ways to measure groundwater levels, namely manual and automatic. In that article, manual measurements of groundwater levels can be done using a measuring rod, whereas automatic measurements are carried out using a data logger.

The role of groundwater data collection using IoT Water Level will be very important when compared with manual measurement. The existence of IoT Water Level technology allows measurement of groundwater level everyday. IoT Water Level can be adjusted according to land conditions. The use of IoT Water Level can increase operational efficiency by up to 30%. A practical way to find groundwater level data only through a user’s mobile or PC.

The use of IoT (Internet of Things) in agriculture has been applied by the world community. One of them is implemented in the United States. An emerging trend regarding the use of IoT in the country is the use of robots as a substitute for farmer labor. The robot, known as farm robot, is able to replace the role of humans in watering, planting, and providing fertilizer. Farmers can operate their farm robots via smartphones.

While in California, plantation companies are developing drones that can detect soil fertility. The main purpose of using these drones is to reduce crop failure. Through a sensor, the drone is able to detect the presence of weeds in the soil.

In China, in 2016 a four-year plan was launched to combine IoT with agriculture with the aim of
increasing profits. Pilot projects began in 8 provinces by introducing 426 applications, technology, and products.

Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria have implemented IoT on their plantations. The technologies ease plantation companies’ work by providing data directly to managers via mobile and the web. In other words, plantation companies can get direct information related to weather and market conditions as well as providing accessibility to share agricultural information between plantation companies’ communities. For low-income and illiterate plantation companies or those who are still applying traditional farming methods, accessing and sharing such information can help them to know what crops to grow, when to plant them, how to fertilize, Eventually, this increase their yields and income

In Australia, the government has supported smart farming by allocating AU$ 60 million. The recipients of these funds are agricultural businesses that work with “new technology societies” and therefore can propose solutions to improve the status of land, plants and protect biodiversity. A center created by private companies along with public organizations opened in Sydney to develop IoT technology for precision agriculture.

Many countries in Europe have started their steps to implement IoT in their agriculture. In Ireland, the IFA (Irish Farmers Association) in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency has launched a program that is adjusted for each participating farm to reduce costs and increase soil productivity, save energy and water, adopt new technologies, and optimize asset management. The French Ministry of Agriculture, Research and Economics in collaboration with the 2025 Agriculture Innovation project aims to strengthen research on agricultural land and climate, develop agricultural accuracy and create incubators to promote the development of innovation in the area. More specifically, € 4 million has been allocated in a year to develop technology to support effective health prevention. Italy, since 2017, has been carrying out a move to support IoT with a hyper-amortization measure that is also related to the purchase of technology for agriculture 4.0.