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Smart Tech Farming Seminar held at ICAR-CRIDA

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By RANEE KUMAR

Hyderabad, 22 Feb: An all-enveloping power point presentation (PPP) that was educative and enriching was the crux of a lecture delivered by V Geethalakshmi, Vice-chancellor of Tamil Nadu University, at the Tenth Dr BP Ghildyal Memorial Lecture on Thursday at ICAR-CRIDA, Hyderabad.

Her in-depth analysis on the topic, ‘Smart Technologies for Sustainable Agriculture and Environment’, with illustrations gave the viewers a broad spectrum of the use of various sustainable technologies in diverse fields of agriculture from climate to environs to health hazard prevention to higher yield and overall development in allied fields. The entire talk slanted towards technological innovations and their indisputable benefits vis-à-vis the popular notion of naturalists that these are detrimental to natural plant processes. Every instance underlined the end result, viz. quantity in abundance and the sustainability factor but the quality of the produce was not touched upon.

The highlight of the one-hour plus lecture was the speaker’s experience with Israel’s rose gardens that feed the entire Middle East with their blooms. The sustainable development of rose gardens through application of IoT (Internet of Things)- smart agri/floral/horticulture products are designed to help monitor crop fields using sensors and by automating irrigation systems- a hassle-free, remote monitoring system- has led Israel to bloom with best practices. The speaker revealed how Israel adopted a chip technology that monitored irrigating rose plants with right quantity of water (40-70 per cent). Once the required quantity of water is provided, it automatically switches off.  For external ambience there is a time-oriented, three-layer net to keep temperature in control which is of prime importance for flowers as delicate as roses. The first layer covers up to 10 a.m. when the Sun is not too severe; the second spreads around noon and the third spread is at 2 p.m. to keep the temperatures at optimum level for the flowers. This apart, there is a sulphur-fuming which is done at 4 a.m. when no human being is in the vicinity or is even awake because sulphur fumes can pose a health hazard. At around 6 a.m. all the ventilators of this greenhouse are opened to let the fumes out and at 8 a.m. when the work force walks in, the place is ready and hazard free for the labourers. A standing instance of real sustainable development.

Beginning her talk with the need for smart farming technologies for sustainable agriculture and enumerating all that goes into its purview like application of robots, UAVs, smartphone applications, and sensors for measuring the agri inputs, Geethalakshmi underlined its positive interaction in the food-water-energy synergy. Application of IoT in agri-sector included disease monitoring in crops, feralization monitoring, animals tracking and monitoring, irrigation controlling and water monitoring, precision farming and soil monitoring were major areas which were dealt in-depth. Weather smart forecasting and agro advisories, essential elements in farming, carbon smart soil health monitoring were interesting aspects which were explained in detail. Remote sensoring in large scale in agriculture, imaging and processing, GPS technology application were interestingly modern systems in vogue. Using drones to spray chemicals on crops doesn’t endanger the farmers as they need not be physically present at the site during the process, she stated. The Tamil Nadu and Gujarat examples proved that these smart technology methods when adopted were bound to yield good results and were more of assets that need to be adhered to in this modern era to make agriculture easier and assure rich harvest.  Protected cultivation especially in horticulture and vertical farming where less water is consumed as against natural farming have been successful. She quoted the case of saffron being grown under conditioned environment in a tropical belt like Telangana, with good results in terms of quantity. It was a most comprehensive talk that covered the entire gamut of smart technological resources at hand.

Udit Childiyal shared his knowledge and expertise. Other participants shared their views on carbon emissions in Kerala making February of this year a hotbed in the state. SK Chaudhari, DDG (NRM) ICAR, New Delhi chaired the session.