‘Project Atlantis’: DOST develops AI-powered aquaponics greenhouse technology for sustainable farming

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Thursday, May 23, highlighted "Project Atlantis," an initiative that utilizes aquaponics technology integrated with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for sustainable farming.

(Project Leader Anton Louise De Ocampo briefs DOST and DOST-PCAARRD monitoring and evaluation team on the project ATLANTIS' status and updates / Photo credit to ARMRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

In a Bagong Pilipinas Interview, Undersecretary Leah Buendia shared the DOST-funded innovation that aims to address the challenge of time-consuming monitoring and adjustments needed for optimal plant nutrient levels, water quality, and other factors affecting the growth of tilapia and vegetables like lettuce.

Buendia explained that Project Atlantis leverages aquaponics, a technology combining aquaculture or fish farming and hydroponics or plant cultivation without soil.

“Aquaponics has a long history of technology but what is new here is the application of AI or Internet of Things.  This means gathering data, equipped with sensors, in different parts of that closed system to measure and obtain pH data or the balance of acidity and base,” she said.

Project Atlantis, Buendia said, presents a novel and sustainable farming method. It fosters a symbiotic environment within a greenhouse where tilapia waste serves as a natural fertilizer for the lettuce plants.

"This closed-loop system eliminates waste," Buendia explained. "Fish waste is converted into nutrients absorbed by the lettuces, creating a self-sustaining cycle,” she added.

"Since it's a closed system, fish feeding remains consistent compared to traditional methods. The key difference lies in waste management. Here, fish waste is repurposed as fertilizer, significantly reducing water consumption. For instance, only 20 liters of water are needed to produce one kilogram of lettuce throughout the year," Buendia elaborated on the project's benefits.

Project Atlantis is a collaborative effort between Batangas State University (BatStateU) and Turbulent Drip Sales Incorporated (TDSI), a prominent Tagaytay-based company known for its high-value vegetable greenhouses.

This innovation, the official said, streamlines operations for TDSI, offering a more efficient and less labor-intensive approach compared to traditional fish and lettuce farming methods.

By utilizing AI and IoT models, she mentioned that the project developed an electronic controller for the sensor system, this automates specific greenhouse operations, allowing for both on-site and off-site monitoring through a mobile application.

However, currently, because this is a collaboration with Turbulent Drip Sales which is a private sector in Tagaytay, she noted that they will be the first to get this technology because they have input in terms of budget and also because they have 30 percent ownership in the technology.

Buendia also highlighted that the department provided five million to support Project Atlantis the Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (DOST-CRADLE) Program monitored by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) through its Agricultural Resources Management Research Division (ARMRD).