Jas Social Impact 2022 winners: “Gulde” project

We continue to introduce you to the winners of the Jas Social Impact 2022 competition. This year, two projects by NU SEDS students were recognized as winners of the contest organized by the NU Social Development Fund. The next project is “Gulde,” which won in the “Idea Grant” category.

The project leader, Alikhan Talipbayev. He is a third-year undergraduate student in Electrical and Computer engineering. The co-founder of the project is Sanzhar Kaidarov, and he is also a third-year undergraduate student in Electrical and Computer engineering. Together they will produce affordable units for farmers to grow green hydroponic fodder.

Alikhan, please tell us about your project? Where did the idea come from?

My interest in hydroponics began in the summer of 2020 during quarantine. It was the middle of May when everything was closed, and we were all sitting at home. One of those days, my father and I went to a country house to plant vegetables. As you know, growing in open ground takes work. First, you must dig up the soil and then water abundantly to “wake up” the soil. There were no pumps or pipes, so I had to water with buckets. The country house was far from our home, and every 2-3 days, we would go there, and I would do all this work. As an engineer, I did not like this. I was too lazy to do all this work, so I searched for Information to automate everything, make it easy and with no manual labor. That is how I discovered hydroponics technology. I built my first hydroponic setup on the home’s balcony. I did robotics in school and did several research projects, so I had knowledge of basic engineering and automation that helped me build my first setup. Assembly and maintenance of this setup were much more manageable than digging ground. It took me less than one hour every day to check the parameters such as the electric conductivity of water, pH level, etc. I used sensors to make them so I could see all the Information on the dashboard. I got my first harvest of fresh cucumbers at the end of the fourth week. They were tasty and juicy. From that point, I delved more profound into this technology, and in 2 years, my team and I built several hydroponic setups for different types of vegetables.

Why did you decide to choose this sphere? What benefit can your project bring, or what problem will it solve?

In 2021, due to drought and lack of fodder in the southwestern regions of Kazakhstan. There was a mass loss of livestock. We immediately started investigating this problem and searching for ways to help the affected farmers. That is how we started our project – Gulde. We are building hydroponic setups, and farmers can grow fresh grass with them. Most people think that hydroponics is all about biology, but it is not. The critical point here is technology and automation. As an engineering student, my team and I find it fascinating and exciting how technology can solve problems nowadays. We want to use our knowledge in practice and help society. In perspective, our team wants to explore this technology further and apply it to other spheres.

What are the next steps?

We will start the production of hydroponic plants at our university, attract students from different faculties and develop our solution. This year, our goal is to finish a prototype, create a production version, demonstrate it to the public, and sell it locally.