Jun 19, 2020
Agricultural exports from India are likely to reach $60B by 2022 because agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India’s population. Total agriculture exports for the year FY19-FY20 stand at $22.69B. In the developing world, roughly 500 million small farms produce more than 80% of the food consumed. Precision agriculture technology is becoming more widely accessible around the globe. New handheld devices and technology can measure plant and soil health, giving farmers the information necessary to accurately calculate fertilizer requirements, water management, and monitor yield. 
The availability, compatibility, and ease of use combine to offer many advantages of using microcontrollers and semiconductor components to create measurement and control systems. Also, there’s a rising trend in the integration of sensors and auxiliary components with microcontrollers. Sensors that ideally suit the requirements for precision agriculture are electromechanical sensors for pH and soil nutrient levels, optical sensors for measuring soil properties, mechanical sensors for soil compaction, dielectric soil moisture sensors, and airflow sensors for measuring soil air permeability.
Automated soil moisture sensors had been installed at multiple locations for cotton, corn, and soybean fields in the US for scheduling irrigations. The sensors are attached with a handheld electronic meter for recording the data. Microcontroller integrated with a real-time clock, AC excitation circuit, memory chip with batteries to read all the sensors to collect data at intervals.
Scaling to Small Agriculture
In the United States alone, small farms make up 91% of nearly 2M farms. This is significant potential and a huge opportunity for integrating precision farming techniques using smartphone sensors and apps, small-scale machinery, etc. Smartphone tools such as camera, GPS, microphone, accelerometer, and gyroscope are used in chlorophyll measurement, crop mapping, predictive maintenance, and detecting equipment rollovers. Smartphone applications have begun to incorporate IoT ideas, data aggregation, and quick processing to bring up-to-date, actionable information to small farmers regarding seeding, weed, fertilizing, and watering.
In India, government schemes like Agri-Udaan mentor start-ups and connect potential investors. e-Nam application to promote a unified national market for agricultural commodities, 100% FDI in the marketing of food products, and e-commerce are bringing out quite many opportunities for helping the agriculture sector. One such example is the Vogue Soil health card, which can be made real-time and app-based for easy access, owing to the increase in the rural household’s smartphone access. Recently announced policy changes can also help in better market access for farmers. Opportunities to connect through smartphones can open new frontiers for the Indian farmer.
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