Precision Farming: The Boon for Small Scale Farmers
Would precision farming be relevant to a small-scale farmer? Most wouldn’t think so. But agriculture in India is dominated by small-scale farmers, almost 78% of them. So how can precision farming impact them positively?
Most small-scale farmers have a small chunk of land on which they grow crops to make ends meet. To do this, farmers must make the most from the small patch of land that they have. Here are some ways precision farming can help them do just that:
Optimal Land Usage
A small-scale farmer has only a couple of acres of arable land or less to grow his food. Contrary to large-scale farmers who have sections of land allocated for storage and processing, a small-scale farmer aims to make the best use of every square-foot of fertile soil. Here’s where precision farming comes in.
Every plant requires a specific amount of area to grow. Excess area will result in wastage, while lesser area will result in a battle for nutrition from the soil. Precision planting aims to space seeds at the right distance, ensures the roots of each plant get adequate nutrition, while the shoots have access to ample sunlight. All this ensures optimal use of land to produce the maximum yield.
Irrigation and water conservation
Whether small, medium or large-scale farming, water is a precious resource. Despite two-thirds of the earth’s surface being covered with water, fresh water is hard to come by. With rapidly increasing demand, our water tables are falling and agriculture is the prime consumer.
Farm irrigation consumes almost 85-90% of fresh water. This means, even 10% water savings in this industry can mean twice the amount available for the rest of the world!
With micro irrigation, farmers can deliver the exact amount of water required by a plant right to the roots, with minimal wastage through run-off, evaporation, stagnation, etc. Each seed can gain access to the right quantity of water exactly when needed, which lowers not only wastage but also cost of production for the farmer.
Fertilizers are another valuable resource for the small-scale farmer. Fertilizers can take up over a third of a farmer’s operating costs. Here’s where precision farming comes in. While precisely planting a seed, the farmer also can inject the adequate amount of fertilizer needed by the seed to germinate.
Once the seeds germinate, it’s over to drip-fertigation to take charge of the plant’s nutritional needs. This process involves combining micro-irrigation with soluble fertilizers in the right proportion to provide crops with the necessary amount of water and nutrition at the same time.
Many still consider precision farming and other modern agricultural techniques to be for medium and large-scale farmers. But even in a country like ours, modern agriculture still has a significant role to play. With the right levels of adoption, farmers across the economic strata can make an impact in agriculture.
After all, we need every square foot of land to feed the world.