- Pioneering technologies to better study Lingzhi mushroom cultivation
- 5G network is deployed to support agriculture with IoT and machine learning
- The project aims to increase annual yield and farmer revenue in cold climates
May 19, 2022 – dtac, together with Chaipattana Foundation and the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC, under the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), announced a major breakthrough in their quest to farm Lingzhi mushrooms in single-digit temperatures (off-season) through 5G networks on 700 MHz spectrum equipped with internet of things (IoT) and machine learning (ML) technology. This collaboration is enabling researchers to collect important data about cultivation factors and record high-resolution multispectral images for crop inspection. The partnership, continuing to focus on Lingzhi mushroom cultivation, also brings in the expertise of a new academic partner, the National Biobank. The resulting knowledge and expertise will be passed on to farmers in cold-weather areas, sustainably raising their quality of life and revenue.
The medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidium, commonly called Lingzhi, offers a high commercial value of 2,000 baht per kilogram for dried Lingzhi and 20,000 baht per kilogram for their spores. However, it grows best in warm conditions between 7–10 degrees Celsius. In a place like Chiang Mai, Lingzhi mushrooms can be cultivated in all but the winter months of November to February, when temperatures hover at 7–10 degrees Celsius and is too cold for them to flourish. The joint research project aims to make off-season cultivation and high yields possible, enabling farmers to grow Lingzhi mushrooms all year round.
dtac, Chaipattana Foundation and NECTEC teamed up in 2020 to create a pilot farm of smart greenhouses using dtac’s 5G network to support the full potential for IoT and machine learning (ML) applications at Chaipattana Foundation’s agricultural research and development site at Pong Nam Ron sub-district, Fang district, in Chiang Mai province. The collaborative research findings will be applied to large-scale farms, increasing revenue and margins for Thai farmers.
IoT devices – carbon dioxide meters, lux light meters and high-resolution cameras – generate significant data that allows farmers to grow Lingzhi more precisely by forecasting important factors such as air quality, temperature, humidity and light. All datasets are displayed through a purpose-built mobile application, enabling farmers to generate higher yields.
Anutra Wannaviroj, director of the Chaipattana Foundation’s Highland Agriculture Research and Development Project, said “Technology has become an integral role in agricultural development, by applying technologies in various aspects of farming, such as crop management, energy consumption and marketing. This is aligned with the challenges Thai farmers will face in the future, especially climate change. The foundation hopes that communications technology like the IoT will help address productivity problems in greenhouse farming.”
Prathet Tankuranun, Chief Technology Officer of dtac, said, “We bring our technological expertise in 5G development to make Lingzhi mushroom farming more precise and effective. dtac is a part of the project’s network design and IoT device installation, as well as the 5G network expansion on the 700 Mhz spectrum. Additionally, we also support the cloud system that stores all data related to cultivation research and have developed a mobile application to help researchers monitor and understand that data.”
In addition to data generated by various sensors, having detailed images throughout the mushroom growth cycle allows researchers to assess the size, shape and colour of the Lingzhi mushrooms and determine their quality. To facilitate this, dtac also provided the installation of high-resolution multispectral cameras.
dtac hopes this use case will raise public awareness about the potential of 5G to grow and diversify the Thai economy, as well as tackle the agricultural challenges of climate change.
“dtac is pleased to be showcasing 5G technology, especially in a project linked to agriculture, which requires specialized knowledge for product development. In addition, we hope that these research findings will be useful for Thai farmers who wish to diversify into controlled environment agriculture. dtac is also privileged to continue its long-term research and development partnerships with Chaipattana Foundation and NSTDA,” added Mr. Prathet
Thanks to these 5G and IoT solutions, researchers have been able to measure carbon dioxide and illumination levels, as well study greenhouse images between December 2021 and February 2022. This data gathering and analysis have translated into mature mushroom yields that are similar to in-season levels, when temperatures range between 25 and 28 degree Celsius. This success is an important step towards climate-change resilience in the agriculture sector.
Chai Wutiwiwatchai, Executive Director of the NSTDA, said that the sensors, IoT cloud platform and cameras together have had a profound effect on the project. And with the simulation capabilities of the mobile app, the research team has been able to scale up the research and apply it across the greenhouse farm, under the responsibility of National Biobank (also under NSTDA).
“This collaboration is another milestone for agricultural research in the real world amid numerous digital challenges. Data is a critical part of artificial intelligence, while a reliable, fast network is like the blood veins of data transfer. Partnering with Chaipattana Foundation and dtac will foster a strong digital ecosystem for the public good. It will allow every stakeholder to achieve their organizational vision via advanced technology and propel us towards a stronger Thailand” said Mr. Chai.
Dnuja Sindhvananda, Member and Deputy Secretary-General of the Chaipattana Foundation, together with dtac’s Chief Technology Officer Prathet Tankuranun and NSTDA’s Executive Director Chai Wutiwiwatchai, visited the IoT-based automated greenhouse farm at Chaipattana Foundation’s highland agricultural research and development site at Pong Nam Ron sub-district, Fang district, in Chiang Mai province. The greenhouse project uses 5G technology on the 700 MHz spectrum to support the high-yield precision farming of valuable Lingzhi mushrooms.