Enabling Modern Agriculture Through IoT

Modern agriculture in India is undergoing a fresh wave of revival

Since the first green revolution in the 1960s that radically transformed the face of Indian agriculture, the sector has consistently been a major contributor to India’s GDP. Recently at Davos, it was estimated that the Indian economy will reach $5 trillion by 2022 where agriculture would contribute to $1 trillion of the GDP alone. 

To achieve this growth, modern agriculture in India is undergoing a fresh wave of revival by adopting technologically sophisticated manufacturing processes that will lead to better crop yields. Our current farming practices have truly entered the automated digital age led by the Internet of Things (IoT). Digital technology has become a powerful ally in aiding farmers’ decision-making, productivity and competitiveness.

AgTech: A Powerhouse in Modern Agriculture 

Smart farming in India is poised to leverage the power of IoT to derive benefits on various fronts. Ground-breaking technologies such as IoT, AI and Blockchain are being integrated to traditional farming processes. Several longstanding problems such as poor quality of yield, improper management of resources and adverse effects of climatic changes on farming are being effectively addressed through the utilization of such technologies. This simply means that the next generation of farmers would have access to valuable data-driven intelligence on selection and harvesting of crops, live tracking of weather conditions, predicting pricing trends, and a host of other unique benefits by leveraging these technologies. 

Further, Big Data and IoT connectivity are rapidly driving field implementations in agriculture. For example, high-quality sensors are deployed on the field to collect data on critical factors such as light, humidity, temperature, soil moisture, water salinity, soil nutrition, rainfall pattern, etc. These gold mines of data can be effectively mined to derive valuable insights which, at a large scale can help in understanding key variables to successful farming of various crops. 

Autonomous irrigation is another example where IoT has made a tremendous difference to how farmers manage irrigation across widespread fields in an automated, data-driven manner using sensors and smart irrigation systems. The most popular use case being the usage of intelligent irrigation sensors that keep a tab on the water level and automatically control the overall irrigation and sprinkler system; and flood sensors, which manages water levels and prevents over-watering or flooding of fields by automatically controlling water control valves. 

The Domino Effect

As IoT sweeps across the agricultural landscape, it brings in its wake other emerging and innovative technologies, including monitoring systems to track livestock health — temperature, health, activity, and nutrition insights on each individual animal — in real-time through wearables attached to them. This helps to seamlessly track animals’ health (and location) and identify animals that are sick to effectively separate them from the herd and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. There have even been instances where IoT has helped optimize grazing patters, improve milk productions — which can be very helpful in a country like India that accounts for 16% of global milk production — and reduce cattle mortality rates.  

IoT models close association with cloud technology has also become a boon to farmers. This close association is not only providing them with anywhere and time access — which they were craving for since a long time — but also supporting automation of actions based on defined data parameters thus enabling greater levels of efficiency at lower cost structures.

The Bottom-line:

India, being a dominant producer of many different types of crops, stands a lot to gain from cost effective adoption of such technologies to enable greater levels of efficiency in farming. While agriculture is often overlooked in India and around the world as a consumer of IoT, it is in fact, one of the industries that stand to gain the most. 

Currently, most of the IoT use cases are concentrating urban initiatives through Smart City programs that are well funded. A similar approach to farming could enable the industry, and consequently, the output of produce and surrounding cost structures in a significant manner. 

Improving modern agriculture through digitisation should be driven holistically with equal focus on legislation, technology, and usability. Smart Farming would certainly assist in improving the yield and ROI for farmers, and a broader group of stakeholders that go beyond the industry itself. Without doubt, the path to progressive farming through IoT will truly steer Indian farming towards further innovation and a new revolution. 

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