‘Barefoot engineer’ invents automatic watering system

VietNamNet Bridge - Cao Phat Trien, a farmer in Mekong River Delta, has created a system which sprays and waters his orchard automatically, thus helping cut production cost and get higher profit.


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Cao Phat Trien and his automatic watering system

Trien, who lives in Can Tho City, grows mandarins on 0.8 hectares of land. He harvested 17 tons of mandarin this crop. With the average selling price of VND30,000 per kilo, he earned VND500 million.

“My wife and I did not have to spend much time to water the orchard. We stayed at home and regulated the watering system with our smartphones,” Trien said. 

With Trien’s automatic irrigation system, he just needs to pump water to the canal once for use of several months.

“No need to worry about the water supply, even if the river water gets exhausted. It does not take much water,” he explained. 

The advantage of the system is that it does not have direct impacts on trees. The spray system can help eliminate harmful insects, thus allowing beautiful and polished fruits

“The advantage of the system is that it does not have direct impacts on trees. The spray system can help eliminate harmful insects, thus allowing beautiful and polished fruits,” he said.

Trien began thinking of an automatic irrigation system when he was 17 after he saw some similar models on TV.

“Most local men have left the home village for the cities. It is very difficult to hire workers nowadays. Therefore, I need to find a solution to reduce labor cost and increase productivity,” he said.

In 1997, Trien began working on the automatic irrigation system. However, he failed because of the lack of experience. He decided to postpone the idea and wait for the next opportunities.

Only in 2013, after some years of saving money, he decided to design the watering system again.

“I feared that the volume of water was not enough to irrigate the entire orchard. But after I turned on the motor, the water sprayed all over the garden. I bubbled over with joy,” he recalled.

According to Trien, in the past, he had to spend five hours a day and hire one worker to water the 0.8 hectare orchard. It cost him VND140,000 to water with the machine. If the watering was done manually, he had to pay VND300,000 to workers.

At present, with the new watering system, he just needs to spend 10 minutes to order the irrigation system via smartphone and spend VND2,000 to water the entire orchard. 

This means that the cost has decreased by 70 times compared with watering with machine and 150 times compared with manual watering.

In 2014, Trien installed an automatic fertilizer and pesticide spraying system, with which farmers can save chemicals and labor costs, estimated at VND35 million a year.


Kham Pha


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