Do you know what the most precious thing is today for Indian Agriculture? If you are thinking of rain, improve seeds, better farming techniques, etc., then you are right to a good extent but there is something even vital than these.
What is that vital thing, Nitin? Great question! Use of big data in agriculture is that vital thing, my friend.
At present, if the lack of something is hurting Indian agriculture industry the most then that is data. Indian farmers are making wrong decisions due to unavailability of timely, accurate and actionable data.
Availability of data analytics that provides crop intelligence, forecast disease and damage detection and the like can have a large scale impact on Indian agriculture sector. It can make farming more predictable for farmers across the country.
Further, India is already blessed with an experienced IT sector that has been helping corporations around the globe in improving efficiencies using analytics for three decades. Don’t you think the IT industry can repeat the same success if it teams up with agriculture scientists and other govt depts. that have the data?
Yes, they can and one such move has already been planned by the TCS. One of their recent patent applications discloses a way to use data from various sensors to help farmers in farm clustering.
Also, the patent application says that the same method could be used in ecological forecasting – forecasting of pest or disease infestation, yield prediction, prediction of harvesting time, prediction of growth of plants etc.
What is Cluster Farming?
Cluster farming is a practice where several farmers come together to grow a single crop. This also involves forming an entrepreneurship group that shares both the benefits and burden.
TCS’s system is better in the sense that it doesn’t take only remote sensing and weather data into account. Considering remote sensing and weather data only leads to anomalies. Hence, it is also considering data related to:
Field specific activities –like irrigation type, chemical usage, different other farm operations etc., and
Field specific weather parameters – soil characteristics, humidity at field level, etc
This field specific model in conjunction with remote sensing and weather data will help in better ecological forecasting. Now let’s have a look at how TCS’s new invention can help Indian Farmers.
How is TCS planning to improve farm clustering and ecological forecasting?
To help farmers with farm clustering and ecological forecasting, the system by TCS first captures ground data which comprises of numbers of fields, their measurements and the like. After that, sensors are deployed to get the weather conditions and soil data of the fields.
Once both types of data are accumulated, fields are clustered on the basis of similarity of features. A lot of parameters like crop variety, weather conditions, greenness, availability of water, etc. are utilized to cluster fields.
This is how smart farm clusters will be generated. It’s a no brainer to grow a particular type of crop in fields with similar features.
The next step is the generation of ecological forecasting. Once the field clusters are made, ecological forecasting will be generated and control measure will be recommended to farmers.
The recommendation will be related to pest or disease occurrence, what kind of pesticide and in what quantity it should be used, irrigation, planting, date of sowing and the like.
You can see that all the recommendations and clustering will be based on a lot of data. This will keep farmers of our country from shooting in the dark. After the green revolution, data can bring the next quantum leap in the Indian Agriculture sector.
Last but not the least, not only Indian Farmers but a lot of chemical companies that manufacture pesticide and insecticide are going to get benefit from this invention as well.