IBM Research Lab to transform farm sector in India

By using Watson cognitive technology, IBM India Research is now looking to help farmers determine potential crop yields and protect against pests, an effort that could increase the use of such data in farmer loans and insurance.

The technology is a part of a solution called Precision Agriculture which involves the use of a few strategically placed sensors and remote sensing data from satellites to answer questions about the state of the soil, moisture content, weather data and susceptibility to pests.

The company is also using its cognitive technology to help farmers to identify the infestation of pests earlier and in working out supply chains and grain storage. The research lab also focuses on the financial sector and education space in India and is one of the company's most prolific labs in Asia-Pacific when it comes to patent filings. IBM was granted 8,088 patents in 2016, out of which 658 were filed by IBMers in India.

"Blanketing a farm with sensors is extremely expensive and hard to manage. But data from a small amount of local sensors and data from satellites can be married using cognitive technologies — a process called cognitive fusion. We can answer those questions in a cost-effective way," said Sriram Raghavan, director of India Research Labs.

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