Agriculture in India has demonstrated resilience through the years. Most recently, during COVID19, it was one sector of the economy that absorbed the vagaries of the times well. There is, therefore, a need to ensure we promote robustness in the sector. One of the biggest challenges today, however, is the dependence on the environment. In the past few months, erratic weather patterns have been detrimental to our crops.
The need of the hour is to build a sustainable ecosystem in agriculture by leveraging technology. Modern practices of data management, AI and blockchain can further enhance efficiencies in our cultivation. Many innovative solutions have shown promise. In this context, there are five specific aspects of AgTech that can enhance food security for our future while also protecting the impact on our environment.
- Precision Farming: Cultivating with Precision
Precision farming, also known as precision agriculture, revolutionizes the way farmers manage their crops. By using advanced technologies such as GPS, sensors, and drones, farmers can precisely monitor and control various aspects of crop cultivation. This includes optimizing irrigation, fertilization, and pesticide application, resulting in reduced water usage, minimized chemical inputs, and improved crop yield. Sustainable agriculture through Agritech embraces precision farming as a cornerstone for eco-friendly practices.
- Smart Irrigation: Efficient Water Management
Water is essential for agriculture yet one of the most under-utilised resources given that 70% of the fresh water used for agriculture is wasted. Agritech offers smart irrigation solutions that ensure water is used sparingly and effectively. Soil moisture sensors and automated irrigation systems enable farmers to deliver the right amount of water precisely when and where it is needed. This eliminates water wastage, prevents over-irrigation, and promotes healthier crop growth, all while conserving water resources.
- Crop Monitoring and Biological Pest Control: Detecting Problems Early
Agritech enables farmers to monitor their crops closely, helping them detect issues early on and take timely corrective measures. With the help of remote sensing technologies, satellite imagery, and drone surveillance, farmers can identify plant diseases, nutrient deficiencies, or pest infestations before they escalate. This proactive approach reduces the need for excessive pesticide use and prevents crop losses, leading to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly farming system.
In sustainable agriculture through Agritech, biological pest control methods take center stage. Instead of relying heavily on chemical pesticides, farmers can utilize natural predators and beneficial insects to control pests. For instance, ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps are introduced into the fields to combat harmful pests, reducing the dependence on harmful chemicals. This practice promotes a balanced ecosystem, safeguarding pollinators and other beneficial organisms while effectively managing pests.
- Controlled Environment Agriculture: Protection for Seasonal Shifts
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) has shown the way for food security. Using CEA, lands that were considered unfit for cultivation have become oases for plants. Deserts and barren lands can be brought under cultivation. Across the world, cultivation in greenhouses has become standard practice. The benefits of growing in greenhouses goes beyond just seasonal availability of produce to better quality and higher yields. In India, with a model for marginal farmers to gain benefits, CEA promises many possibilities for expansion.
- Scientific Growing Systems: Aquaponics & Hydroponics
While agriculture has always been associated with soil and many primary systems stress of the importance of soil health for sustainable agriculture, today, soilless farming systems of aquaponics and hydroponics offer faster and safer solutions for sustainability. Using sensors and actuators for nutrient management, fertilizer application and plant growth management, soilless farmers can produce better quality of produce with lesser environmental impact on land. In these farms, there is no contamination of the soil and many of these farms, while being sustainable, also prevent pollution by being zero discharge systems.
AgriTech can have greater impact on our efforts in sustainability. The need at present is to bring collective action for research in this sector.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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