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‘The concept of Precision farming in India’

  • Category
    Agriculture
  • Published
    2nd Nov, 2020

India is one of the largest producers of food grains globally. Though its agriculture is very small-scale, yield from farming is low and the pressure on land is enormous. This needs to change with the help of digital precision technology.

Context

India is one of the largest producers of food grains globally. Though its agriculture is very small-scale, yield from farming is low and the pressure on land is enormous. This needs to change with the help of digital precision technology.

Background

  • The world’s population is steadily growing and as per the United Nations estimate, roughly 83 million people are added to the global population every year.
  • By 2050, the number of people on planet Earth is projected to reach 9.8 billion.  
  • While the scientific community has begun to view old fears about overpopulation as unfounded, the rapidly expanding human population presents genuine & real-time challenges to economic, agricultural, and communal infrastructures.
  • Farmers, especially in the emerging and developing economies like Asia Pacific, Africa and SAARC regions face an ever-growing demand to produce more food on smaller landholdings, even as they struggle to protect their farms against extreme weather, climate change, environmental impact, market fluctuations, etc.
  • To inclusively feed this massive population, it is imperative to have transformation in Agriculture with disruptions from next-generation technologies like the Internet of Things, AI, ML, Robotics etc. 
  • Precision agriculture techniques can be a game changes. It can give farmers productive tools to optimize every farming task. 

Analysis

What is Precision farming?

  • Precision farming is an approach where inputs are utilised in precise amounts to get increased average yields, compared to traditional cultivation techniques.
  • In India, one major problem is the small field size.
    • More than 58 per cent of operational holdings in the country have size less than one hectare (ha).
    • Only in the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat do more than 20 per cent of agricultural lands have an operational holding size of more than four ha.
  • Commercial as well as horticultural crops also show a wider scope for PA in the cooperative farms.

Why farmers today need to take up precision farming?

  • Sustainable PA is this century’s most valuable innovation in farm management that is based on using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
  • This is the most recent innovation technology based on sustainable agriculture and healthy food production and it consists of profitability and increasing production, economic efficiency and the reduction of side effects on the environment.
  • Today, farmers really need to take up precision farming due to the following reasons:
    • To increase agriculture productivity
    • Prevents soil degradation
    • Reduction of chemical application in crop production
    • Efficient use of water resources
    • Dissemination of modern farm practices to improve quality, quantity and reduced cost of production
    • Developing favourable attitudes
    • Precision farming changing the socio-economic status of farmers

Advantages 

  • Agronomical perspective 
  • Technical perspective
  • Environmental perspective
  • Economic perspective 

Drawbacks of precision farming  

  • High cost
  • Lack of technical expertise knowledge and technology
  • Not applicable or difficult/costly for small land holdings
  • Heterogeneity of cropping systems and market imperfections

What are the major challenges in the application?

Educational and economic challenges as the two most important in the application of precision agriculture.

  • Educational challenges: Among the variables that contribute to educational challenges, lack of local experts, funds, knowledgeable research and extension personnel have more of an impact compared to others.
  • Economic challenges: PA and initial costs have more of an impact among the economic challenges compared to the other issues.

Suggestive measures to promote precision farming

  • Identify the niche areas for the promotion of crop specific precision farming
  • Creation of multidisciplinary teams involving agricultural scientists in various fields, engineers, manufacturers and economists to study the overall scope of precision agriculture
  • Provide complete technical backup support to the farmers to develop pilots or models, which can be replicated on a large scale
  • Pilot study should be conducted on farmers’ fields to show the results of precision agriculture implementation
  • Creating awareness among farmers about consequences of applying imbalanced doses of farm inputs like irrigation, fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides.

Conclusion

Precision digital agriculture is currently very much in demand. It presents significant potential in enhancing food productivity while at the same time providing sustainable management of resources. It may also help to reduce stubble in the fields: Internet of Things, big data, drones and robotics have a big role to play in driving precise solutions for every field.

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