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Flying High: The Future of Drone Technology in Indian Agriculture

The predicted world population will be 9 billion by 2050, and with that the Agricultural consumption is estimated to increase by nearly 70%, according to experts. Considering this, agricultural drone technology is undoubtedly the future of the Indian agrarian community.

Kanika Dhamija

The predicted world population will be 9 billion by 2050, and with that the Agricultural consumption is estimated to increase by nearly 70%, according to experts.  

The adoption of modern technologies in agriculture, such as the use of drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can revolutionize the way we prepare for and respond to disasters that affect the livelihoods of vulnerable farmers and the country’s food security. 

External factors like weather, soil conditions, and temperature play a critical role in farming. Agriculture drone empowers the farmer to adapt to specific environments and make mindful choices. The gained data helps regulate crop health, crop treatment, crop scouting, irrigation, and carry out field soil analysis and crop damage assessments. The drone survey helps boost crop yields and minimize time and expenses. 

The Indian government has acknowledged this and the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), machine learning, and artificial intelligence with their 'Digital Sky Platform' online. Drone startups in India have used this opportunity to accomplish better technological capacities.  

Plethora of Advantages 

Drone technology, equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and remote sensing features, is rising in demand because of its advantages. 

  • Farmers can improve production capabilities through comprehensive irrigation planning, adequate monitoring of crop health, increased knowledge about soil health, and adaptation to environmental changes.

  • Drone usage results in regular updates to farmers about their crops and helps develop strengthened farming techniques. They can adapt to weather conditions and allocate resources without any wastage.

  • It is safer and more convenient for farmers to use drones to spray pesticides in terrains challenging to reach, infected areas, taller crops, and power lines. 

  • Drone surveys back farmers with accurate data processing that encourages them to make quick and mindful decisions, allowing farmers to save the time invested in crop scouting. 

  • Various sensors of the drone enable capturing and analyzing data from the entire field. The data can focus on problematic areas such as infected crops/unhealthy crops, different colored crops, moisture levels, etc. 

  • Agri-drones enable optimum usage of all resources such as fertilizer, water, seeds, and pesticides.

  • Farmers can use the data captured through drones to claim crop insurance in case of any damages, and provide evidence for insurance companies.


Widening Possibilities  

Drone industry and the market in India are at a very nascent stage - and there is an immense potential for growth in both. According to 6Wresearch, UAV market in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of 18% during the period from 2017 to 2023. Continuous research and rapidly evolving software and hardware has contributed to widening the possibilities even further. Here are a few examples of its success: 

  • A specialized force constituted “for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster” has been using UAS for locating victims of natural disasters.

  • Indian Railways is using UAS for inspection and 3D mapping to bring to life its vision of a dedicated freight corridor with a network of 3,360 km. The entire corridor will be mapped using UAS technology.

  • In November 2019, Coal India used drones to check illegal mining and pilferage, a system which it had already tested in a pilot project.

  • An autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of National Highways has employed the use of drones for 3D digital mapping for Detailed Project Report (DPR) for road widening of the Raebareli – Allahabad Highway. 

 145 Agriculture Drones start-ups, globally! 

The ecosystem of drone startups in India is just taking off and private players are all set to enrich it with a much-needed competitive edge. Globally there are over 145 Agriculture Drones start-ups that are working to raise the technological standards and reduce the prices of agriculture drones. The future indeed is promising and exciting! 

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