Precision Agriculture Technology is the process of utilizing technology for producing high-end equipments used on farms to enhance traditional practice of farming.
The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Devendra Phadnavis, in the first workshop of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution India, predicted that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the adoption of drone technology will change the face of precision agriculture in India.
This is the age of Precision Agriculture which is being widely adopted across the length and breadth of India. Information Technology forms the backbone of Precision Agriculture, while geo-spatial techniques such as GPS-based soil sampling, Drones, robotics, sensors, and telematics support the framework.
What is Precision Agriculture?
Precision Agriculture is a process of farming management that leverages technology to ensure that the soil and crop receive the accurate amount of nurturing required for their productivity. Since, this farming management technique is based on exact specifications and precision of the location, it is also known as satellite-farming or site-specific crop management (SSCM).
In a nutshell, the entire process of farming is more smart, controlled and targeted, instead of being generic.
Why is Precision Agriculture the need of the hour?
India is by large an agricultural economy. A report by the Australian department of agriculture’s research centre, Abares, indicates that the demand for agri-foods in India will surge by 136% by 2050. With such a gigantic quantum of food grain to be produced, can existing agricultural techniques meet the requirement?
Realizing the inadequacy of existing farming management techniques, farmers are now getting inclined towards techniques which are more advanced as well as cost-efficient.
How is Disruptive Technology changing Precision Agriculture?
Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Machine Learning and Deep Learning are changing the face of agriculture in India. In past two decades, Drones are being widely considered as a game changer in areas such as Agriculture. These aerial vehicles have the latest sensors and technology to tack and improve everything from irrigation, to the amount of fertilizers required and as well as the spacing in between crops to achieve the highest yield.
(1) Assessing health of crops: Drones are particularly useful in maintaining the health of the crops. The Multispectral imaging technology enables farmers to be take a pre-emptive and take preventive approach towards the health of their crops.
Drones can produce colour-coded images that indicates the presence and state of vegetation as well as detection of disease in plants.
(2) Speeding up the Seeding process: Technology help farmers to sow seeds to a farm in an accurate manner and in fast speed. This is particularly useful for farms that are on hill slopes and is difficult to reach. A “firing drone” uses a particular algorithm to carry out the planting strategy. The drone flies as high as six feet above the ground, shooting germinated seed pods at a high speed so that it penetrates the soil along with the necessary plant nutrients.
(3) Overall monitoring of the Farms: Now farmers can monitor their whole farm regardless of its size from a remote location. This is possible because drones are equipped with standard video and still cameras. Not just that the thermal imaging cameras on the drones indicate hot and cool areas which can be used to detect plant disease and to monitor irrigation needs. The image analysis is done through Deep Learning which is capable of advanced image recognition technology.
(5) Weed Detection through analytics: Weeds are a major destructive force for crops regardless of the farm size. Till now farmers have been manually detecting and scouting for weeds but now the work has been eased by Drones.
With the help of advanced data analytics, weed detection can be done by drones using Weed Pressure Analysis tools. The Weed Pressure algorithm analyses the HD drone data to create a Weed Pressure Analysis tool. This depicts the percentage of weeds spread across the farm.
(6) Livestock Management: Livestock farmers can use drones to monitor the area where livestock is kept. With the help of Thermal Imaging and High Definition camera, Drones can help farmers to keep an eye on their livestock from any location. The safety of the livestock, its movements and its health condition can all be accessed through the advanced imaging and analytics.
(7) Plucking fruits: The drone also helps to check the number of fruits that are suitable enough to be plucked from each tree. Every farmer know the number of fruits in each tree and the precise location where the fruits are ready for the harvest. The drone facility saves the time of farmers and improves the efficiency in harvesting.
Technology is an indispensable part of modern farming
Precision Agriculture Technology should aim at optimum production, efficient management, cost-effective methods and overall sustainability. This calls for producers to adopt revolutionary strategies for increasing production in the most cost and time-efficient way.
Drones are definitely a crucial invention and a long-term solution. However, it demands close co-operation amongst governments, technology giants, and the agriculture sector.