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Application of Drones in Agriculture in India

India is an agrarian economy and agricultural sector contributes a major share in the country’s GDP. Apparently the hands on farm ratio to that of the abundant lands in extremely inadequate. This increases the pressure to give optimum results. The increased need of machinery and lack of human power has boosted the drone technology in agriculture. Unlike the other machines drones don’t require continuous human interference. Likewise, machinery used in agriculture is human driven. Drone technology on the contrary doesn’t require continuous human interference. This is where the concept of saving valuable time and making best use of resources comes into concern. 

Drones in the Indian agriculture industry

Drone technology in agriculture has paved its way over the decade. Drones have made the process of harvesting, sowing, and spreading of fertilisers easier. Drones have changed the concept of humans on the farm. One need not need to far fetch things and spend time in frequently monitoring the farm when drones can do the needful.

Drones in agriculture are majorly used for two purposes-

  • Surveying the Agricultural Fields
  • Spraying the fertilisers, planting seeds and many more activities to reduce the efforts of man.

Surveying helps in figuring out precise data about the farms. This produces high resolution images that are suitable for accurate decision making and help make inspections accurate. Determining of crop conditions and their suitable time of growth can be well inspected by drones. Pre-determination of crop failures, livestock management, regular checking of crop health and preparing the crop of weather glitches is the best of the features drones can offer.

Huge hectares of land require huge amounts of people spraying fertilisers and pesticides. This is a time consuming task and can take up ages for completion. Hence, it can be swapped by drones to reduce the efforts and efficient competition of the task. Apart from this planting of seeds, 

  • sorting 
  • And packing are all the different jobs of drones in farming.

The Use of Agri-Drones is rising!

In India Drone technology has upgraded and boomed since the past few years. The interests of people has been more driven towards technology that helps save time and works in larger quantities. The use of drones has been expanding in agriculture ever since government has stepped its foot in it. Since 2020 the Government of India has granted permission to the earth sectors to perform researches on the field. According to 26th January 2022 the government and official bodies also granted the certification scheme for agri drones to fully function in spreading fertilisers and pesticides on large size farms. 

Applications of drone technology in agriculture are also seen in varied fields. These include-

  • Checking the crop health
  • Livestock Management
  • Soil and Depth of the field and its analysis by agri-drones
  • Plantation analysis
  • Monitoring Growth
  • Crop Monitoring
  • Geo-fencing of drones in farming
  • Crop Spraying by specialised agri-drones
  • Avoid Chemical Use and its overuse
  • Preparing  for future weather glitches

All these applications of drones in farming and usage of drones in agriculture have accelerated the processes in the country. About the usage of drones in the agriculture industry, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had really wise words to say. In his speech on ‘Kisan Drones’, (specialized agri-drones) and the growing economy towards the side of the drones, on February 19, 2022. He stated that the confidence that has been instilled by drones in the minds of the farmers expresses the rising capability in the usage of drones in agriculture and provides effective leadership; as he flagged hundred Kisan drones. 

He also stated by describing the entire sector of drones in agriculture is very novel and an exciting initiative. 

This is the start and the entire agriculture industry is eventually taking shape. The upcoming culture of start-up industries has successfully proved a point that drones will be making the other agricultural industry and the farmer’s work easier and more effective as compared to the traditional times. The number is into hundreds, which will rise up to thousands and lakhs and employment opportunities will also rise on a massive scale. 

He stated that there should be no impediment in the sector of drone’s development and drone technology. A country like that of India could really sore up to heights per year with the advent of drones usage in agriculture. The policies were rightly initiated and reformed according to the convenience of the drone pilot as well as in supporting the agricultural industry. Until last few year it was mostly associated with the defence sector back but in recent times, it is seen that the spreading of into construction and mining into agriculture and are providing better results to people as they do not waste time on apprehensions as well as he also talked about the advent of drone industry for the young talent and move forward with a changed the mind-set of the people. On saying this he also ensured that the government will henceforth give priority to technology and innovations in the budget and policy-making where new or ideas can be taken into consideration. Farmers can be taught the use of drones and start using high-capacity drones for transportation of raw materials or produced in finished goods like vegetables, fruits and flowers to markets and least amount of time which can also cut down the transportation, cost and health and boosting their daily wage. 

The initiative of the drone technology in agriculture is nothing but commendable and up to a vibrant Start up that has been looked upon and given importance to.

According to Frost and Sullivan on their article on usage of drones in agriculture they averred drone technology in India and the usage of agri-drones in the market will grow at 38.5% compound annual growth rate and the total amount of income gained through the source would be around one $121.43 million by 2030.

According to the World Bank, India is set to be the largest producer of pulses and spices and around the second largest producer of rice, wheat, cotton sugar cane, tea fruits, barley, vegetables, oilseeds, jute, millets, and coffee. Among all this, it has a round 10,950,000 km² is of land that is used for cultivation and out of which majorly 63% is the region that is completely dependent on rain for their growth while 37% is irrigated land. In such cases, it is heavily needed for an external supervisor or some device that basically tells you 

  • what month is suitable for crop cultivation, 
  • what is the right amount of pesticides and fertilisers that need to be spread 
  • What is the growth rate of the crop as well as checking of regular crop health? 

This is actively participated and taken care by the drones. When scanning of large hectares of land can be done and merely minutes and the data can be also provided in 3D models and accurate estimation of the same in MS Excel.

This entire process basically can be divided into two sections which involves growth drivers and growth restraints. There are various pros and cons of the situation that basically make the entire drone technology pretty much difficult to set its roots in the field of agriculture. One of the major growth drivers are-

  • Good amount of yield rates that have been driven by replacing manual, spraying of pesticides and fertilisers by drones.
  • Employment opportunities in small towns and rural areas where young minds are basically taught how to fly drones.
  • Decrease in price of drone use in agriculture, has slowly and steadily started to increase and this has also reduced the price that it takes to spray and sensing the imagery.

The growth Restraints are-

  • Lack of drone technology and awareness about the same remote regions of the country and regards to the entire concept of drones in agriculture.
  • The major problem here is that majority of farmers in the country work farms that are very small in size. Hence, use size of drones cannot be used for spraying that are generally used in the other regions. Similarly, usage of smaller drones in such areas also proved to be difficult because the cost of drone operation cannot be borne by the farmer. Hence manual operations are preferred more than the drones.

Generally, the major problem that is seen at large and the entire drone technology and agriculture in India is that the rules and regulations or not in favour of people flying drones plus the people due to lack of knowledge tend to stop the drone pilots from flying and conditions where the information needs to be extracted so that it can save the farm. 

The DGCA, directorate general of civil aviation has decided to upgrade and update their rules on drone flying which has also help in the entire spraying operations by a total of 50% of the total market share. The labour that is involved in the agricultural applications in the country is majorly the unskilled labour for the application and flying of the drones. Will take a good quality of time. This is one of the other disadvantages that has majorly been seen in the drone technology. Industry in the country is that sowing operations by drones are lesser as compared to the spring operations. This is because sowing has limited use year and plus it gets difficult in regions where you have multiple crop growth, and in paddy regions.

Looking at the , the pros and cons as well as the drones use in agriculture it can be concluded that since the past few years, the application of drones in the various sectors has started being accepted by the people. Various start-ups have been established the entire country which basically provide a boon to the entire industry by scanning and providing accurate and exact data. In a push from the government agencies and the amount of money that has been invested in the drone technology, especially in the agricultural field can help in providing better results. The upcoming future. The drone technology being an emerging field in all sectors. It is necessary for private individuals as well as venturing capital list to invest in the sector so that it can receive a boom and can also help in contributing better results for the agricultural industry. Because it this is the right time to invest in this emerging technology, which has actually helping agricultural activities perform their work at ease. It is said that the drone industry is currently at the nascent stage. Hence, a continuous as well as consistent push from the government sector is required in terms of permissions and fundraising processes that can help the technology flourish in terms of expansion in different sectors and also in providing favourable environment in creating employment opportunities.

To summarise the earlier we can clearly understand that in a country like India which is majorly focused on agriculture; with the help of drones we can make that sector even stronger and efficient.

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