About this sample
About this sample
6 pages /
6 pages /
'Precision Farming' as the terms are only more than just sufficient to define the whole concept ie., farming with absolute accuracy using various tools like satellites, GPS, GIS etc. Indian agriculture is vulnerable to various climatic disturbances and thus even after a daunting hard work the fate of farmers totally remains in the darkness of uncertainty. Precision farming could be a viable approach to raise the Indian farmers from the mud of the bullock kart to the heights of satellites and IT. Though there are a lot of lacunas which are needed to be taken care of before fully adopting it in the Indian farming system. But the slow but steady progress of the Indian Agriculture Researchers are a proof that this utopian dream will surely come true soon. Keeping this imagination in mind this chapter is written with a very brief introduction to Precision Farming, its pros and cons, its aspects and limitations in Indian scenario and what further could be expected from this technology.
'Agriculture is the riskiest business in India' the words by the greatest man the father of Green Revolution in India Dr. M S Swaminathan clearly indicates the vulnerability of the Indian agriculture. It is well understood from the daily news of increasing farmers suicide cases in India, the standard of their livelihood. The farmers spend more than what they should without knowing what and how to do exactly and end up getting lower than what is expected by them in the end of harvest. This leads to the beginning of his miseries as he could not repay the money he rented for the farming, and gradually his situations gets worse by time in lack of proper knowledge about his own field. In India most of the farmers are practicing the same orthodox and unscientific ways of farming. They use everything superfluously from the beginning of the entire process, they plough the land without knowing that to how much depth they should till, they ignore all the variability factor of soil and apply fertilizers, nutrient and irrigation un-judiciously, sow seeds without following any particular norm or scientific design, spray chemicals just by a course walk through the field and without proper scrutiny. All this haphazard and redundant operations performed by the farmers costs a lot to them as most of the hard work done and the capital spent may not have been needed at all for that particular piece of land.
The present government aims to double the farm income by 2022 and no doubt they have tried to do so by its various measures taken to increase the outlay for agriculture, creation of market linkages through (eNAM), ensuring availability of quality seeds to the farmers, implementing soil health cards and raising minimum support price (MSP) for few selected crops. But considering the present technologies followed by the Indian farmers it will not take less than 25 years to achieve the goal of doubling the income and getting it in just five year is just an utopian dream.
All the operations which is being performed by our farmers are necessary but still they are getting a lower yield, it raises a question that is 'where are we missing to observe?' and 'what is needed to be done?'. The answers are quite simple that is ' Precision', we the farmers of India lack precision and data based information in all our farm operations. Thus, blindly follow the legacy of our ancestors which are not only outdated but are also tedious and costly, which makes farming very risky. But with precision farming it does not have to be. Here, all the decisions taken for the farm operations are based on proper scientific design and valid data and technology which are specific for a particular piece of land considering all the variables of the present situation. This helps to interpret a proper and value decision by the farmers and brings more accuracy in every action they take.
Precision farming can be defined as a modern approach to farm managing system based on information and technology which identifies, analyse and manages the variability within the fields for optimum profitability, sustainability and protection of resources. It targets not to obtain same or higher yield from everywhere but to improve the productivity on long term basis by managing and distributing the resources based on site specific needs hence precision farming can also be called 'site specific farming'. It manages and customize a small piece of land at a time with in the field rather than considering the entire field as a whole. This technology is helping farmers thorough out the globe to enhance the effectiveness of their input. Not only this some enterprising farmers have even gone to the extent of deploying Blockchain technology to interpret the volumes of data they have generated from their fields which has generated a new idea which is called ‘digital farming’. The key component of this technology is the data or information obtained from a wide array of items such as control systems, sensors, robotics, drones, autonomous vehicles, variable rate technology, GPS guidance, GPS-based soil sampling, automated hardware, telemetric, and software.
John Deere was the first to introduce this technology in 1990's by introducing Tractors fitted with GPS guided sensors. These tractors are capable of tilling the land to the exact depth that the crop needs and automatically steers the equipment based on the coordinates of a field. This in turn results in less wastage of seeds, fertilizers, fuel and time. The satellite imaging can help to determine the nutrient content of the soil and divide the field into various quadrants to allot specific operations for each quadrant. Also, the crops can be irrigated using GPS sensor backed drip irrigation systems along with this pesticide application, fertigation and harvesting at proper maturity of crop can also be done.
Before adopting precision farming it is important to have a proper knowledge of good management system which will be viable both economically and ecologically. Like every other things precision farming too have its own issues related to its benefits and barriers for its adoption. The following are some advantages and disadvantages of precision farming:
Precision farming is all about collecting, analyzing and utilizing the data to frame a proper management schedule for the agricultural field. To achieve this various technological tools are utilized. Some of these tools are mentioned below.
1. Remote Sensing
This technique has been used in agriculture since 1960's and can be an invaluable tool for monitoring and management of resources(10). It can be defined as acquisition or gathering of information about any entity or any phenomenon without making any real physical contact with the same (6). It helps to determine various factors like crop situation and stage, soil fertility and moisture, mapping based on various resources, determination of any weather hazards like flood or drought etc. This information helps in decision-making for the farm and can come from several sources including drones and satellites or hand held devices. It basically works by generating images of the field by capturing the near infra red rays emitted by that field. This images can be then utilized to develop a spot treatment plan that optimizes the use of agricultural resources.
2. Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
GPS is a network of manmade satellites orbiting around the earth, which provides information in the form of signals. These are received by the GPS receivers devices on the earth and then the information are processed using a software which is called GIS. These technologies enables coupling of real-time data collection with accurate position information which leads to the efficient manipulation and analysis of a large amount of geospatial data. The data send by the GPS and the data received by GPS receiver may not me accurate all the time hence it is needed to be corrected before use. The uncorrected data of GPS is having an accuracy of about 300 ft. The correction of data is done by comparing it with land based or satellite based signals. This provide the accurate positional correction called 'differential correction' whose accuracy is 63- 10 ft. In agriculture it is used for farm planning, field mapping, soil sampling, tractor guidance, crop scouting, variable rate applications, and yield mapping. It also allows farmers to work during low visibility field conditions such as rain, dust, fog, and darkness.
3. Variable Rate Technology (VRT)
This technology focuses on the automated application of materials viz., chemicals and fertilizers or seeds to a particular place based on data that is collected by sensors, maps, and GPS. This technology include use of drones and satellites, to artificial intelligence (AI) and hyperspectral imaging (7). It basically works on three steps: i) Zoning/Management zones - Separating the part of the field where different materials is to be used., ii) Selection of VRA type- There are two types of VRA map based and sensor based. In map based first a map is generated of the landscape and inputted into the system then all further farm activities are decided. In sensor bases the technology itself integrates sensors that can automatically detect the data that will help it decide which fertilizer should be applied., iii) Type of data/ imagery be used.
4. Computer Based Applications
It has similar applications as the above mentioned technologies. But the limitations of these software systems is that many a times they deliver a narrow value that doesn’t allow data to be used for making bigger farm decisions and another is that the applications are poor user interfaces which makes it difficult to integrate the information they provide with other data sources to enrich and show significant value to farmers (10).
5. Yield monitoring and Mapping
It was introduced n early 1990's and refers to the process of collecting geo-referenced data on crop yield and characteristics, such as moisture content, while the crop is being harvested. Main components of the system includes: Grain flow sensor to determine the volume of harvest; Grain moisture sensor; Clean grain elevator speed sensor to improve accuracy of grain flow sensor; GPS antenna; Yield monitor display with a GPS receiver which records data and geo-references; Header position sensor; and Travel speed sensor. The yield calculated at each field location can be displayed on a map using a Geographic Information System (GIS) software package. These are essential for making sound management decisions and also all the other environmental factors are also considered while making such decisions along with thorough study of several years data. It helps to determine the effect of the input given on the field.
6. Crop Scouting
In laymen's language crop scouting can be defined as travelling through a crop field while making frequent stops for observations to see how the crops of different area are growing. But scouting manually possess higher chances of error hence GPS has now been incorporated into this operation, which are much more efficient and accurate. It is crucial for each stage of the crop growth. It helps the farmer to determine the weed type and their population in field, seed rate and sowing depth can also be determined by this, early pest and disease detection etc.
The concept of precision farming was introduced in India by 'Tata Kisan Kendra' and four renowned institutes Space Applications Centre of ISRO, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, and Project Directorate of Cropping Systems Research, Modipuram, has been working in direction since long so that the technologies could be made more relevant to the Indian farmers situation.
Challenges in adopting Precision Farming in India:
Precision Farming comes at a cost of 2 lakhs per hectare(9) and adapting such technology for a typical small Indian farms and illiterate farmers is a challenge too, but recently various models have been developed to deal with the issue. The small farmers with financial limitations need not to purchase any farm equipment instead they can hire them from various custom hiring centres in various States or from other private initiatives like Mahindra group’s Trringo App or TAFE’s J-Farm Services etc (2). The role of Government is very crucial to popularize the precision farming among the Indian farmers; They should reorient the subsidies to the technology based farming.; various capacity building and extension works should be organize to teach the technique to the farmers.; proper markets are needed to be developed to absorb the surplus production which is expected from this technology.; more emphasis should be given to post harvest technology and value addition of the produce so that there should not be any wastage. As the growers will adopt precision faring the next step could be inclusion of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Agriculture. Though the role of humans in decision making could not be replaced by any other thing but including the AI will definitely make the process much more easier.
It is true that it seems like an utopian dream that an Indian farmer going to his field on a GPS supported tractor which sends the signal into the sky to the satellite and which in return locate its position on the globe and sends all the information to its GIS supported computer fitted on the tractor. Further with the help of the AI analyse all the data and tells the farmer what to do how to do too with full precision. But it cannot be denied that though the popularization of this technology is not that fast as it is in the developed countries but its progress is slow and steady and it is for sure that the day will come soon this intimidating dream will come true.
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