Sensor-based drone application in agriculture is the need of the hour: JS, MoA

Once the sensor-based applications of drones start then we might not require huge data generation, the senior official in the agriculture minister said
Sensor-based drone application in agriculture is the need of the hour: JS, MoA
Sensor-based drone usage in agriculture is the need of the hour: JS, MoA (Representational image: Shutterstock)

As the technology advances in India, we would soon have sensor-based drone application usage in agriculture for which we all stakeholders have to jointly collaborate. The ecosystem is now in place, and it is up to the industry and startups to leverage this ecosystem, Shomita Biswas, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Govt of India said on Friday.

Addressing the 2nd edition of the international summit on ‘Artificial Intelligence & Digital Applications in Agriculture’, organised by FICCI, Biswas said, “Once the sensor-based drone application in agriculture start then we might not require huge data generation. Currently, we don’t have a sensor-based targeted approach of application of pesticides on nutrients through drones.”
Biswas further said that in terms of farm mechanisation, India is 40 per cent mechanised country, but we now need some parameters by which we can also assess our technological progress as well including use of drones, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), among other modern technologies.
She also urged various universities and institutes working on the judicious use of pesticides through drones to share the data and research findings with all stakeholders. We are saving up to 30 per cent of the pesticides and it will come down further when we adopt a targeted approach as part of sustainable agriculture, she added.
Highlighting the importance of startups, Biswas stated that the startups should work on solutions at a lower cost for the farmers along with providing good after-sales service. “I urge the startups to come forward and provide these services. The government agencies should also involve startups to find solutions for certain services,” she noted.
Sharing his expertise in drone application in agriculture, Dr V Praveen Rao, Vice Chancellor of Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University (PJTSAU) while highlighting the initiatives of the university stated that the last three years have given a lot of insights into the drones. We look at drones in a cyber and physical management cycle. “Due to labour scarcity, we are now seeding rice directly through drones. We are introducing high-intensity planting of cotton in the state, and we want to use drones for this as well,” he added.
Addressing the summit, Dr SK Malhotra, Former Agriculture Commissioner, Chairman, CIBRC and Prjoject Director, ICAR-Directorate of Knowledge Management in Agriculture (DKMA) said, “We are now focusing on smart farming. There are many drone agri startups who are impacting agriculture with appropriate solutions and many more likely to join as this is an upcoming project. “We need to provide the biosolutions to the farmers if we have to do judicious use of consumption of pesticides,” he asserted.

Speaking on the way drone application is going to bring in a big change in agriculture, TR Kesavan, Chairman, FICCI National Agriculture Committee & Group President, TAFE said, “Drone is going to change the way the Indian agriculture will work and technology in agriculture will make it easy for everyone to access. Agricultural technology which can meet the needs of the farmers is going to be a big difference as far as India and the world is concerned.” 
Dr JP Singh, Additional Plant Protection Adviser & Secretary, Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) and Hemendra Mathur, Chairman, FICCI Task Force on Agri Start-ups & Venture Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund also shared their perspectives at the summit.

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