Organic farming has been a part of Indian agriculture practice for many years. However, the process witnessed disruption with the intervention of chemical fertilisers as a shortcut to maximise yields. The use of chemical fertilisers increased rapidly while the quality of food and soil reduced significantly.
With the world population projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, it is becoming increasingly clear that traditional farming practices are not sustainable in the long term. And this led to the re-evaluation of agriculture practices. The increasing awareness of chemically infused food resulting in toxic health triggered the interest in organic farming with greater reason.
In organic farming, natural inputs are used to yield results as a replacement for synthetic fertilisers. The natural inputs are comprised of compost, manure, and cover crops produced organically. Organic farming offers a more sustainable approach to food production that can help to address some of the environmental and social challenges facing the world today.
But the question that often comes forth is, what is the future of organic farming? How and what trends and innovations are viable to support and promote sustainable agriculture? Let's decode some answers to these questions and understand trends and innovations to boost sustainability in agriculture practices.
Internet of Things (IoT) in Agriculture:
Technological advancements have redefined the way the agriculture sector works. With the arrival of technology like IoT, agriculture is witnessing immense ease while functioning and are transforming the outcomes profitably. While in conventional agriculture, the required rate of intensive labour, time and effort remains very high, the IoT is serving as an alternative to these traditional agricultural practices. It is allowing monitoring of the crops without much hustle and bustle. IoT devices are enabled with sensors to collect data and provide precise information about crops in real time through either mobile applications or any other platform.
While these sensors can perform numerous functions such as temperature monitoring of soil, and tracking of plants and livestock, IoT is also empowering irrigation systems with IoT sensors to ensure automated delivery of water to the crops. It majorly includes evapotranspiration sensors, on-site soil moisture sensors and rain sensors. The inclusion of IoT sensors in agriculture practices is improving the response time for the areas that require instant attention.
Leveraging robotics technology to develop solutions for harvesting and navigation in crop fields, two crucial issues that can be addressed are the crisis of labour shortage and the need to boost organic farming, It can prove useful in assisting farmers in harvesting, planting, seeding, spraying and weeding. To automate the repetitive tasks in agriculture, agricultural robotics are becoming increasingly popular among farmers. The incorporation of robotics in agriculture is promoting sustainable solutions for farmers and letting them invest their time focussing on productivity over menial tasks.
Disease Detection via AI:
Artificial Intelligence is undoubtedly ruling all sectors and agriculture is no exception. AI is playing a pivotal role in enhancing the norms and functioning of agriculture to convert it into sustainable agriculture. With the help of AI, the detection of diseases in crops with the use of the mobile application has become possible. There are multivariate startups that are developing such AI-enabled applications for the farmers which are able to inform and update the farmers about existing diseases and newly occurring pests in the crops. This assists farmers in securing their crops before any grave damage without relying on synthetic pesticides and insecticides.
Precision agriculture is an innovative approach to farming that focuses on optimising crop yield and minimising waste by using technology and data-driven techniques. Organic farming, which prioritises the use of natural methods to grow crops without synthetic inputs, is a growing area of interest for many farmers. Precision agriculture can play a crucial role in organic farming by helping to monitor and manage soil health, detect pests and diseases early on, and tailor nutrient applications to the specific needs of each crop. By combining the principles of precision agriculture with the values of organic farming, farmers can increase their efficiency and sustainability while still maintaining the integrity of their crops.
Regenerative Farming Method:
Regenerative farming method aims to improve soil health and increase biodiversity while also producing high-quality crops. This method is aligned with both organic farming and sustainable agriculture, as it relies on natural processes and emphasises the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Regenerative farming focuses on building soil health through practices such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and reducing tillage. This helps to increase the soil's ability to retain water and nutrients, which in turn leads to more resilient crops. Additionally, regenerative farming encourages the use of natural fertilisers and pest management techniques, which reduce the environmental impact of farming. By adopting regenerative farming practices, farmers can improve their soil health and productivity, while also contributing to a more sustainable and resilient food system.
To conclude, organic farming is poised to play a critical role in the future of sustainable agriculture. With the help of technology and innovative farming practices, organic farming can help to improve soil health, increase biodiversity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide healthy and nutritious food for a growing world population.
(Maninder Singh, the founder, and CEO, of CEF Group)