Nextecengineers Group
4 min readMar 14, 2023

By Shedrack C. Mkwepu

N-Switch integrated with a water pump controller.

Agriculture is seen as the backbone of many developing countries, but the sector has been struggling with the same problems for a long time, which has led to low crop yields. As a result, farmers have always been thought to be the lowest-paid workers.

But if the right technology is used, agriculture can once again be efficient and productive. By thinking of this we came up with a device that we named the N- Switch

N-Switch: This is an offline monitoring device that allows farmers to control, manage, and monitor ongoing irrigation activities; track ongoing tasks such as watering; collect soil moisture parameters; track the amount of water flowing in the farm (water requirements); and share all of this information completely offline via normal text messages to the user’s phone.

The device doesn’t need an internet connection to communicate or collect data; instead, it communicates with the phone and shares the collected data offline.

N-Switch at World Vegetable Centre Arusha.

With the support of Open Map Development Tanzania through its Open Skies Fellows program, Nextec Engineers managed to design and pilot 8 devices (N-Switches) in 2022, whereby 5 of them were installed here in Tanzania and 3 were sold and shipped to Senegal.

N-Switch was designed with the following features: collect soil moisture status and send it to the user’s phone whenever the switch receives a request for it. Track whether a watering activity is taking place or not. and shares this with the user’s phone whenever requested. allows a farmer to switch on or off a valve for irrigation purposes remotely on their mobile phones via normal text messages, Sends allows a farmer to turn on or off a water pump remotely via text message. An automatic switch turns off the water pump when a water tank is full. Track the daily amount of water being used for irrigation purposes; control irrigation on its own by tracking the amount of moisture in the soil when commanded to do so by the user; send automatic soil moisture statuses to the user’s phone via normal text message to help them make a better decision on when to irrigate and when to stop; N-Switch has been designed for drip irrigation and water pump control purposes.

We designed the N-switch With these features, it can help its users manage water well and control irrigation activities even when they are not at the farm. This allows for closer management without the user having to be there. A farmer can use this to increase yields and, thus, earnings. and also: This device helps save water up to 60%, saves time invested in daily agricultural activities, reduces workload, minimizes operation costs, and results in improved yields and higher earnings.

An image to elaborate how the N-Switch work.

N-Switch was designed to be used to control and monitor the working of the water pumps as well as controlling and monitoring irrigation agricultural activities remotely and offline through text messages.

Hence, the switch can be integrated with the already installed water pumping systems whether it’s normal pumps or a solar pump as shown in the images below:

N-Switch installation at Magugu, Manyara.

Since 2021, we have managed to install and pilot 8 switches; three were sold to a Japanese company, while five were installed in Arusha and Manyara.Some of the switches are installed for water pump control, while others are for irrigation purposes.

While we aim to reach a majority of people; in 5 years we intend to have delivered the technology to more users by collaborating with the water pump manufacturers/suppliers and horticulture associations/companies.

With this technology, we intend to serve at least 1.5 million farmers in Tanzania and other markets as well. The main goal is to improve the efficiency of how agricultural practices are being performed today.