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Precision Agriculture

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Precision Agriculture
Rajeew Kumar
G.B.Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar-Uttrakhand

Agricultural sustainability in India can be achieved only if the natural resource base upon which it relies is well managed. However, in attempt to achieve high productivity over past 3-4 decades, a critical linkage between agriculture and the environment fragility has been ignored resulting in agro - ecosystems with little resilience. Even intensively managed cropping systems in India seem to be unsustainable as yield levels have become stagnant or declined with a decreasing response to farm inputs and a widening gap between the potential and realized yields. Rapid increase in population pressure, urbanization and income growth are now exerting extra pressure to further increase production. Hence, for developing country like India, adoption of environment-friendly technologies and holistic approach of farm management is, therefore, essential for agricultural decision making. Modern frontier technologies involving system approach towards efficient crop and input management, and scientific land and water use planning, is thereby the need of this century sustainable agricultural management. This vision is reflected in the concept of 'Precision Agriculture'.


Precision agriculture (PA) - also known as precision farming, prescription farming, variable rate technology (VRT) and site specific agriculture - is a current buzz word among the agricultural circles and considered as the agricultural system of the 21st century, as it symbolizes a better balance between reliance on traditional knowledge and information - and management - intensive technologies. Precision farming involves integrated technologies such as (GPS), (GIS), Remote Sensing, and Variable Rate Technology (VRT), Crop models, yield monitors and precision irrigation.  In brief, precision agriculture refers to tailoring crop and soil management practices according to variation in crop and soil conditions within each field.

 Concept : Precision agriculture is an integrated agricultural management strategy where farmers can adjust input use and cultivation methods - including seed, fertilizer, pesticide, and water application, varietals selection, planting, tillage, harvesting - according to varying soil, crop and other field conditions. It differs from conventional farming that is based on uniform treatments across a field. A key difference between conventional management and precision agriculture is the application of modern information technologies can be viewed as technologies that improves the efficiency of inputs applied but requires higher investment capital and labor than traditional technology. It involves mapping and analyzing within field variability and linking spatial relationships to management decisions, thereby helping farmers to look at their farms, crops and practice from and entirely new perspective. PA thus provides a framework of information with farmers can make both production and management decisions. Precision agriculture technologies provide three basic requirements for precise and sustainable agricultural management. These are:

  • Ability to identify precise location of field,
  • Ability to gather and analysis information on spatio - temporal variability of soil and crop conditions at field level, and
  • Ability to adjust input use and farming practices to maximize benefits from each field location.

Benefits: PA promises to revolutionize form management as it offers a variety of potential benefits in profitability, productivity, sustainability, crop quality, environmental protection, on - farm quality of life, food safety, and rural economic development.  Refinement and wider application of PA technologies in India can help in lowering production costs, enhancing higher productivity and environmental benefits, and better utilization of natural resources. For example, site - specific application of irrigation in wheat of Punjab and Haryana, pesticides in cotton and fertilizers applications in plantations of oil palm in South India and coffee and tea garden of Eastern India can greatly reduce production costs and decrease environmental loading of chemicals.

            When PA technologies judiciously implemented, farmers could be benefited in many ways. In the short term, growers can use forecast based on remote sensing and alleviate problems such as water stress, nutrient deficiency and pests/diseases more affectivity. Database - building benefits will be in the form of accurate farm document keeping for effective management of inputs, property, machinery and labor, and efficient monitoring of environmental quality through recording the amounts and location of input through applying at exact locations that produce maximum profit margins. PF technologies also increase opportunities for skilled employment in farming, and provide new tools for evaluating multifunctional character (including non - market functions) or agriculture and land.

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.