Monday, February 11, 2013

Precision farming?

There is news of precision farming from various states of India. It seems to me that these are different types of using science and technology and precision farming refers to something else. From a 2008 article in Hindu:
"‘Precision Farming’ is a term that appears to be misunderstood by agriculture scientists in India. This name is indiscriminately used by agricultural institutions to seek funding for their project activities. There is a need to create awareness and present information on precision farming as it is understood in developed countries.
Several steps in scientific farming have been used for more than half a century in western agriculture. They include laser planning of land; chiselling; minimum tillage; complete analysis of soil samples for 12 or more essential plant nutrients; fertilizer placement in the root zone; mechanical and chemical control of weeds; integrated pest management; siphon irrigation; drip and micro-sprinkler irrigation; and ploughing back crop residues in the soil. Indian farmers with their limited knowledge and scanty practical experience on scientific methods of farming are still to adopt most of these steps in their farming operations.
However, the concept of precision farming is outside the domain of these techniques. It is strictly based on the Global Positioning System (GPS), which was initially developed by U.S. defence scientists for the exclusive use of the U.S. Defence Department. The unique character of GPS is precision in time and space. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan released it to various civilian uses such as navigation, earthquake monitoring, and synchronisation of telecom networks.
The initiation of GPS into farm operations is less than a decade old. Its use is fast spreading to all aspects of farm operations and beyond. Some of the areas in agriculture where precision farming is taking hold with implications for the economics of farming are listed below. "
The methods of Grobopatel seem closer to this. Perhaps the government can sponsor similar projects to help 'small' farmers.
P.S. Actually, I am not convinced that 'precision farming' in the above sense is the way to go in all parts of India. There are too many ndependent small farmers and it is not clear that one such sweeping method suits all of India. Whatever the name, the methods described in the above links seem quite attractive too. My feel is that several such methods and the possibilities of adopting precision farming in some areas should all be explored.

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