AI: A boon to agriculture?

The future of agriculture in India depends largely on adoption of efficient production sources that can give optimal production while putting minimal stress on existing resources. AI can kill many birds with one stone – help farmers increase productivity & efficiency by saving time, money and resources along with rich data insights to minimize losses.

  • Conventional farming methods cannot fulfill the need for food crops in the present stage, raising the twin challenges of food security and food inflation.
  • To complicated matters further, Indian agriculture is also associated with a few other challenges such as illiteracy among smaller farmers, preference for conventional method of farming and lack of investment and capital infrastructure.
  • So, agriculture is certainly one of the main areas needing technological assistance to sustainably meet this demand & Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be a great solution.
  • AI can kill many birds with one stone – help farmers increase productivity & efficiency by saving time, money and resources along with rich data insights to minimize losses.

India agriculture tpci

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Agriculture has always been a vital sector in India’s economy, contributing 20.19% to India’s GDP. As the population continues to rise both in India and the world, the demand for food crops and cash crops is also increasing. But at the moment, conventional farming methods cannot fulfill the need for food crops in the present stage, raising the twin challenges of food security and food inflation. Also, the cash crops need to be economically grown because there are limited resources for them.

To complicated matters further, Indian agriculture is also associated with a few other challenges such as illiteracy among smaller farmers, preference for conventional method of farming and lack of investment and capital infrastructure. So, agriculture is certainly one of the main areas needing technological assistance to sustainably meet this demand & Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be a great solution.

How AI is helping agriculture to grow at a phenomenal pace?

It is estimated that the use of AI can help in unlocking the agricultural potential by adding US$ 500 billion to the world’s GDP. Consulting firm, PwC India, predicts agricultural (IoTAg) monitoring to reach US$ 4.5 billion by 2025. Taking note of this, Indian Government, during 2020-21 and 2021-22, allocated funds amounting INR 1756.3 cores and INR 2422.7 crores to the States for introducing new technologies including drones, artificial intelligence, block chain, remote sensing and GIS etc in agriculture.

Source: Forbes India

AI-based technology in agriculture helps in minimizing human intervention as much as possible and to deal with the various uncertainties of the agricultural cycle. For example, it helps farmers analyze a variety of things in real time such as weather conditions, temperature, water usage or soil conditions and thereby reduce the unpredictability of sowing and harvesting seasons. When this irregularity is taken care of, it will save – time, effort and money. 

AI also helps to consider many different factors, like food safety and storage, change in climate and growth or decline in demand for crops, and optimize a strategy that will benefit the whole agricultural system. Besides, AI has helped in improving the production of crops and ramping up the yield. All this has been made possible by introducing real-time monitoring, marketing, harvesting and processing. 

What are applications that help the agriculture sector?

  • Weather forecasting

On 19 March 2022, hon’ble PM of India launched 100 kisan drones to different parts of the country. These devices can help farmers by providing them with advanced warnings regarding the weather. They help them to decide beforehand how to take care of the crops and take the necessary precautions to protect them. They also help them to alter the time of sowing or harvesting by implementing the necessary strategies in advance. 

  • Price forecasting systems

These advanced computing systems use several model datasets to generate ML models that can compute a probable yield price in advance. This helps the farmers to make financial decisions to safeguard their investments and get the maximum return on them. Currently, Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission (KAPC) in collaboration with IBM is on the verge of developing an advanced price forecasting system.

  • Crop health monitoring & precision farming

If there has been a disease outbreak in the plants or it has been affected by a locust attack, then various AI systems help to minimize the losses and also protect the crops. KisanHub, Farmonaut & Orbit Field Scout are a few apps that can help with this.

  • Agri-robots

The days of the harvester and the thresher are a thing of the past now. Various AI robots are being trained with the help of multiple AI and ML techniques to minimise human effort and intervention and automate the entire process. These can be used for numerous processes like crop-harvesting, weed control, mowing, seeding & spraying. Binary Robotics, Robo Technos, Nadaf Agro Industries, Hari Agro Industries and Shpine Technologies are the leading manufacturers of agricultural robots in India.

  • Predictable harvesting

The harvesting techniques have improved manifold due to the methods becoming predictable. Take Cropin, for example. They have created a platform that connects to the cloud, collects data from various corners of the world and creates a database for agriculturists. They can access this data and apply the best techniques according to the situation they have at hand.

  • Sustainable agriculture

Last, but not the least, use of AI will also be a sustainable agricultural practice as AI is able to help farmers adopt the best water consumption models, create more resistant plant varieties that are less prone to losses & bringing down the usage of pesticides. This will, in turn, check the limited resources that the planet has and improve workflow and yield. 
To sum up, the future of farming depends largely on adoption of efficient production sources that can give optimal production while putting minimal stress on existing resources. AI can kill many birds with one stone – help farmers increase productivity & efficiency by saving time, money and resources along with rich data insights to minimize losses. So, farmers need to be imparted with adequate training and exposure to use this technology as it is they who stand to gain from it.

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