FUTA Professor gets FG’s patent for soil measuring device

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The Chief Registrar, Trademarks, Patents and Designs ,Ministry Of Trade and Investment , acting under the aegis of the President ,Federal Republic of Nigeria , Bola Ahmed Tinubu , has given formal recognition via the issuance of a Certificate of Registration of Patent for an Integrated Digital Soil Moisture and Temperature Device ,christened MOISTEMP developed by a Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA ,Christopher AKINBILE.

The main intention of the invention, according to Professor Akinbile, is to take soil moisture and temperature measurement at various depth in-situ and concurrently. This is to facilitate irrigation scheduling and water management planning to achieve food security and attain the SDG goal of ending hunger by 2030. The invention solves the problem associated with lack of soil and moisture data which is responsible for increased rate of seed abortion because of high soil temperature and distorted plant growth and development due to water shortage.

The Chief Registrar of the Patent Office, Stella Ozo Ezenduka, who signed the Certificate of Patent on March 22,2024, affirms that Akinbile now has the sole use and advantage of the Invention. She also stated that “The Patent Certificate also confers on Akinbile full power, sole privilege, and authority over the invention. The Patentee shall have and enjoy the whole profit and advantage accruing by reason of the said invention.”

She went further to warn those who may want to infringe on the Patentee rights over his invention with “a command to all citizens of Nigeria, that they do not at any time, make use of the invention in any way without the written consent, licence or agreement of the Patentee.”

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The drive that led to the development of the device arose because   accurate soil temperature and moisture measurement is critical for crop production and cultivation. Also, because successful germination of seedlings depends on these two parameters. He gives more insight and relevance of the device, “Inaccurate consideration of these two parameters affect seeds germination, nutrients uptake and root development. Temperature determines the rate of crop development and consequently affects the length of the total growing period of the crop. At higher temperatures, the rate of seed abortion increases while the mid-season stage of crop development is grossly impaired. Crop growth during acute water shortage (drought) results in crop stress which may destroy large hectares of farm crops. Too much water results in flooding which blocks all the soil’s pore spaces and endanger soil aeration for plant development.”

MOISTEMP (combining moisture and temperature which are the two soil parameters that it will measure) works by logging all the readings in a google sheet and record the location of measurement using the GPS, both of which are embedded in the portable measuring device. Akinbile states that, “The need for these on-point information necessitated the development of this integrated measuring device. That will not only combine both measurements at various depths concurrently and all the values are displayed on the LCD monitor installed on the device, but also store and compare existing readings on googles sheet while displaying the exact latitude and longitude of the point of measurement. All these contributes to food insecurity being experienced globally since irrigation could not be scheduled due to lack of information to ameliorate these extreme events.” He says the uniqueness of MOISTEMP is that it can measure both parameters concurrently and at varying depths all at the same time unlike other devices of its kind.

According to Akinbile who is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and fellow of the Nigerian institution of Agricultural Engineers (NIAE), “The MOISTEMP device makes measurement easier, faster and enables prompt decision-making process on water management, planning and utilization to achieve increase food production especially in developing countries such as Nigeria. Its portability makes it easy to manage and move around while the introduction of service providers’ ports enables it to make recordings that are location-specific anywhere in the world. The combined introduction of SD card and google sheets making logging easy which can easily be transferred into computers using Bluetooth or USB cords.”

The Vice Chancellor, Professor Adenike Oladiji, while congratulating Professor Akinbile on the milestone, described it as another validation of FUTA as a research-intensive institution with an eye on tailoring goals of research to solving social and societal challenges. “On behalf of management, I congratulate Professor Akinbile. This is a major step in our determination to combine research with development of relevant products for the good of our country and humanity. I call on relevant institutions and organizations to partner with Professor Akinbile to make the device readily available to end users to give the necessary fillip to the fight against food insecurity,” the Vice Chancellor said.

MOISTEMP comes with a microcontroller unit, moisture sensor, temperature sensor, real time module, SD card shield, liquid crystal display (LCD) unit, sensor probe, USB cords, GPS receptor device, and PVC box which housed the entire components.

The Patent was granted to underscore the Federal Government’s willingness to encourage all invention which may be for public good under the Patents and Designs Act; CAP 344 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

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