DAILY MAINS ANSWER WRITING CHALLENGE
Practice Question 13
Q) What do you understand by precision farming? It is said that future revolution in agriculture is going to come from precision farming and micro-irrigation can be the stepping stone towards achieving the goal of making Indian farming sustainable, profitable and productive. Discuss.
Precision farming, as the name implies, refers to the application of precise and correct amounts of inputs like water, fertilizers, pesticides etc. at the correct time to the crop for increasing its productivity and maximizing its yields.
It originated in the US and European countries. Since the farms in these countries are generally big (> 100 ha), Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology is extensively used in it. GPS allows precise mapping of the farms and together with appropriate software informs the farmer about the status of his crop and which part of the farm requires inputs such as water or fertilizer.
For small farms, precision agriculture may include sub-surface drip irrigation for precise water and fertilizer application and robots for no-till sowing, weed removal, harvesting and other operations.
Future revolution in agriculture is expected to come from precision farming. This is because of numerous advantages it offers:
1. Field is divided into several small and equal divisions through GPS. Soil samples are mechanically taken from each sub-division and this process is technically known as “Grid Sampling.” Samples are tested in a modern soil testing laboratory and fertilizer is applied accordingly. Thus, saves fertilizer cost.
2. Planting variable rates of seed to maximize crop yields from the specific fertility of each grid section.
3. GPS-guided grid system helps to apply variable rates of herbicides and pesticides.
4. Irrigation rates are tailored to the requirement of each grid area improving water use efficiency.
India is home to 17.5% of the world’s population, but only 4% of its fresh water resources. Agriculture consumes some 78% of the country’s fresh-water supply. So there is need for judicious use of water.
Micro-irrigation as stepping stone:
Micro-irrigation systems deliver water savings of up to 40% over conventional flood irrigation methods, along with appreciable crop productivity increases. they can ensure roughly 70% conveyance-efficiency and 90% overall water-use efficiency.
Micro-irrigation has expanded gradually but this is just 13% of the total coverage potential of 69.5 million hectares.
Government initiative in recent budget:
- There is 42% jump in budget allocation towards PMKSY for the current fiscal. Within the allocation for PMKSY, 46% has been set aside for the ‘per drop more crop’ component, an increase of more than 70%.
-A Dedicated Micro-Irrigation Fund with an initial corpus of ₹5,000 crores have been created.
The most important component in taking precision farming forward will be in creating a huge resource of engineers, scientists and agriculturists to develop various components of the technology. Without excellent manpower and consequently good R&D, precision farming will not succeed. Micro-irrigation will be the stepping stone without which no agriculture revolution can be expected.