Need for change
Jayant Kumar Singh, Chemical Engineering Department Professor and Head (Bhuparikshak Project), said: “It is a well-documented fact that although India is a larger fertilizer user than China, the country’s yield per hectare is lower. Understanding the accurate soil needs for fertilizers is essential as it will help farmers become decision makers regarding their soil health and vigor.”
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The government initiative is exhaustive, he adds. “Most farmers tend to ignore the waiting time and make decisions according to their ‘intuition’. The process also uses harmful chemicals. When they identified the problem, a team set out to come up with a chemical-free, fast and inexpensive alternative for farmers,” Singh said.
About the initiative
The project started in 2015 and the core is changing. “The team has developed an optical sensor that uses certain wavelengths of sunlight to identify the intensity of specific molecules, such as phosphorus, nitrogen and more, in a soil sample. Once this is detected, the information is mapped through cloud computing software. which will help classify the information by geographic region and be available to all stakeholders for better farming capacity and policy formulation in the future,” said Singh.
The sensor uses a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning skills for the process of cloud computing and spectroscopy to make the process seamless, Singh said.
For the future
Currently, the technology has been tested on soil samples from Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. “As a pilot project, we have introduced the sensor in five villages near Kanpur, where village panchayats will provide the technology to farmers for free. The idea is to familiarize and familiarize the farming community with the new system,” says Singh. In the future, the sensor will also be made available to village chiefs so that farmers have easy access to the technology, he added.
In addition, an experienced agricultural start-up is tasked with the mission of bringing the sensor to market, says Singh. “We expect the technology to be available on the market within a month. One sensor can test about one lakh of soil samples. Although the soil detection process takes about 90 seconds, the costs should also be minimal,” he says.