Precision farming

Agriculture has been through various trials and turmoil in last few decades. From the time of green revolution the focus on enhanced production and productivity was always a means of indiscriminate use of agrochemicals and exploitation of natural resources. The growing demand of food products and diminishing resources has been a constant topic of concern for technologists and policy makers. The precision farming system as a development paradigm envisages maximizing the efficiency of resources like production inputs, manpower, energy and natural resources like land and water. Thus precision farming technology has evolved as a viable alternative to improve profitability and productivity by means of judicious management of available resources without any adverse impact on environment.

Precision farming is the break-through farming system where the state-of-the-art technology is implemented for a sustainable production, by maximizing the efficiency of the resources through information based management, using appropriate technologies suitable to the production variables such as soil, water, seed, varietal characters of the crop, agrochemical inputs , climate , etc. The efficiency of the production resources are maximized by providing precise quantities of the inputs to the crops in right composition. The decisions are made based on the information compiled on variables like soil fertility status, intake of nutrients by the plants and crop growth parameter. The inputs are provided to plants in an integrated manner where all the required nutrients are provided to the root zone instead of blanket application of major nutrients in the top soil in two or three phases of the crop growth. The information technology tools like GPS systems, satellite imagery, remote data interfaces, etc are also utilized to draw inferences in the decision making process.

Further to the improved efficiency of inputs, precision techniques have its advantages in environmental and ecological aspects. The efficient utilization of inputs will lead to the less wastage and pilferage of agro chemicals to the environment like streams, ground water sources, water bodies and non target vegetative area. Water has become the scarcest resource in farming activity with diminishing ground water levels and erratic rainfall pattern. Precision techniques enable the system to maximize the productivity from the unit quantity of water, thereby conserving the water resources to the communities. The precision farming techniques also plan and preserve the water harvesting programs there by recharging the ground water levels.

Precision farming techniques and these principles are effective in both open farming systems and in protected systems like poly houses and glass houses. The protected environment cultivation will have an added advantage of reduced impact of environmental and climatic factors in the production process. Though the initial investment is high, this will enable precise management decisions, better control on the pest and disease management thus reducing the dependency on agro chemicals. Pest and disease control being a major concern for the farming community as well as consumers where indiscriminate uses of plant protection chemicals are prevalent. Often the maximum residue levels (MRLs) of the pesticides and agro chemicals are much higher than the permitted levels in food products, especially in fresh fruits and vegetables. Precision farming system envisages an effective and need based crop protection plan with prophylactic measures to prevent pest and disease incidences. Also an integrated pest management program is designed with minimum chemicals or with natural or biological control agents.

Accurate crop management activities are followed in the precision farming where crops are provided adequate and appropriate spacing for growth, maintain balanced vegetative growth and physical environment for better performance based on the genetic characters.

These management systems and techniques will eventually result in a more efficient farming system where the energy utilized is minimized for the unit area of production with maximum yield of food crops.

Notwithstanding the general impression that precision farming methodologies are sought for large and extensive farming operations, contrary to the Indian context where farm operations are small and fragmented. Successful adaptation of information technology tools and knowledge based farm management systems has proved effective in integrating different farming units to follow precision farming methods. Further the planning of crops and crop calendar at various farm entities are accomplished and implemented to meet the requirements of market dynamics and crop production planning. Supply chain management and logistics are also integrated to the system for effective intervention in the market.

The highlight of the precision farming techniques and its management systems is that it effectively imbibes the criteria of all major globally accepted quality assurance programs like Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) protocols, sustainability standards and fair-trade principles. This enables an effective quality assurance mechanism that influences a producer-consumer community where quality of the food is assured for a healthy society.

Why high technology precision farming

 •  Kerala has a huge gap in demand and supply of food especially vegetable and fruits.
 •  Increasing population and development activities exert immense pressures on land , compromising the fertile agricultural land for other purpose.
 •  Resources are getting scarce like water , labour and high input cost.
 •  Productivity should increase from unit area to sustain.
 •  Farming should be viable with these issues – solution is to maximize the efficiency of the resources and inputs used.
 •  Poly houses provide a protected environment, provide inputs precisely for the crop growth precise management activities are followed resulting in high productivity.


 •  Maximize the efficiency of the inputs.
 •  Precise inputs like fertilizers are applied at root zone so that the environment – soil and water is not polluted with excess chemicals applied.
 •  Chemicals pesticides , fungicides and herbicides are not used in the production.

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