In India, agriculture supports 58% of the population. Around 51% of India’s geographical area is under cultivation. Major shares of its GDP come from agriculture sector. Government recently launched some major schemes like crop insurance, per drop more crop, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna to enhance the productivity of the crops. Initiatives like organic farming and increase the production of pulses etc. are also been taken.
In order to implement these programs effectively it is vital to use the latest technologies like remote sensing and GIS. Just imagine that the decision makers can visualize all the farmlands with their allied information and current situation on one click. The tasks like yield estimation & crop damage assessment done by traditional means take month or two and a whole lot of manpower to complete the work. By using these technologies the same task can be completed within half or even in lesser time frame with minimum number of resources and high accuracy.
Balancing the inputs and outputs on a crop farm is essential to its success and cost-effectiveness. The ability of GIS to study and envisage agricultural environments and workflows has proved to be very favourable to those involved in the farming industry. While natural inputs in farming cannot be measured, but, can be better understood and managed with GIS applications such as crop yield estimates, soil amendment analyses, and erosion identification and remediation.
Agricultural plants, as living organisms, require water and nutrients in order to grow and are sensitive to extreme weather phenomena, diseases and pests.Remote sensing can provide data that helps identify and monitor crops. When these data are organised in a Geographical Information System (GIS) along with other parameters, they become an important tool that helps in making decisions about crops and agricultural strategies.
Who needs remote sensing for agriculture?
Govt. authorities or local agencies can use remote sensing data, in order to make important decisions about the policies they will adopt, or how to tackle national issues regarding agriculture. Individual farmers can also receive useful information from remote sensing images, when dealing with their individual crops, about their health status and how to deal with any problems.
Importance of Remote Sensing and GIS
To identify the potential land for any particular crop, GIS is the best technique as it brings all the data on a single platform for the analysis. Different vegetation indices like NDVI, FPAR, and TVI etc. are widely used to monitor crop health which is also directly proportional to yield. In case of crop insurance, actual damage can be assessed; claims and compensations can be given on fair basis.
To monitor crop health, its growth and production various factors come into play such as temperature, irrigation facilities and the most important soil health condition. For this purpose government has launched a nation-wide scheme called soil health card.
Under this scheme mapping of soil is done along with its nutrient and sub-nutrient information like pH content, nitrogen, phosphorus, soil moisture etc.
Mapping of soil has been done by Ceinsys in Jharkhand state of India. The project was successfully implemented in 06 districts of Jharkhand State covering 13000 Sq. Km. area.
It is the need of an hour to introduce latest technologies in agriculture to enhance its production and also help decision makers to take quick and robust decisions. Thus we can conclude that space based technology along with GIS integration will be an integral part of agriculture sector in recent and coming years.