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Precision farming in Indian Agricultural Scenario
Precision farming is characterised by a number of sophisticated tools that assist in monitoring variation and managing inputs. These include:
- Global Positioning System (GPS) – a referencing device capable of identifying sites within a field;
- Sensors and dataloggers – crop, soil and climate information can be monitored at a high frequency using these technologies;
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – maps of these attributes can be generated and analysed using simple browsers or complex models;
Fig. 1 precision farming overview
Differential action – once the factors that are limiting yield are identified, action can be taken to overcome or minimise these constraints. The key components of Precision Farming include capturing the data at an appropriate scale and frequency, interpretation and analysis of that data, and implementation of a management response at an appropriate scale and time. In fact, the key differentiator between the conventional management system and precision agriculture is the application of modern information technologies towards providing, processing and analysing the multi-source data of high spatial and temporal resolution for decision-making and operations in the management of crop production.
GPS role in Precision Agriculture.
Precision Agriculture is doing the right thing, at the right place, at the right time. Knowing the right thing to do may involve all kinds of high tech equipments and fancy statistics or other analysis. Doing the right thing however starts with good managers and good operators doing a good job of using common tools such as planters, fertilizer applicators, harvesters and whatever else might be needed. (Colvin and Kerkman, 1999).
The use of GPS in Agriculture is limited but it is fair to expect wide spread use of GPS in future. Recently a GPS-based crop duster (precision GPS Helicopter), which can spray an area as small as 4 X 4 mtr. is attracting great attention. Some progressive farmers are now beginning to use GPS for recording observations. Such as weed growth, unusual plant stress, colouring and growth conditions, which can then be mapped with a GIS programmes. In the years to come, GPS system role in precision agriculture may help the Indian farmers to harvest the fruits of frontier technologies without compromising the quality of land and produce.
Status of Precision farming in India
Hence, the first thing that comes to mind is that, this system is not for developing countries, especially India, where the farmers are poor, farming is mostly subsistent and the land holding size is small. But, this is far from the truth as this approach has a large potential for improving the agricultural production in developing world. Imagine this situation where a farmer goes to his field with a GPS (Global Positioning System)-guided tractor. The GPS senses the exact location of tractor within the field. It sends signals to the computer fixed on to the tractor, which has a Geographical Information System (GIS), storing the soil nutrient requirement map in it. The GIS, in consultation with a Decision Support System would decide what is the exact requirement of fertilisers for that location. It then commands a variable rate fertiliser applicator, which is again attached with the tractor, to apply the exact dosage at the precise location of farm. But, this is what precision farming means to large growers in the highly developed parts of the globe. To make it clearer, Precision Farming is the system of matching of resource application and agronomic practices with soil attributes and crop requirements since they vary across a field.
Tata Kisan Kendra :
The concept of precision farming being implemented by the TKKs has the potential to catapult rural India from the bullock-cart age into the new era of satellites and IT. TCL's extension services, brought to farmers through the TKKs, use remote-sensing technology to analyze soil, inform about crop health, pest attacks and coverage of various crops predicting the final output. This helps farmers adapt quickly to changing conditions. The result: healthier crops, higher yields and enhanced incomes for farmers. Government organization:
Precision Agriculture models are not complete, unless the parameters related to empowerment of the farmers; especially small and marginal farmers are integrated. Now it is the turn of good news to the Indian farming community. Some of the research institutes such as Space Applications Centre (ISRO), M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, and Project Directorate of Cropping Systems Research, Modipuram, had started working in this direction and in soon it will help the Indian farmers harvest the fruits of frontier technologies without compromising on the quality of land. According to the Exim Bank officials, though the research and development on PF is currently at a nascent stage in the country, the efforts being put on by the four research institutes were expected to turn the green revolution into an evergreen revolution. In this context, ISRO has also initiated Gramsat project in Orissa. In the line of JDCP, the Gramsat project aims at empowering the people especially the poor and marginalized, by awareness building and access to information and services. Towards this, a network of one-way video and two-way audio Forecasting the yield of mono and multiple crops is being done at NRSA. Acreage estimates and crop inventory is being done during Kharif and Rabi seasons for Rice, which is the major crop grown in our India. Other crops like Banana, Chillies, Cotton, Maize, Sugarcane and Tobacco are also being inventoried. Satellite data can also delineate different crops that are grownin the same area, and an inventory of each of the crops can be done.