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Digital Technology for Environment-Friendly Agriculture

We stand at a tipping point where we can no longer afford to practice agriculture that is unsustainable.  For several decades now, we have witnessed the impact of conventional agriculture and its ill-effects – widespread environmental degradation, particularly due to the excess use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.  An alternative to this method came with the aid of digital technology that supports environment-friendly, sustainable agriculture.  The buzzword in the agriculture world today is precision farming, which is aptly aided by digital technology.  Precision farming is all about optimizing every kind of resource – be it water, fertiliser or pesticide, and ultimately, helps in conserving resources, and at the same time, reduces environmental degradation while increasing productivity. 

Types of digital technologies aiding precision farming 

The adoption of digital technologies in agriculture is on an upswing today and is changing the way farmers and agri-businesses manage their crops.  Use of digital technologies can help modernise agricultural production practices, leading to more uniform annual returns for farmers, reduced risk of crop failure and better yields.  Some of the major digital technologies in precision farming include mobile applications to collect the ground truth data and combining it with the satellite / remote sensing, GIS and on the ground sensors data which can be analyzed using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.  Some of the applications of these technologies include farm management, crop health monitoring (mostly based on NDVI – normalised difference vegetation index), yield monitoring and forecasting, detection of diseases, pests or weeds, weather forecast, irrigation planning and soil quality testing. 

Data management is another area where digital technologies come in handy.  Farm management platforms, for example, help farmers and agri-businesses manage their crop production.  These platforms can be integrated with different hardware devices that are used in precision agriculture.  The data from these devices can be aggregated on a central platform where they can be processed and analysed to help make better decisions on how to manage their operations.   

Conserving water, the key resource 

One of the major advantages of digital technology in precision farming is water management.  As we have seen, water shortages account for the biggest problem for agriculture around the globe.  In traditional and conventional farming, the tendency has always been to use water and fertiliser in excess.  When the wasted water and fertiliser flow into groundwater, it will potentially contaminate the ground water leading to a health hazard.  On the contrary, the use of digital technologies in farming can help assess the right amount of water to use, and of course fertiliser.  Using such digital technologies help minimise the amount of water and fertiliser required to keep the soil in proper condition.  Adopting these technologies might mean a shift in the thought process of the farming communities and the agencies engaged in farming – one that will entail moving away from the ‘habitual’, run-of-the mill method and into the concept of farming that is optimised with data.   

Benefits 

In a nutshell, applying digital technologies in agriculture promotes efficiency in the use of inputs and resources.  It improves both the quality and quantity of yield and produces higher yield in the same amount of land.  It reduces the environmental footprint, while reducing risk of many kinds, especially those related to weather and crop health. 

The future of technology-driven, environment-friendly farming 

The adoption of digital technologies to propel environment-friendly farming is witnessing widespread uptake and will have a significant impact on the agricultural industry.  Overall, the use of digital technologies for precision farming will drastically raise agricultural productivity.  These technologies have increased the value of the land by making it possible to produce more crops per acre.  In the end, sustainable, environment-friendly agriculture is not just about survival.  When we’re racing towards the goal of food production, the welfare of the food producers should be at the core, and digital technologies should all the more help conserve the non-renewable resources at their disposal.  


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Krishi Jagran Marketing
Krishi Jagran