Third Green Revolution through Smart Farming

by Aug 17, 2022Agriculture0 comments

The Modi–government is promoting adoption of smart farming methods through the use of technology and innovation in the agriculture sector in the country.

According to the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar , the Government is implementing a Digital Agriculture Mission (DAM) which includes India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA), Farmers Database, Unified Farmers Service Interface (UFSI), Funding to the States on the new Technology (NeGPA), Revamping Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC), Soil Health, Fertility and profile mapping. Under the NeGPA programme funding is given to State Governments for Digital Agriculture projects using emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML), Internet of Things (IOT), Block chain etc. Adoption of drone technologies is being done.

To promote smart farming, the Government promotes Startups in the Agriculture sector and nurtures agri-entrepreneurs. The Per Drop More Crop component of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana (PMKSY-PDMC) aims to increase water use efficiency at the farm level through micro irrigation technologies, i.e., drip and sprinkler irrigation systems.

The GoI has already started eNAM (National Agriculture Market), an electronic trading portal which creates networks between the existing Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis for the farmers.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) promotes innovation, extension and education in agriculture. A total of 1575 field crop varieties were released for different agricultural crops during 2014-21. During 2014-21, 91.43 crore agro-advisories were provided to farmers through mobiles. ICAR developed 187 mobiles apps on different farm and farmer related services during 2014-21. These ICAR apps are now integrated on one common platform called KISAAN. The Farmer FIRST (Farm, Innovations, Resources, Science and Technology) initiative was launched during this period by ICAR with enhanced farmers-scientists interface to move beyond production and productivity.

The idea of smart farming is that farms can be managed by using modern Information and communication technologies to increase the quantity and quality of products while optimizing the human labor required.

Among the technologies available for present-day farmers are:

· Sensors: soil, water, light, humidity, temperature management

· Software:  specialized software solutions that target specific farm types or applications agnostic IoT platforms

· Connectivity: cellular, LoRA

· Location: GPS, Satellite

· Robotics: Autonomous tractors, processing facilities

· Data analytics: standalone analytics solutions, data pipelines for downstream solutions

Armed with such tools, farmers can monitor field conditions and make strategic decisions for the whole farm or a single plant without even needing to step foot in the field.

The driving force of smart farming is IoT — connecting machines and sensors integrated on farms to make farming processes data-driven and automated.

The core of IoT is the data you can draw from things and transmit over the internet. To optimize the farming process, IoT devices installed on a farm should collect and process data in a repetitive cycle that enables farmers to react quickly to emerging issues and changes in ambient conditions. Smart farming follows a cycle like this one:

1. Observation . Sensors record observational data from the crops, livestock, soil, or atmosphere.

2. Diagnostics. The sensor values are fed to a cloud-hosted IoT platform with predefined decision rules and models—also called “business logic”—that ascertain the condition of the examined object and identify any deficiencies or needs.

3. Decisions . After issues are revealed, the user, and/or machine learning-driven components of the IoT platform determine whether location-specific treatment is necessary and if so, which.

4. Action . After end-user evaluation and action, the cycle repeats from the beginning.

Many believe that IoT can add value to all areas of farming, from growing crops to forestry. While there are several ways that IoT can improve farming, two of the major ways IoT can revolutionize agriculture are precision farming and farming automation.

Precision Farming

Precision farming, or precision agriculture, is an umbrella concept for IoT-based approaches that make farming more controlled and accurate. In simple words, plants and cattle get precisely the treatment they need, determined by machines with superhuman accuracy. The biggest difference from the classical approach is that precision farming allows decisions to be made per square meter or even per plant/animal rather than for a field.

By precisely measuring variations within a field, farmers can boost the effectiveness of pesticides and fertilizers, or use them selectively.

Precision Livestock Farming

As is the case of precision agriculture, smart farming techniques enable farmers better to monitor the needs of individual animals and to adjust their nutrition accordingly, thereby preventing disease and enhancing herd health.

Large farm owners can use wireless IoT applications to monitor the location, well-being, and health of their cattle. With this information, they can identify sick animals, so that they can be separated from the herd to prevent the spread of disease.

Automation in Smart Greenhouses

Traditional greenhouses control the environmental parameters through manual intervention or a proportional control mechanism, which often results in production loss, energy loss, and increased labor cost.

IoT-driven smart greenhouses can intelligently monitor as well as control the climate, eliminating the need for manual intervention. Various sensors are deployed to measure the environmental parameters according to the specific requirements of the crop. That data is stored in a cloud-based platform for further processing and control with minimal manual intervention.

Agricultural Drones

Agriculture is one of the major verticals to incorporate both ground-based and aerial drones for crop health assessment, irrigation, crop monitoring, crop spraying, planting, soil and field analysis, and other spheres.

Since drones collect multispectral, thermal, and visual imagery while flying, the data they gather provide farmers with insights into a whole array of metrics: plant health indices, plant counting and yield prediction, plant height measurement, canopy cover mapping, field water pond mapping, scouting reports, stockpile measuring, chlorophyll measurement, nitrogen content in wheat, drainage mapping, weed pressure mapping, and so on.

Importantly, IoT-based smart farming doesn’t only target large-scale farming operations; it can add value to emerging trends in agriculture like organic farming, family farming, including breeding particular cattle and/or growing specific cultures, preservation of particular or high-quality varieties, and enhance highly transparent farming to consumers, society and market consciousness.

Third Green Revolution

Smart farming and IoT-driven agriculture are paving the way for what can be called a Third Green Revolution.

Following the plant breeding and genetics revolutions, the Third Green Revolution is taking over agriculture. That revolution draws upon the combined application of data-driven analytics technologies, such as precision farming equipment, IoT, big data analytics, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones), robotics, etc.

In the future, this smart farming revolution depicts, pesticide and fertilizer use will drop while overall efficiency will rise. IoT technologies will enable better food traceability, which in turn will lead to increased food safety. It will also be beneficial for the environment, through, for example, more efficient use of water, or optimization of treatments and inputs.

Therefore, smart farming has a real potential to deliver a more productive and sustainable form of agricultural production, based on a more precise and resource-efficient approach. New farms will finally realize the eternal dream of mankind. It’ll feed our population, which may explode to 9.6 billion by 2050, say experts.

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