Precision farming indian agriculture
Agriculture AgriTechnology

Precision Farming – Science and Technology for a Sustainable Agriculture

“Science and Technology for a Sustainable future” has been marked as the theme for ‘National Science day’ (28th February) by Government of India to commemorate the discovery of Raman Effect by the Indian physicist Sir C.V. Raman.

And here it is to say that the principles of Raman spectroscopy have been employed in various scientific research fields not leaving behind agriculture and environment. Raman spectroscopy principles have gained their indefinite importance in the fields of food safety and quality control, monitoring emissions in air, water quality management and identification of genetically modified organisms etc.,

Let us carry over the theme “Science and Technology for a Sustainable future” into reality with special focus to Indian Agriculture to make it as a science based sustainable farming. One of the possible ways of doing so is switching over to ‘Precision farming’.

Precision farming indian agriculture
Image Credit: NASA GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems & U.S./Japan ASTER

Precision Agriculture – What it means?

Precision agriculture is a site specific crop management approach in view of utilizing the fullest resources at required level. Thus reducing the input cost, causing no sound damage to the environment and also attributing better market to the farm produces.

Scientific approach is required right from land preparation, seed or sapling selection, soil nutrient requirement assessment, irrigation management, fertilizer recommendation and application (root zone application or through fertigation), re-utilization of farm residues, pesticide or herbicide spray, biological control measures adoption, marketing (sorting, grading & pricing), analyzing the need of post-harvest technology implementation (for perishables and export goods) and value addition (in case of reduced demand period).

Majority of the farmers with limited awareness on the scientific approaches and practical inability in implementation, precision farming methodologies are still to be completely adopted in Indian farm fields.

Geospatial approach makes farming precise and sustainable

But, not only confining to the above said scientific approaches, precision farming has its actual base on the application of Remote Sensing  (RS) and  Geographical Information System (GIS). RS & GIS application makes scientific approach more precise. Space, material, men and time management could be more efficient.

Precision farming for sustainable agriculture
Image source: www.geospatialworld.net

Beyond the mere usage of GPS, this scientific application shows the possibility of future farming. Farm equipment provided with radar transmits & receives signals from satellites. The on-field data collected via satellites is sent to ground computer systems for analysis. Analysis of on-field data enables the assessment of inputs at variable rates based on requirements. Thus helps in doing farming precise and sustainable.

Future of Precision Farming in India

Since, at present there are practical inabilities in adopting the future farming technologies to Indian farm conditions, we may take the possible technologies to improve our cultivation methods. They are,

  • Base of precision farming is having the on-field data. Government with application of RS & GIS can do land degradation mapping to identify unproductive pockets and disaster prone pockets for early remediation.
  • Proper implementation of Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme enables gathering data of nutrient status of agriculture fields along with their geo-position. This helps in advocating site-specific and even plot-specific fertilizer dosage to farmers. Thereby avoiding blank fertilizer application and increase of input cost.
  • As water resources are shrinking at alarm rate, this can be used for ground water prospecting by overlay of geomorphological, hydrological and other maps. This could also be deployed for planning Watershed Management projects, Contour and irrigation mapping that promotes on-farm water use efficiency.
  • Delivery of Compensation through crop insurance usually takes longer duration, Precision farming would allow Yield modelling and crop loss estimation using satellite images. Already, PM Fasal Bima Yojna envisages to adopt modern technologies for Yield loss estimates due to unforeseen stress.
  • Besides adoption of Precision farming would have spill over advantage in Agriculture Start-ups to innovate modern-digital tools like Pest and Disease monitoring sensors, stress detection sensors, etc., that will improve per plant productivity and also Farm income.

Field level basic scientific approach – ICT approach – Advanced scientific approach (Geo spatial approach) all together forms the sustainable future for Indian Agriculture. We the Agricos should develop Scientific temper to innovate – adopt and recognize modern agriculture that hinge on Science..!

Karthi Shanmugam
The author is a Graduate in Sericulture, working as Assistant Inspector of Sericulture in the Department of Sericulture. Believes in sustainability, always think of making his birth worthier to himself and to the society he belongs. Loves to - hear self-healing music, read thoughtful writings and do less physical farm works. karthi.glitz1@gmail.com