Climate change has become a serious concern for society, particularly in the agrocomplex sector. Fluctuating temperatures and unpredictable rainfall patterns pose significant challenges, threatening the sustainability of agriculture and livestock farming. In an effort to address these impacts, Muchamad Muchlas, a lecturer at the Faculty of Animal Husbandry, Universitas Brawijaya, along with his two mentored students, Razzaqi Hatmawira and Yehezkiel Reynard Wibowo, have successfully created an innovation called ECOGRASS.
Muchlas, currently pursuing a doctoral program at Chonnam National University, found that exposing plants to mild drought stress can result in superior characteristics, especially drought tolerance. “Plants subjected to mild drought priming can alter their genetic code through genetic imprinting modulation, where stress memory arising from mild drought exposure can make plants more prepared to face future drought stress,” explained Muchlas.
Collaborating with Razzaqi Hatmawira (Animal Husbandry/2022) and Yehezkiel Reynard Wibowo (Electrical Engineering/2022), they designed “ECOGRASS,” a management system that can simulate mild drought priming events to enhance the resistance of livestock feed crops during the dry season.
Dr. Ir. Eko Widodo, M. Agr. Sc. (Vice Dean III, Faculty of Animal Husbandry, Universitas Brawijaya), Razzaqi Hatmawira (Animal Husbandry/2022)
ECOGRASS: Advanced IoT-Based Solution
ECOGRASS is an innovative Internet of Things (IoT)-based solution that can monitor the status and health of livestock feed crops through a comprehensive array of sensors. Equipped with special actuators, this system can limit the amount of water given to plants for several days, applying mild drought priming treatment.
Yehezkiel Reynard Wibowo, the main designer of the ECOGRASS system, explained, “ECOGRASS not only provides monitoring but also actively manages the plant environment to create conditions that trigger drought tolerance. This can enhance the availability of fresh forage for small-scale farmers during challenging times, such as prolonged drought seasons.”
Achievements and Future Plans
The ECOGRASS prototype has reached a significant development stage and even won a silver medal in the 1st International Paper Competition of the Faculty of Science and Technology, UIN AR-Raniry Riau, conducted online. Razzaqi Hatmawira, the team leader of ECOGRASS, expressed hopes of further refining the prototype to achieve its primary goal: assisting small-scale farmers who face difficulties in obtaining fresh forage.
With this breakthrough, Muchamad Muchlas and his team hope to make a positive contribution in tackling the challenges of climate change in the agrocomplex sector. Innovations like ECOGRASS demonstrate that collaboration between lecturers and students can yield intelligent solutions that support the sustainability of agriculture and livestock farming in these challenging times. (dfh)