According to research, most potato farmers in Buguias, Benguet are dependent on rainfall to water their farms causing some farmers to wait for the rainy season before planting. But what if structures worth less than Php 3,000.00 could convert fog into water?
Donalyn M. Macaburas and Diostonee A. Balinte were then students of engineering at Benguet State University thinking what machine to help farmers they could come up with as their thesis when Dr. Silver K. Aben suggested the fog harvester. They first convinced their adviser, Engr. Editha Carlos, to support them and from there, they went through a lot of ups and downs such as not being able to graduate on time and emerging as second placers in the regional student research congress in 2018.
The thesis of Macaburas and Balinte titled “Water Yield of a Fog Harvester as Affected by Mesh Material and its Orientation” contains the design, evaluation results and cost analysis of four fog harvester structures made up of aluminum mosquito mesh or polyethylene mesh, galvanized iron frame and post, gutter, plastic tube and storage tank. The students considered installing the structures in Mt. Santo Tomas in Baguio City and Mt. Jumbo/Yangbew in La Trinidad but finally settled in Sinipsip, Buguias.
The four structures which measures 3×1 meters each compared how much water will be collected using two types of mesh (aluminum mosquito mesh or polyethylene mesh) and whether the orientation of the mesh (portrait or landscape) will also make a difference.
The fog harvesters collect water mainly through the mesh. “Nu ag pass through jay fog ijay net or mesh, siempre ag condense… karkaru nu rabii ta nalamin kasla nga dew ag drip santo ag flow ijay water container then isu ti macollect (Condensation happens when the fog passes the net or mesh, especially at night because of colder temperature, then these fog which were converted to fog like dew is collected in the containers)” explained Balinte. Results of the evaluation showed that there is no significant difference between the kind of mesh used. The polyethylene mesh with portrait orientation listed the highest Return of Investment (ROI) at 50.5 percent.
The four fog harvesters (each having three replications) were able to collect 1,600 liters of water within a span of one month from January 15 to February 15, 2018. The students however, advised against the household use of water from the fog harvester.
“According to the research of the World Health Organization (WHO), jay nacol-collect nga danum from fog harvesters ijay other countries, pasado isuna nga drinking water. Ngem ditoy gamin ayan tayo medyo polluted baka contaminated en gapu iti pesticides ken daduma nga chemicals (According to WHO research, water collected from fog harvesters in other countries passed as drinking water, but in our place, there might be contamination caused by pesticides and other chemicals)” said Macaburas. Balinte added that a test can be done for that, one that they were not able to do because of financial constraints.
Macaburas is now a research assistant of the project “Development of Rainwater and Fog harvesters in Baguio-Benguet Areas” led by Engr. Leonardo Dumalhin under the BSU-College of Engineering and Applied Technology (CEAT). Farmers who are interested about the fog harvester may visit their office at CEAT.
When asked why farmers in high elevation areas should try fog harvesters, she says “Nu nagngangato nga place usually ti source ti danum da aggapu ijay baba ket ipu-pump da ngay diyay nga pangato, ngayon, mabalin da met nga usaren jay adaen ijay ayanda, jay fog. Nu ada fog harvester da, once nga naipatakder, agcollect da na lang awan ti mausar nga kuryente, kitan da lang ta awan maipulpullat ijay gutter (In high elevation places, water is usually pumped from lower elevation areas. If so, they can use fog harvesters to collect water especially if fog is already there. Fog harvesters does not require electricity and are maintained just by cleaning the gutter)” said Macaburas.
“Jay structures nga inaramid mi 3×1 meters, nu kayat da pay nalawlawa, tapno ad adu ma collect da, mabalin and not necessarily jay inusar mi nga material, they can use kayo nga pang poste tapno makalaka kasjay (The structures we made is 3×1 meters but it could be enlarged to collect more water, they can also use other materials such as wood for posts as it is cheaper, not necessarily the ones we used)” added Balinte.
Both clarified that the fog harvester was intended to add to the water supply and not to become the sole source.