AI, Big Data to be ‘game-changer’ in agricultural

Held in New Delhi, the 3rd India Agricultural Outlook Forum discussed key challenges before the agricultural sector

September 26, 2019

Agriculture is slowly becoming digital with AI showing promising potential in three major categories: agricultural robotics, soil-and-crop monitoring and predictive analytics.

Data related to soil health, Kisan credit cards, crop insurance and even landholdings are getting digitised that can be utilized to target farmers better for government schemes

The agriculture ministry signed a statement of intent with technology company IBM for a pilot study on using artificial intelligence and weather technology solutions in agriculture

The insights from this study will tell the farmer when and how much to irrigate a field, crop health, weather predictions, pest infestations and even drought conditions

The 3rd India Agricultural Outlook Forum, held in New Delhi on September 26, deliberated on the Universal Basic Income for Farmers and other key challenges before the agricultural sector including the ways to manage excess production, price forecasting, artificial intelligence (AI), water management, input markets, insurance, etc. India is putting special focus on investment and innovation around new technologies such as AI and big data to better equip the agricultural sector for future market conditions.

AI and big data are expected to be ‘game-changers’ in the agricultural sector in India. Agriculture is slowly becoming digital with AI showing promising potential in three major categories: agricultural robotics, soil-and-crop monitoring and predictive analytics. Farmers are already using sensors and soil sampling to gather data which is stored on-farm management systems that allow better processing and analysis. This data, along with specific algorithms, can be combined with weather information sourced from satellites to create customised AI software for different agricultural regions in India.

Already, the government has started collating the data of farmers registered under major schemes. There is data related to soil health, Kisan credit cards, crop insurance and even landholdings that are getting digitised. This data can be leveraged for better targeting of the scheme. According to a statement by Agricultural Secretary, Sanjay Aggarwal, by 2020, the government expects to have 80 per cent of farmers data collated. 

The agriculture ministry had also signed a statement of intent in July this year with technology company IBM for a pilot study on using artificial intelligence and weather technology solutions in agriculture. The insights drawn from these pilot projects will tell the farmer when and how much to irrigate a field, crop health, weather predictions, pest infestations and even drought conditions. This is expected to boost agricultural productivity and gradually lessen the need for physical manpower in the sector. The project will introduce and make available climate-aware cognitive farming techniques and identifying systems of crop monitoring, early warning on pest and disease outbreak based on advanced AI innovations.