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.






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