New tech to help farmers manage water in South Africa

Image shows farming in South Africa

South Africa is facing a growing gap between water supply and demand.

The cost of inaction would be a perilous decline in the availability of freshwater resources. Resolving this challenge is crucial for South Africa’s agricultural sector and communities, especially in areas where there is unequal access to clean water.

The challenge is complex and exacerbated by climate change.

South Africa it is a semi-arid country characterised by low rainfall. It relies on significant water transfers from neighbouring nations to cater for the demand of specific agriculture, industrial, and domestic needs of the country.

‘Leaders in Innovation’ (LIF) Fellow Pontsho Molestane has created Nosetsa. Nosetsa is a smart water management tool to regulate water use on farms, without human intervention. This not only saves water, but also accurately hydrates plants, conserves resources, and saves real and virtual costs.

Nosetsa was developed to support commercial farmers to practice more sustainable irrigation methods, which also helps achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Farmers can use the limited water available to them much more efficiently. It also adapts to existing irrigation equipment to reduce moisture that can damage equipment, harm crops and affect revenue. It prevents excessive leaching of water with nutrients that can damage soil health, thus protecting and saving water.

The LIF programme has given Pontsho (and many others) the opportunity to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs. Mentorship enables him to connect to and recruit a capable team with expertise in agriculture.  The project team benefits from exposure to international partnerships and Pontsho’s leadership.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to millions of job losses in South Africa. The Nosetsa project has employed five individuals as well as external contractors.  The team hopes that their innovation will continue to provide economic/commercial benefits through the alleviation of poverty.

Launched in 2014, the LIF programme is an initiative of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering that brings together emerging leader who have developed innovations that have potential to contribute to the socio-economic development of the 16 Newton Fund partner countries. In partnership with the Technology Innovation Agency and the support of the Department of Science and Innovation in South Africa through its commitment to the Newton Fund, the LIF programme has provided training and mentoring to 92 South African innovators – to equip them with skills to commercialise their innovations.

Nosetsa – Digital Brain

Project Leads: Pontsho Moletsane, Yellow Beast (Pty) Ltd.

Project Partners: Royal Academy of Engineering, UK, Technology Innovation Agency and Water Research Commission, South Africa

Newton Fund and GCRF are drawing to a close. The International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF) is a new UK Government fund supporting research and innovation on the major themes of our time: Planet, Health, Tech, Talent. To stay on the Newton-GCRF website click Continue, if you would like to find out more about ISPF click Read more.