Revolutionizing Agriculture Through Space Science and Technology Applications
Agriculture is a huge business endeavour. The world is moving from the simplistic methods and practices of doing agriculture. This becomes imperative as countries around the world are struggling with the burden of feeding their population. The concept of food security is common parlance in the discourse both at regional and global fora. To meet the challenge of global food security it is necessary to adopt new ways of doing things in the food sector to eliminate the drudgery that characterizes the Agricultural sector and makes it unattractive to the teeming youth of this generation. Today in Nigeria, Agriculture is key to the plan of diversification from a mono product economy as such optimal and sustainable use of land as a veritable resource is key however this can prove daunting owing to inadequate knowledge regarding soil analysis for growth of crops.
Against the foregoing, a key tool in achieving this objective is the application of Space Science and Technology in revolutionizing methods and practices in Agriculture. Today it is possible to drive the business of Agriculture and the attendant decision making processes using satellite and aerial imageries, automated sensors and machineries, GPS/GNSS equipment. Agricultural drones have become common place to gather crop data in real time, analyse the data and make insightful decisions on a square mater scale as opposed to traditional decision making at field level. These methods help to bring a higher level of accuracy, safety, reliability and optimization thus revolutionizing the Agricultural sector. This emerging trend is referred to as smart Agriculture. It is possible for smart machines to determine on an individual basis the immediate health status of a plant, it’s structure and administer on a need-to-have basis the required care for the plant (such as water, fertilizer, pesticide etc.). This reduces wastage of resources by immense proportions.
The benefits of smart agriculture include but not limited to:
- Optimize plant specific precision farming leading to reduced input of seeds, fertilizer and pesticides and to increased yields.
- Reduce the massive soil compaction as well as energy consumption of heavy machinery.
- Meet the increasing demand for flexible highly automated and simple to operate systems
- Fill gap of shortage of skilled labour.
- Optimizing water resource management
- Optimization of inputs used to facilitate optimal output.
- Saving of valuable resources like water and energy
Possible Areas of Application
- Soil moisture monitoring using satellite
- Soil type analysis for crop type suitability
- Smart animal care
- Smart plant care
- Smart environment control
- Smart irrigation control
- Smart machines
- Smart supervision of food storage
A number of global research efforts making use of space science and technology to enhance agricultural productivity are listed:
- Soil-moisture-mapping-satellite – United States
- Agric-LaserUAV – Precision agricultural crop monitoring using laser scanning and unmanned aerial vehicles – EU Commission
- ECHORD Plus – MARS – Mobile Agricultural Robot Swarms Programme – EU Commission
- TNAU Agritech : Tamil Nadu Precision Farming Project Adopts a location specific, field specific and crop specific approach – India