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Precision Agriculture: The SMART Farming Technology

After a long period, a revolution is brewing in Agriculture sector. The electronics-based precision measurement technology has entered the farming sector. Precision Agriculture as the name suggests, is the digital agriculture that enables the precise measurement of field parameters and uses a predictive analytics software that enables precise inputs to soil, creating a huge upside on efficiencies, yields and productivity. It is the site-specific microclimate management technology, that is fast revolutionizing agriculture practices.

Precision agriculture holds potential to unlock opportunities to counter the effects of climate change, water scarcity and eroded ecology, on agricultural yield and yet produce enough food for 10 billion people. It seems possible to feed even 10 billion people if we adopt precision farming technologies. It all depends on how quickly farming communities adopt this change. The adoption rate is quite high in the West, particularly in US. Precision agriculture is reporting a CAGR of 16.84% reaching the market size of USD 12,649 Million by 2025.

Precision agriculture is built on capabilities of monitoring and analyzing variations of field parameters. The essentials required are field mapping, yield monitoring, crop scouting, soil monitoring, and weather tracking. Extensive usage of satellite imageries, with sensor technologies (like GPS) that monitors soil parameters feeds into predictive analytic software which analyses and creates precise farm plans, field maps, and yield maps to guide farmers. It precisely indicates inputs of fertilizers, pesticides, and water, which effectively saves costs and boosts efficiency and productivity of the farm.

Precise measurement of N, P and K nutrients in different parts of the field help define different dozing required in different areas, by using Variable Rate Technology [VRT], thus avoiding over usage of fertilizers. Mobile apps and agricultural drones have can enable farmers in remote locations to understand and effectively practice this technology and opened new opportunities and possibilities for them. The latest versions of drones are designed taking inspirations from the way insects fly. These new drones can fly in windy conditions as well!

Precision agriculture is a capital-intensive decisive farming. It focuses on efficient consumption of inputs and productivity of farm, so much so that some people call it Precision Agronomics. Precision agriculture has been around for last few decades, it has now become a mainstream activity due to the rapid technological advancements in mobile devices, high speed internets, satellite imagery and telematic services. The high capital costs will get normalized as the prices of the services will fall with wide scale application of technologies.

“Precision agriculture is a capital-intensive decisive farming. It focuses on efficient consumption of inputs and productivity of farm, so much so that some people call it Precision Agronomics.”

- Anjali Hardikar, Managing Partner, Kokan Organica LLP, India

Going forward, precision agriculture will see many more remote-controlled applications of robotics. It has tremendous potential for artificial intelligence (AI) applications which will help counter the vagaries of weather variations to make agriculture more predictable. Precision agriculture makes no distinction between conventional or organic farming practices. It helps boost productivity and economics for both.

Developing countries need to catch up with the precision agriculture. High speed internet in remote area and digital illiteracy and knowledge deficiency needs to be addressed quickly. Precision farming can help feed the current and future growth of population on the planet. Precision agriculture is nothing but SMART AGRICULTURE.

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Anjali Hardikar

Managing Partner, Kokan Organica LLP, India