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Approach:

  1. Intro – define precision farming.
  2. Briefly mention its benefits.
  3. Mention about the use of technology.
  4. Mention govt steps taken to boost agri-technology.

Precision farming is an approach where inputs are utilized in precise amounts to get increased average yields, compared to traditional cultivation techniques. It is the science of improving crop yields using high technology sensor and analysis tools. Precision Farming utilizes multitude of advanced technologies and tools to monitor several parameters and collect information related to crop growth (like soil moisture, pH etc.). The information is used for targeted interventions. It is referred to as ‘precision’ because it is focused on performing the right intervention (e.g., providing water to crops), in the right place, at the right time, responding to the specific demands of individual crops and individual areas of land with superior levels.

Benefits: It increases agriculture productivity, reduces chemical application in crop production, prevents soil degradation, efficiently use water resources, improve Farm Incomes, facilitate job creation. Moreover, it leads to dissemination of modern farm practices which are more sustainable and climate-friendly.

Technologies used: Global Positioning System is used to identify the location of farm equipment in the field. It provides an accurate positioning system necessary for field implementation of variable rate technology in agricultural input management.

Grid sampling is a technique for segmenting fields into small units (~0.5–5 hectares). Soil samples from those grids are used to calculate the proper application rates for crop inputs. Variable-rate technology (VRT) consists of farm field equipment with the ability to precisely control the rate of application of crop inputs that can be varied in their application including fertilizers, irrigation, tillage, insect control etc. Crop yield measuring tools fitted on harvesting machinery are called Yield Monitors. Remote sensing technique provides the map to pinpoint the field problems more effectively. Remote sensors can be categorized as aerial or satellite sensors. Proximate sensors can be used to measure soil parameters (Nitrogen content, pH etc.) and crop properties as the tractor passes over the field.

Steps taken to promote Technology use in agriculture:

  • ‘Digital Agriculture Mission 2021–2025’ – It aims to leverage a wide range of technologies from AI, blockchain along with drone technology to improve the sector’s overall performance.
  • At present, ICRISAT (International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics) is working with Microsoft to develop an AI Sowing App to send sowing advisories to farmers for telling the optimal date to sow.
  • Crop yield prediction model using AI : In May 2018, NITI Aayog partnered with IBM to develop a crop yield prediction model using AI to provide real-time advisory to farmers. The partnership aims to provide insights to enhance crop productivity, increase soil yield, and control agricultural inputs with the goal of improving farmers’ income. It aims to identify systems of crop monitoring, early warning on pest and disease outbreak based on advanced AI innovations. It also includes deployment of weather advisory rich satellite and enhanced weather forecast information.
  • AI sensors for smart farming : The Government of India, in collaboration with Microsoft, has begun empowering small-holder farmers in India to increase income through higher crop yield and greater price control using AI sensors. Microsoft is engaging with multiple stakeholders including farmers, State Governments, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEiTy) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to create an ecosystem for AI into farming. Microsoft is also engaging with Escorts (Farm equipment manufacturer) to enable precision agriculture capabilities.
  • Drones to monitor crop and soil health : The project entitled ‘SENSAGRI: Sensor-based Smart Agriculture’ is being undertaken by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Its objective is to develop indigenous prototype for drone based crop and soil health monitoring system using remote sensors. This technology could also be integrated with satellite-based technologies for large scale applications.
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