First-year Student Wins Entrepreneurial Innovation Award

Nathaniel Haut has developed a water sensor system that notifies farmers which land areas need to be watered at specific times.

An entrepreneurial concept that employs field mapping software and water sensor technology to optimize farm irrigation techniques has earned Nathaniel Haut recognition and a scholarship from the Michigan Colleges Alliance.

Haut, a first-year Alma College student from Midland, received the highest evaluation in MCA’s Independent Innovators Network Scholarship competition. He was awarded a $7,500 scholarship.

The Spider Sensor System, working in conjunction with an existing irrigation system, sends periodic heat maps to farmers, notifying them which land areas need to be watered at specific times.

Time-based irrigation schedules often result in some portions of a farm lacking water, while other areas may suffer from oversaturation, says Haut.

“The Spider Sensor System allows for the precise amount of water to be strategically delivered to the field only in areas that are below the ideal soil moisture level,” states Haut in his project application. “The goal is to reduce costs for farmers and potentially save millions of gallons of water per year.”

The system has potential applications for commercial farms, orchards, wineries and even residential lawns, says Haut, who began developing his concept in high school and has tested it on a small scale. His next step is to develop a mechanism to produce the system on a large scale.

Haut is pursuing a double major in chemistry and computer science at Alma College and plans a post-graduate career in cheminformatics — broadly defined as the field of solving chemical problems with computers.

A graduate of Midland High School, Haut is the son of Ken and Toni Haut.

Story published on March 13, 2017