Discuss how the intelligent devices such as robots and drones can enable smart farming? Can such technologies be successful in a cost-sensitive country like India – where the majority of the farmers are small producers?

With increasing population and declining productivity, the global agriculture sector is under pressure.  Technological solutions can help in this regard. Various agriculture technology-based startups are working on technological solutions that can transform the agriculture sector.
Technological solutions like robots, drones and intelligent monitoring systems are being used in research and field trials, artificial intelligence, or machine learning. All this will radically transform the future of farming.
Data analysis and artificial intelligence along with Intelligent Devices can enable better decision-making in farming. For example Variable Rate Fertigation with the help of a GPS based sprayer robot which can vary the nutrient quantity as per the requirement at a local level rather instead of treating all seedlings as equals.  This can help in improving productivity, nutrient use efficiency and therefore increased income for farmers.
Apart from that, some startup from western nations are using robots in fields to selectively removes weeds using image processing or applying herbicides. Similarly, Drones are replacing larger airplanes for crop dusting and satellites for imaging. They can also be used in accessing the real-time data on the weather, soil, air quality, crop maturity.
In India, most of the farmers hold small landholdings leading to poor economies of scale making modern technology, resources unaffordable. However, with proper policy support and future planning, such technological tools can be a solution for India’s agriculture crisis. With the help of internet and smartphones youth population can help in data collection and interpretation from farms. This can transform small farmers to smart farmers. In India, technological adoption will happen in two stages in India. The initial stage will work at an Information level. With the help of information, farmers can take smart informed decisions. The second stage will work at Hardware Level where farmers will share smart farm machinery and there will be a higher degree of intelligence thus making it affordable for small holdings.
With rising, population technology can help in the management of the myriad issues which agricultural sector is facing. With help of technology India can make agriculture a profitable venture and can provide better opportunities to youth population.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Discuss how the intelligent devices such as robots and drones can enable smart farming? Can such technologies be successful in a cost-sensitive country like India - where the majority of the farmers are small producers?

Published: September 27, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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