What is Precision Farming : Concept of Precision Farming In India, Challenges

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 precision technology.

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 massively increasing population, it is imperative to have transformation in Agriculture with disruptions from next-generation technologies like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics etc. 

What is Precision Farming : Concept of Precision Farming In India, Challenges

What is Precision farming?

Precision Farming is an approach where inputs are utilized in precise amounts to get increased average yields, compared to traditional cultivation techniques such as agroforestry, intercropping, crop rotation, etc.

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)

Sustainable Precision Farming is this century’s most valuable innovation in farm management that is based on using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

It enables farmers to use crop inputs more efficiently including pesticides, fertilizers, tillage and irrigation water.

More effective utilization of inputs will bring in more crop yield and quality without polluting the environment and will result in sustainable agriculture and sustainable development.

It is 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.

Recent advances in the field of sensors, remote sensing, deep learning, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) for monitoring and quantification of soil, plant and environment to enhance farm productivity with increased input use efficiency and environmental sustainability.

What are the advantages of precision farming?

  • It will enhance agricultural productivity and prevent soil degradation in cultivable land resulting in sustained agricultural development.
  • It will reduce excessive chemical usage in crop production.
  • Water resources will be utilized efficiently under the precision farming.
  • GPS allows agricultural fields to be surveyed with ease. Moreover, the yield and soil characteristics can also be mapped.
  • Dissemination of information about agricultural practices to improve quality, quantity and reduced cost of production in agricultural crops.
  • It will minimize the risk to the environment particularly with respect to the nitrate leaching and groundwater contamination by means of the optimization of agro-chemical products.
  • Non-uniform fields can be sub-divided into smaller plots based on their unique requirements.
  • It provides opportunities for better resource management and hence reduce wastage of resources

Challenges in adopting precision farming in India

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

  • Educational challenges: Among the variables that contribute to educational challenges, lack of local experts, funds, knowledgeable research. Precision agriculture techniques are still under development and requires expert advice before actual implementation.
  • Economic challenges: High capital costs may discourage farmers to not adopt this method of farming.
Way Forward

Keeping in view the research gaps, a specific objective-driven collaboration needs to be proposed.

More R&D in the field and on the concept is needed. For that, collaborations with global universities can be done for further excelling in education and research and capacity building.

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

Source : DownToEarth

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