Big Data in Agriculture


May 28, 2014
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Agriculture is the “life-line” for human survival and it has continuously evolved to cater the needs of ever-growing human population.Still  challenges like climate change,land degradation and bio-diversity loss has  reduced crop yield due to retarded efficiency of existing techniques. Hence application of technology tools like Big data can enable innovative/improved agricultural techniques to improve crop-production.

Mobile devices/sensors attached to farming equipments(like tractors)  helps in collecting diverse agricultural information(like soil nutrients, ground area, climate etc) quickly with higher precision. The generated information combined with historical data gives a more clear picture on correlation  between crop yield and  agricultural parameters (ike soil nature, climate and cropping practices like no-till farming).Big data is useful in precision farming to make decisions like choice of crop, planting depth, choice of fertilizers, required quantity of water etc.It can also  forecast challenges like absurd weather conditions, crop-diseases and suggest ways to mitigate them.

The integrated farming picture that emerges from the collective big-data analysis ensures easy decision making. Still the farmer’s intuition(gained by years of farming experience) shall be a critical factor in choosing relevant information to make the final decision. Some Farmers may have lack of exposure to technology that can make them to ignore its usage. They may also assume that time spent in field is more useful than time spent in using technological gadgets. Hence they should  be educated about the value/benefits of big-data and how to effectively use technological  devices/tools to reap benefits.

The human population is expected to grow upto 9 billion by 2050 and so is the need for food. Big data has the capability to fill the void in the existing agricultural practices to drive the increase in crop-yield to satisfy the growing need for food. It can provide insights on matching soil varieties and climatic conditions to chose crops, strategies to reduce fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide applications. Hence farmers have less choice to stay out of the big-data revolution in agriculture  which is expected to  gain traction in the future