Agri Business

Technology can lead to more efficient and sustainable farm practices

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 27, 2020 Published on February 25, 2020

BusinessLine Agri Summit on Feb 27-28 in Delhi

 

Technology can play a big role in making Indian agriculture more sustainable, efficient and profitable. The first wave of agricultural technologies that ushered in the Green Revolution has been instrumental in making India food secure. India today is one of the top producers of foodgrain in the world.

Still, Indian agriculture suffers from many fundamental flaws. Productivity of many crops grown in the country is very low in comparison with other countries. Similarly, even though only 60 per cent of arable land is irrigated, the dependence on groundwater for agriculture is among the highest in the world. It is said India’s water use for agricultural purposes is more than that of China and the US put together. The mechanised farming that can help improve productivity is largely unsuitable for Indian farms in the current form as their sizes are too small to be effective.

Technology can help overcome many of these challenges. For instance, gene-edited seeds can improve productivity. The need of the hour is to develop seed varieties with better traits that offer higher yields, or are resistant to diseases and extreme weather conditions. Emerging technologies such as gene editing and speed breeding can be helpful in bringing newer varieties to the farm.

Advances in biology and chemistry, particularly in frontier areas such as nanoscience, can lead to more efficient fertilisers and crop protection products. Nano fertilisers, for instance, can offer better plant nutrients and reduce soil toxicity. They can also minimise the potential adverse effects of excessive chemical fertiliser use, and reduce fertiliser application frequency.

There is a need to make farm irrigation efficient in the country so that precious water can be saved to cover more land. Thanks to sensor-based technologies and micro-irrigation, it is now possible to reduce water use by 90 per cent or more. While all these can make precision farming a reality, advances in artificial intelligence and satellite technologies are particularly important for crop monitoring and yield assessment.

Satellite-based remote sensing, along with other advanced techniques such as global positioning systems and geographical information systems, is helpful in assessing and managing agricultural activities.

The challenge is making these technologies available to Indian farmers, who are predominantly small and marginal, at affordable prices. The BusinessLine Agri Summit, to be held on February 27 & 28, in New Delhi will deliberate on these issues in detail.

Published on February 25, 2020
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