Agriculture has always been a lifeline for India. Even though with age, India has made a mark in various spheres and has progressed in the manufacturing sector by leaps and bounds, but agriculture still remains one of the key drivers of the economy. Worldwide, India ranks second in farm output and accounts for about 50% of the country’s workforce. But this isn’t a new phenomenon.
From ancient times, agriculture has played a vital role in India’s growth and can be traced back to Indus Valley Civilization. Rich fertile land, plenty of water for irrigation, and domestication of crops and animals were some of the key factors for its success. Other areas where agriculture was a predominant force for rising and fall of many kingdoms were the Gangetic Plain and the Deccan Peninsula area. Even then, the constant evolution of science and technology helped agriculture immensely.
Since then Indian agriculture has witnessed many phases. However, the real success of scientific farming and use of various technologies in agriculture can be attributed to the Green Revolution. In the 1960s when India was grappling with frequent droughts, Green Revolution came as a God’s blessing.
scientific farming practices enhanced the agricultural productivity of the Cuyahoga Valley region in the 19th century, improving the lives of farmers and better protecting the surrounding landscape. These practices included better irrigation and drainage systems, the use of special fertilizers, and the use of machines like tractors and combine harvesters that made farming more efficient. The 1860 agricultural census figures indicate that Ohio was a national agricultural leader, ranking 2nd in the country in cash value of farms. Crop production rankings for Ohio were in the top four for such staples as wheat, Indian corn, and oats.
A new era of scientific farming
While the 1980s can be termed as a transition time, where reforms under the guidance of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had just started steering its way to economic stability, it was only in 1991 during the time of “Liberalization”, India saw some major reforms that gave impetus to the economy. It was during this time that ISRO was also trying its best to launch remote sensing in India. In 1988 the space agency launched Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite – IRA-1A through a Russian rocket. Then in 1991, it launched second operational remote sensing satellite IRS-1B. After this, a series of launches were seen. The space agency went aggressively to put India on the radar of global space giants.
With the country developing the indigenous Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite program, the technology started to support the national economy in the areas of agriculture, water resources, forestry and ecology, geology, watersheds, marine fisheries and coastal management.
Remote sensing since then has played a major role in the scientific advancements of the Indian agriculture sector. Dr M. S. Swaminathan in an interview with the Geospatial World said, “Since then we have developed enormous capacities in the area of remote sensing and today we are one of the finest. We have used it for a number of purposes including land management and agriculture.”
G-tech to propel economy’s growth trajectory
Agricultural scientists believed that remote sensing could help solve many issues, but this ideology took some time to evolve in India. The era of 2000 was a period where a lot of innovations, new Bills and reforms were introduced. One of the major milestones in the country’s journey towards becoming a key player in the knowledge economy was the “Computer Revolution” that started with the 5th Century Indian mathematician Aryabhata I’s introduction of the concept of zero, the basis of all programming.
What is precision farming and what is its scope?
After nearly four decades into the post-green revolution period, the country still grapples with crisis each year in trying to meet the increasing demand for food by its people. As the result of information technology application in agriculture, precision farming is a feasible approach for sustainable agriculture.
With less land available for farming caused due to multiple reasons— soil erosion, soil salinity—scientific solutions will have to be provided to empower the small and marginal farmers.
While advocating for food processing infrastructure at the source of the farm produce, Mashalkar stressed a technology-driven supply chain through use of RIFD, hi-tech GIS/GPS along with traceability system.
The growing use of GIS/GPS and the sensor for planting, irrigation and monitoring yields, would help in both improving the quality and quantity.
Recommending technology for crop insurance, the scientist said, “A mechanism can be evolved to source real-time data from weather stations for predicting rainfall which can be used for calculating the insurance payouts. This can be automatically transferred to the farmer’s accounts using mobile banking.”