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Drone Technology in Agriculture : A Viable Solution to Address Food Security Issue

Significance of technology in agriculture has its own importance because it is mostly associated with provide results, for feeding a nation’s population. On the back of environmental degradation, pollution, and water scarcity, finding our ways for food security is always a priority based question that needs to be addressed. Involvement of Hi-tech agriculture has increased of late

Abhijeet Banerjee

Significance of technology in agriculture has its own importance because it is mostly associated with provide results, for feeding a nation’s population. On the back of environmental degradation, pollution, and water scarcity, finding our ways for food security is always a priority based question that needs to be addressed.

India is yet to enhance productivity and efficiency in the sector to reach the highest potential, regardless of Indian agriculture's contribution to the GDP. There are number of areas and concerns that are necessary to identify, and after identifying they be addressed with resolutions.

Currently most of the producers are adopting unsuitable methods for monitoring crops, water irrigation, using pesticides, etc. The resources are inadequate, and not allotted according to weather conditions, or have not been exploited to their maximum potential. This would explain why our growers have to face a lower Return on Investment (ROI), quite often. These challenges have offered numerous opportunities for growth and development in the world of technology. Involvement of Hi-tech agriculture has increased of late. The influence of technology in the agricultural sector has been alwaysproductive since its commencement.

The use of Drone technology has the potential to provide a sustainable solution in context of enhancing the productivity as well as efficiency of the Agriculture sector. A drone, in technological terms, is an unmanned aircraft. Essentially, a drone is a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.

External factors such as weather, soil conditions, and temperature play a critical role in farming. Agriculture drone empowers the farmer to adapt to specific environments and make relevant choices. The gained data helps regulate crop health, crop treatment, crop irrigation, pursue field soil analysis, and evaluate crop damage.

The drone survey helps boost crop yields and minimize time and expenses. The Indian government has already acknowledged the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), machine learning, and artificial intelligence with their 'Digital Sky Platform' online.

Some of the best practices of Drone Technology are:

1) Aerial Imaging:

The drones are well-equipped with many features like multi-spectral and photo cameras for monitoring crop stress, plant growth and predict yields; more advanced drones that are able to carry and deliver props like herbicides, fertilizer, and water.It can be utilized through a drone as a service type operation.It has a feature of scheduled flyovers or can be stored on site and used when required.It is stored at weatherproof docking stations.

2) Irrigation Monitoring:

The drone machines can recognize areas that are too dry or need improvement by the farmer. Drone survey helps improve water efficiency and point out potential pooling/leaks in irrigation by providing irrigation monitoring yields, necessary to evaluate the health of crops as well as emitted heat/energy.

3) Monitoring and Surveillance of Crop Health

Quick monitoring and discoveries of any defects are beneficial in saving the crops. For assessing the health of any vegetation or crop, it is crucial to monitor the spot bacterial/fungal plagues during the early stages. Agriculture drones can view the different amounts of green light and Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) light, reflected by the plants. This data then produce multispectral images to track the crop health.

4) Crop Damage Assessment

The drones when fitted along with multispectral sensors and RGB sensors, can easily detect field areas inflicted by weeds, infections, and pests. Based on this information, one can know the exact amounts of chemicals needed to fight these infestations, thereby optimizing the overall cost for the farmer.

5) Analysis of Field Soil

The drone survey allows farmers to obtain information about their land's soil conditions. Seizing data, which is useful for seed planting patterns, thorough field soil analysis, irrigation, and nitrogen-level management, is possible through Multispectral sensors. Farmers are able to analyze their soil conditions thoroughly through precise Photogrammetry and 3D mapping techniques.

6) Spraying &Planting

Drone planting systems have been developed by many startups which allow drones to shoot pods, their seeds, and spray vital nutrients into the soil. This technology increases consistency and efficiency of crop management, besides reducing the cost by nearly 85%.

Crop spraying through this technology prevents human contact with the harmful chemicals. In fact this task is much quicker than vehicles/airplanes. Professionals have observed that aerial spraying is five times faster with drones when compared to other methods.Drones with RGB sensors and multispectral sensors can precisely identify and treat the problem related areas.

7) Livestock tracking

Apart from keeping track of crops by the farmers, use of drones also help monitoring their cattle movements. Thermal sensor technology helps find lost animals and detect an injury or sickness. This feature contributes in enhancing the crop production.

The adoption of modern technologies in agriculture, such as the use of drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can revolutionize the way we prepare for and respond to disasters that affect the livelihoods of vulnerable farmers and the country’s food security. The drone technology has received rapid attentions in the recent decade because of its diversity and considered extremely useful for the agrarian community. Drones don't merely enhance overall performance but also encourage farmers to solve other assorted barriers and receive plenty of benefits through precision agriculture. Drones are beneficial in filling the gap of human error and inefficiency by traditional farming methods. The purpose of adopting drone technology is to eliminate any guesswork or vagueness and instead focus on accurate and reliable information or data. According to experts, the predicted world population will be 9 billion by 2050.

Agricultural consumption is also said to increase simultaneously by nearly 70%. As governments and business entities across the country have recognized the significance of food security and the consequences of environmental degradation, pollution, and water scarcity, the urgency to overcome the existing challenges shall rise in near future and encourage the usage of the drone technology in Agriculture.

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