The National Institute for Science Technology and Innovation (NISTI) in Seychelles is in the process of testing a solar-powered pesticide sprayer that it has developed for farmers.
The prototype took four years to develop. It has been put through various stages of testing by technicians from the institute and is now being used on a farm.
"Conventional sprayer causes user fatigue due to excessive bulky and heavy construction. This motivated us to design and fabricate a model that is a solar sprayer in our design. Here we can eliminate the back mounting of the sprayer ergonomically which is not good from a farmer's health point of view during spraying. In this way here we can reduce the users' fatigue level," explained Xavier Estico, the chief executive of NISTI.
Estico who was peaking last week on the farm where the sprayer is being tested added that with the solar-powered sprayer there will be the elimination of the engine of fuel operated spray pumps resulting in a reduction in vibrations and noise. "The elimination of fuel will make our spraying system eco-friendly."
"At NISTI, we try to look at every sector where we can incorporate technology to make the life of the operator easier," he said, adding "this invention can be used largely on bigger farms where we can implement the design and concept and turn all pesticide sprayers solar operated."
The system consists of a solar panel, charging unit, battery, pump and sprayer. The solar panel charges the battery which in turn operates a monitor through a nozzle thereby creating a spray.
The chief executive explained that it takes under an hour to charge the battery using solar energy. However, in case of bad weather, the user can always charge it by electricity, which takes about four hours.
The design features a user-friendly low weight component to operate with longevity for desired product efficiency that provides less vibration than a fuel-powered sprayer.
"This invention can be used largely on bigger farms where we can implement the design and concept and turn all pesticide sprayers solar operated," said Estico.
The CEO added that he wants Seychelles - 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - to move forward in the fourth industrial revolution by bringing innovation not only to the farms but in all sectors.
For now, the solar-powered sprayer is only a prototype that NISTI will continue to improve on. It was demonstrated last week at MNL Farm, Montagne Posée where Nathaline Labrosse has been using the contraption on her farm for over three weeks.
"The solar-powered sprayer is very useful because it does not require a person to pump it manually like we were doing before. It sprays longer distances as well," explained the farmer.
Labrosse added that it usually takes her close to an hour to spray her farm with the manual sprayer, but with the solar-powered one it takes her only 15 minutes. Labrosse explained that spending less time on spraying allows her to do other things on the farm as there is always a lot to do.
Another farmer, Gabriel Prudence, told SNA that innovation and technology in agriculture are what is needed on the island nation for a sector that has not been well developed.