Data is transforming all sectors in India, including agriculture, which is often seen as traditional and resistant to change. Climate change is having a drastic impact on India, and the agriculture sector is one of the most affected. In these uncertain times, AI solutions are helping farmers make sustainable decisions. By providing ready-to-implement, actionable insights, data can guide farmers on what to plant, when to plant, and what farm practices to deploy, taking into account factors such as geographical location, soil nutrition values, rainfall, and more. Making well-informed decisions has saved farmers costs and increased profits.
Challenges Traditional Farmers Face
Rainfall, temperature, and humidity are crucial factors in producing a satisfactory yield. However, pollution and climate change are causing abrupt changes in weather patterns, making it difficult for farmers to make important decisions like harvesting, soil preparation, and sowing seeds.
Soil quality is also critical for crop quality, with nutrients such as Phosphorus, Nitrogen, and Potassium being essential for high-quality crops. Traditional agriculture methods make it almost impossible to identify whether the soil is suitable for crops.
Weeds are another challenge that reduces crop quality and increases production costs. Traditional methods of identifying and removing weeds are inefficient and slow.
In areas with water scarcity, it is challenging to grow certain crops, even with techniques like smart irrigation.
Applications of Tech in Agriculture
Technology is transforming the agriculture sector in India, and here are some ways it is being used:
Weather and Price Forecasting
AI-powered tools can provide more accurate weather forecasts, even with abrupt weather changes, to prevent crop loss before it's too late. Farmers can use weather analysis to determine which crop is best suited for the weather. Real-time data can be used to forecast prices for the next few weeks in the locality, helping farmers make smart decisions.
For example, Meghdoot is an app that provides crop advisory, current weather information, and past and forecasted weather information for five days related to rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind speed, and direction, etc. The app aggregates contextualized district and crop-wise advisories issued by Agro Met Field Units (AMFU) every Tuesday and Friday with forecast and historic weather information. The app is a joint initiative of India Meteorological Department (IMD), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and has more than 100k downloads.
Monitoring Crop Health
Soil quality is essential for high-quality crops, but with deforestation and reusing soil every year, soil nutrients are lost. AI-powered tools like Plantix identify nutrients in soil, plant pests, and diseases. This helps farmers understand when to use fertilizers and assess the quality of their crops.
AI is widely used in agriculture to perform various tasks on the farm, including checking crop quality, detecting and preventing weeds, and harvesting. PrecisionHawk is a company that produces drones that help farmers assess soil fertility, allowing agricultural professionals to apply fertilizer efficiently and minimize wastage. Drone-based mapping can be used to see growth trends, count and size plants, generate prescription maps, identify early indicators of plant stress, and measure the zonal efficiency of the farm, all through a turn-key, web-based platform.
AI-powered technology with sensors can detect weeds easily, and after finding the weeds, they can be precisely sprayed to reduce herbicides. Herbicides are toxic to plants and are used to destroy unwanted weeds. Using AI saves time, reduces the excess use of chemicals in fields, improves the quality of crops, and saves money.
For example, Blue River Technology's "See & Spray™" machines use deep learning to identify a greater variety of plants, including crops and weeds, with better accuracy, allowing farmers to make crop management decisions on the spot. Custom nozzle designs enable plant-by-plant spray resolution, and powerful software powers faster and more agile crop protection.
Overall, technology is revolutionizing the agriculture sector in India, providing farmers with the tools they need to make informed decisions and increase profitability. We invite you to get in touch with us to learn more about implementing these technologies
(This article was written by Mohammed Shafi is pursuing his MBA from NIT Tiruchirappalli, and is a Research Intern here at Cyces)