Innovation and Technology In Agriculture

The world needs to increase food production by almost 50 percent by 2050 to feed a population of nine billion, yet resources such as land and water are becoming more and scarcer. So what’s next?

Are we on the footfall of undergoing another food crisis? Or is there an inflection awaiting, in agro-tech that would result in the Green Revolution 2.0. Let’s find out what the manmade UFOs have to say

“The adoption of modern technologies in agriculture, such as the use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can significantly enhance risk and damage assessments and revolutionize the way we prepare for and respond to disasters that affect the livelihoods of vulnerable farmers and fishers and the country’s food security.” – “José Luis Fernández”

Agriculture as a business has the most critical factors that needs to be taken into consideration before executing anything. The victim here is the Farmer, because despite so much of technological advancements, he hasn’t been benefitted by any of it. It is saddening to know many of the farmers are still unaware of the soil their farmland has and which crop will it suit for accordingly. This is exactly synonymous to sitting in an engineering class with an aspiration to become a learned lawyer.

In today’s scenario, a farmer is going through a lot of problems, out of which the immediate concerns are:

  • Time consuming processes
  • Wastage of resources by conventional methods of Irrigation and Pesticide spraying
  • Agricultural produce not meeting the requirement. Both in terms of Quality and Quantity.
  • Crops getting infested by locusts, pests etc.

It is saddening to know that, farmer who happens to be the backbone of an agrarian economy like India, suffer so much.

Not anymore. Get excited as we discuss here how Drones and UAVs can prove out to be a boon for the Agriculture Industry and more importantly the farmers.

  • Soil Quality Assessment

When we talk about soil factors, only alkalinity and moisture content comes to our mind. In reality, the factors are spread across three sectors, physical, chemical and biological. The physical factors consists of detection of soil erosion, provision of aeration these can be detected by capturing images and processing those by machine learning algorithms to extract the issue present in the farmlands. By sensor and detectors the chemical factors such as nutrient availability, presence of toxic elements and moisture content can be analyzed.

Similar to detection of physical factors, even the biological ones such as presence of earthworms and microorganisms, etc. can be done. The ease of accessibility of it is the most important highlight, as the farmer has all of his soil data, performance and suitable crop list right on his palm.

  • Crop monitoring

Manually monitoring each patch of the farm and detecting the areas where there has been improper irrigation, plant growth etc. happens to be the headache of each and every farmer. With the monitoring of the drones giving a bird’s eye view and harnessing the power of image processing a 3D map of the farmland can be generated that gives the best pattern of planting for the crops and managing them. Sensors like RGB and Infrared can detect the amount of green light reflected by the crop and detect for any disease in the crop or stunted growth in them.

  • Real life livestock management

Livestock management involves keeping a check on the number of sheep or cow depending upon the cattle, checking if they are suffering from any diseases, any member of the cattle giving birth and the worst nightmare for manager that is eyeing for the possible predator. Sounds too much right? But the solution to this problem is already here are probably you would have heard about frequently – A thermal scanner. Just by assigning a drone to monitor the grazing yard and mounting a thermal scanner on it will give accurate, lag free information to the owner and he can take care of his cattle.

  • Crop spraying and spot spraying

For a crop to be healthy and of quality produce, it needs to be sprayed with insecticides and pesticides after regular intervals. The traditional methods of doing this involves manual spraying by a person, this often results in non-uniformity in the work and excessive use of the resources that results in wastage of it. A drone can be programmed with the amp of the farmland and a mounted with a reservoir assigned with the job of spraying across the field saving time, money and resources.
At times certain spot of farms are infests with locusts, pests or weeds in such cases only that spot requires to be sprayed with the chemicals to resolve the problem. Drone can detect the problem and directly go to the area of the farm and get the spraying done.

  • Seed planting

There are certain drones developed that can take the task of seeding the entire field. These have a container that consists of germinated seeds, which are shot at the ground with high pressure and speed. This results in the seed getting fixed in the soil and later irrigated. This method is currently still under research and development, but is quite “the talk of the town”. Because, if this process turn out to be viable then the amount of deforested land that can be made green again will turn out to be an asset to our planet and the ecosystem.

All of these solution listed in this blog comes under the category of Precision Agriculture. In layman terms it means taking actions on the farms, at the right “place”, right “time” with the right “way”. All of this aiming to maximize the produce with maintaining its quality.

Let’s look at what is Government of India’s approach is towards deploying Agri-Tech to the farmers with the help of drones.

  1. Agriculture education institutes like ICAR, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, and State Agricultural Universities are provided with a grant of 10 lakh (One Million) rupees for buying of drones, its fitments and facilitate training and education to the farmers
  2. FPOs (Farmer Produce Organizations) are eligible to receive a grant of 75% of the drone investment cost in order to display the working of drones in farmland and the benefits that the farmers will receive by usage of it.
  3. For small farmer owners for whom investing a large capital into drones is not feasible, CHC’s (Custom hiring centers) will be established. These centers will provide drone technology to the farmers on a rental basis or per acreage basis. CHC’s will be setup by local businessman and entrepreneurs. They will be provided with a 50% grant to cover the initial cost of the equipment.

We are witnessing and will come across many new advancements in Agriculture. Hopeful and Keen towards India’s revolutionary approach in the coming future with Agriculture.