3 minute read 7 Jan 2022
Modern farming technology

How can technology feed a growing world?

By Dr. Sandeep Parikh

Partner – Value Engineering (Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Process Mining)

Technology leader; Digital strategy expert; Global business innovator; AI and automation advisor; Honorary AI doctorate; Author and inventor

3 minute read 7 Jan 2022

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A look into the key drivers and demands to unlock digital transformation in the agriculture sector.

Globally, farmers are searching for ways and means to improve yield and quality of crops, and reduce loss due to wastage, pests, and poor nutrition. At the same time, in countries like India where land-holdings are small and there is a lot of reliance on cattle, farmers are looking for ways to increase yield. While a farmer wants to make more money, issues like environmental degradation due to activities like stubble burning need our urgent attention and smart solutions. This is where Intelligent Automation, drones and IoT (Internet of Things) sensors led crop management solutions come into play.

Intelligent Automation technologies such as Data sciences, robotic process automation (RPA), Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and drones are providing much-needed solutions to these problems. To achieve desired results, farmers need ample information to understand multiple aspects, such as long-term weather forecasts to determine when and where to plant and what to plant. They also need data on soil quality through continuous monitoring, which could ensure that farmers provide soil nutrients at the right time and  optimize their irrigation measures.

Data provided through drone and IoT sensor-based monitoring ensure that the farmers can become proactive in avoiding damage to plants and crops due to infections.

Data analyzed from global events and commodity exchanges can help farmers predict what kind of prices they can expect for the purchase of input materials, including seeds and fertilizer, sale of crops they grow, and logistics. 

Information can come from many sources - the Internet, local agriculture research institutes, government, satellite and smart sensors placed in the soil, in drones, and in farm equipment such as harvesters and tractors. This real-time information is used to monitor, measure, and predict and improve yields of farmlands.

Internet of cows

RFID (radio frequency identification) chips can be implanted on cattle to mine data on vaccination, fodder, weather and cattle health, and predict and improve the yield of milk and milk fat.

Collating and analyzing such data manually is error-prone, time-consuming and, in most cases, post facto. One has to bear in mind that farming is a farmer’s key competency, not managing data.

Intelligent Farming involves leveraging a simple mobile phone (not limited to smart ones) that can receive data collected from drones, satellites, and IoT sensors that operate directly at the plant level and are connected, for example, to cloud-based systems.

By leveraging Intelligent Farming, farmers can expect:

  1. Better yield and quality of crop
  2. Reduced crop growing cost per acre of farmland
  3. Optimized irrigation and hence reduced water consumption
  4. Reduced risk of crop loss and low yield
  5. Increased in revenue for the farmer
  6. Improved environmental protection
  7. Improved cattle yield

This article was originally published on ETCIO.

Summary

While the Intelligent Farming technology is available today, deployment costs are currently high, not reliable due to poor connectivity in rural areas and not entirely durable. However, a collaboration between the farming community, government and industry can bring down this barrier and help big and small farmers and rural communities’ benefit from this technology-led transformation.

About this article

By Dr. Sandeep Parikh

Partner – Value Engineering (Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Process Mining)

Technology leader; Digital strategy expert; Global business innovator; AI and automation advisor; Honorary AI doctorate; Author and inventor