Sunday, 23 July 2017

Digitising Indian Agriculture - ICT / IOT role in Agriculture - Part 2

ICT / IOT role in Indian Agriculture - Part 2
Some more applications

We talked about how data alone is not going to help and we need analytics on top of the data to get actionable intelligence in our previous blog. We saw two applications of IOT / ICT , namely micro weather station and Greenhouse monitoring.

We are going to talk more applications of IOT / ICT in agriculture. So continuing from where we left

3. Warehouse and Cold chain monitoring
The definition of a cold-chain is "A cold chain is uninterrupted series of storage,
production, logistic and transport while maintaining a desired low temperature range which is necessary to preserve and maintain the shelf life of products like agriculture produce, sea food, frozen food, pharmaceutical products and medicine, chemicals and other products which if not preserved using cooling will get deteriorate from their quality standards".

A large part of agriculture produce is stored to meet future demand and to keep it safe from changing weather patterns and diseases. The table below shows temperature and humidity ranges for  products which are stored in cold storage.

ProduceMin temperatureMax temperatureHumidity
Onion0 and 254 and 3155 - 65%
Banana131485 - 90%
Mango111885 - 90%
Grape-1185 -90%

There are products that don't require cold chain to storage but they also need to be protected from the elements and kept under a controlled climate, e.g. rice and wheat. There is definitely an impact of environmental conditions on every produce.

As per Government of India (GOI) , The harvest and post harvest losses run to the tune of Loss of INR 92, 651 Crores (more than 14 Billion US dollars). Most of post harvest losses happen due to lack of monitoring infrastructure. There is no easy and cost effective way to monitor what is happening inside cold storage. We do not have enough cold storage with climate control facilities. Problem is that losses at post harvest and storage stage are much sever than at the production stage.

You can read more at this link to know the percentage breakup of crops in the post-harvest losses.
Yuktix coldsense device 

Yuktix provides an efficient and reliable cold storage and warehouse monitoring solution under the “COLDSENSE” brand. Yuktix provides wireless sensor nodes (Temperature, humidity and gases), Solar powered and grid powered gateway with edge software and Yuktix sensorDB product to store and analyse the data. You can easily monitor warehouse internal environment data from anywhere using our wireless sensors and gateway. You can download and analyse the data using sensorDB. You can do continuous 24x7 monitoring of product storage conditions.

For example red chili should be stored between 6 degree - 8 degree Celsius. Few days deviation might not effect the quality but if deviation continues for few weeks or a month, it can result in quality reduction and hence export worthiness of the chili. Yuktix COLDSENSE allow you to set alerts using SensorDB and alerts are send to you on SMS or email as soon as a sensor reports deviation from the prescribed range .

SMS based Alert
The cold sense data can be used for thermodynamic modelling of the warehouse which can then help improve the cooling efficiency and reduce the power bill of the cooling tower. That saving of power on cooling towers leads to direct savings (ROI) for the warehouse operators.

We will discuss the Yuktix Cold sense product in a different blog. How cold sense is helping agriculture companies in monitoring their produce in warehouses in order to assure quality checks as well as improve the efficiency of the operations.

4. Farm and livestock monitoring :

About 20.5 million people depend upon livestock for their livelihood which contribute to 16% of the income of small farms household income. It provides employment to 8.8%  of the population in India. IOT/ ICT can play an important role in two ways when it comes to farm and livestock Monitoring.

  • You can monitor health, track real time location, monitor reproductive cycles and calving, maximise milking using IOT.  IOT can be used in after produce of livestock e.g. dairy monitoring. Stellapps, one of the India startup provide solution for livestock monitoring and diary monitoring.
  • You can use ICT to produce organic fodder in a environment controlled hydroponics chamber. You can easily monitor the internal environment, tweak it to come in the range that is most suitable for fast growth of the fodder. ICAR Goa is conducting such experiment. There are some other companies like Hydroponics Kenya , HITECH , FodderTech, Soybean-sprouter

5. Remote Irrigation Control - Without sensor and with Sensor based feedback

Irrigation is one of the most important aspect of agriculture and with climate changes and shrinking water tables, it is going to play a very important role in the future. The irrigation is directly related to the water conservation. If we can do smart irrigation then we can save water.

Yet another example is remote control of irrigation pumps. . Most of the farmers live quite far away from the field and they have to reach the field to turn ON/OFF the motors at odd hours i.e. late in the night and early in the morning. This difficult chore can be automated using ICT/IoT using a mobile phone or sensor feedback based system.

  • Mobile phone based control -Mobile phone based control -– You can call the number and press a button and , your pump would turn ON / OFF depending on the settings. You can control one motor or multiple motor with the same device. One of the well know India company working in this area is KISAN RAJA. Some others are Flybirdinnovation , Avanijal.
  • Sensor based automatic control of the irrigation line -   An automatic version of the previous solution  can be done by measuring the soil moisture with the help of conductance based soil moisture sensors. You then start the irrigation pumps depending on the actual soil moisture conditions. Some companies which are active in this are Corpx, FarmX, Farmobile, Edyn, Hortau, tevatronic, Aquaspy.

    You can irrigate a wide area with just using a single pump and drip irrigation. Such solutions are very effective where there is a water shortage for the crops that need very accurate irrigation like Banana or cotton plants. Using latest communication technologies like LORA or Sigfox , a big and large network of wireless soil moisture sensors can be deployed over a wide area and water supply can be made to specific areas depending on the real time irrigation requirements, thus optimising the usage of precious resource.

    In Gulf countries like Qatar or Saudi Arabia where there is an acute shortage of water, such solutions can prove to be very useful. Here is demonstration of how Yuktix Sensor based irrigation solution can be deployed over a large area using our different IP blocks like Yuktix LORA based soil moisture sensors, Yuktix Weather Station, Yuktix Solar powered gateway and Yuktix SensorDB  

That's all for now folks. Stay tuned for next instalment in our agriculture series. Next we will discuss  

6. NDVI imaging using Drones AgribotixTatransense 
7. Weather based Agriculture disease predictionYuktix Technologies 
8. Plantation Dashboard - Yuktix Plantation dashboard that combines many of above Yuktix solutions together in a one single product.

Happy Farming.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Digitising Indian Agriculture - ICT / IOT role in Agriculture - Part 1

 ICT / IOT role in Indian Agriculture

In our past blogs, we shared information on how Yuktix is playing its role in Digitisation of Indian Agriculture institutes (Here is the link to the blog). We in Yuktix come across lot of enquiries about how IOT / ICT can  play a important role in India Agriculture keeping in mind the harsh economics realities ( 80% of rural house hold have marginal landholdings of 1 hectare and just 7% hold more than 2 hectare which lead to low quarterly revenue and thus low investment in technology - Source). 

I thought, it will be nice to write a blog on different applications of IOT / ICT in Agriculture and how it can make a difference. The rural-urban split of population in India is 68.84% and 31.16% and the level of urbanisation has increased from 27.81% (2001) to 31.16% (2011) which is further expected to increase in incoming years (interesting to note that the growth rate from 2001 to 2011 is less than 1991 to 2001 - Source). 

This incoming urbanisation and population growth will lead to more demand for food and away from the current production centres. More demand for food will require more production from different sectors of agriculture. Now weather is becoming more and more unpredictable due to global warming. It is no more like the earlier days when farmers were confident of looking up at the sky and predicting the rainfall (Source). The increased vagaries of weather are a major cause of concern for agriculture and in turn asking us to use more climate controlled technologies to bring predictable production.

Before start explaining the application of IOT(Internet of things) and ICT (Information and communication technology) in Agriculture, we need to clear a point. The raw data alone is not going to help any farmer. What farmers (and almost everyone else) would want are actionable and easy to follow outcomes on top of data that helps quality and yield. Below is a illustration of how IOT can really be a asset to India Agriculture.

Application of technology to agriculture is a big topic. It can cover areas like micro biology, tissue culture, farm mechanisation, Farm ERP systems, better seeds, better fertilisers, Hydroponics systems, better preservatives, market discovery mechanisms, supply chain improvements, better credit schemes, solar powered farm tools and a host of other things. Here we will focus mainly on application of electronics and computer in agriculture.

The talk of IOT and ICT in Agriculture today is interesting because of many inflection points. The semiconductor and wireless technology is easily available and at price points that would make sense from an ROI perspective of even a small-time farmer when manufacturing is done at production scale. We are going to talk about some of the useful applications of IOT and ICT in Agriculture for Indian Scenario.

1. Research Grade weather Station / Citizen Weather station 
Network of Weather station's run by IMD and some private organisation provide useful weather data to both research institutes and Weather enthusiastic. However with the availability of low cost and high precision semiconductor sensors, there is ample opportunity for research institutes and private parties to move away from a high cost instrument model to off-the-shelf sensor models. The communication options are cheaper, the micro controllers are power optimized and sensors are available off the shelf. It no longer makes sense to continue with the old model unless requirements are of a specific nature.

One of the hallmarks of next generation solutions are instant availability of data and deep analytic integration. The weather data is made available to the researchers instantly with Yuktix SensorDB and thus researchers can focus more on their core area of research rather than trying to collect data from the field.

There are weather prediction and disease prediction models available in public domain (link1 , link2) that researchers can use to analyse occurrence of crop specific diseases. Researcher can use Yuktix API to fetch data and run any computation model on that data to quantify risks of a disease outbreak. More information about research grade weather station can be found at this link

With respect to Citizen grade weather station, we are running one of its type, Bangalore open weather network funded by Citizen's of Bangalore. The data from these weather stations is open to public. We have also release Public API's and many people have used to make their own visualisations (one of the sample is this) . This kind of network prove out to be useful when scaled on a large area like City or state. Then the data can be used by government organisation for various purposes like weather prediction, agri-disease prediction, making a city as a more reliant city (here is a link for one of the interesting analysis we did using Bangalore open weather data)

2. Greenhouse remote  monitoring -  We raised the issue of working with raw data earlier. Most of the people do not have the training, inclination and resources to interpret raw data. What people would like instead is clear set of actionable outcomes that comes from mining the raw data. The question then is, what kind of outcomes can be powered by observing environment data from a greenhouse?

Yuktix battery and solar powered wireless sensor nodes enables greenhouse owners to remotely monitor climate conditions inside a greenhouse.
  • The drift of average temperature in a greenhouse is useful to time the plantation of seeds (Temperature drift play a major role in Rose greenhouses).
  • Disease prediction algorithm like Fire Blight Disease prediction model and Downy Mildew (another link) can be run by feeding the collected data in real time and precautionary measures can be taken before the onset of disease.  
  • Mums (small seedlings for Chrysanthemum) need humidity range between 90-95%. Anything above 95% will cause seedlings to die and anything less then 90% will cause slow growth. 
    The availability of continuous humidity data combined an automated sprinkler system can help owners get more out of their investments.
  • Disease prediction model for Capsicum 
  • Humidity management is a valuable tool to prevent diseases in greenhouses as part of overall Integrated Pest Management. Effective environmental control not only reduces disease pressure and reduces pesticide use, the reentry intervals from pesticide applications are no longer an issue.

The remote-control solutions for greenhouse would allow ideal conditions to be maintained with taking the human error factors out of the equation. You can monitor the conditions on an app and flick a switch on the app to control sprinklers or exhaust fans.
 Here are our earlier blogs about Smart Greenhouses

Stay tuned to know more about other area's where IOT/ICT can be helpful in the filed of Agriculture. 

3. Warehouse / Cold Chain monitoring
4. Farm Monitoring  / Livestock Monitoring
5. Remote Irrigation Control - Without sensor and with Sensor based feedback like Cropx, Farmx, KisanRaja
6. NDVI imaging using Drones - Agribotix, Tatransense 
7. Weather based Agriculture disease prediction - Yuktix Technologies 
8. Plantation Dashboard - Yuktix Plantation dashboard that combines many of above Yuktix solutions together in a one single product.

Happy Farming.