70 percent of the world’s freshwater withdrawals go towards irrigation uses. Close to 90 percent of freshwater is used for irrigation in India. It is recorded that only 5 percent of water gets used for domestic purpose in India. Despite that, farmers often obtain sub-optimal yields from their crop due to improper irrigation management practices. What if farmers could monitoring soil moisture in their fields? It would help them take has informed decisions on irrigation and be cost-effective too. By monitoring soil moisture, farmers can now optimise their water usage, increase produce yield, produce high quality crops, reduce water resource degradation and save a lot of money.
I can’t take the risk of leaving too much moisture in the pitch. At this time of the year, one does not know how quickly it’s going to dry out.” – Christo Erasmus
In West Bengal, farmers sell potatoes to Pepsico for their potato wafers plant. The quality of the produce is set by the company and farmers key struggle has been to deliver potatoes based on the quality requirement and therefore face a high rejection rate. The issues farmers face in West Bengal are plenty. They hold small farms and hence the quantity of their produce is also small. They lack good machinery for managing cultivation and have poor to no on-farm support as far as crop planning is concerned. No access to right agriculture information leads to heavy losses.
Their potato produce are greenish in color, high in water and sugar content and the reason for poor quality of the produce is because of improper irrigation management that leads to sub-optimal yields. PEPSICO’s high standard of quality expectation leads to direct rejection of the produce.
Monitoring soil moisture will help farmers understand the actual soil water condition and how much their crops need to use. Soil moisture sensors enable in taking informed irrigation decisions on when to irrigate and how much water has to be supplied to avoid low quality production. With the help of soil moisture sensors, some of these questions that are commonly asked by farmers are easily addressed –
- When is the best time for irrigation?
- How do I know if enough water has infiltrated the soil?
- What is the soil depth reached by irrigation water?
- Am I using too little water? Too much or just right?
- How much water loss can i expect due to soil evaporation?
- Has the crop roots absorbed enough water
- During days of no irrigation, how much reserve will be available for my crop?
Let us take the example of the Potato farmer in West Bengal. If the farmers on-farm support in crop planning and irrigation practice,they would have been able to produce better quality yield of potato their produce may not have been rejected by PEPSICO. What if there is a platform is build to support farmers and help them increase their productivity? MyFarmInfo is an agriculture information system and platform to help farmer maximize their income by providing ways to increase yield and help them get the best price for their produce.
In the crop feasibility section, farmers can find the feasibility of growing any crop in their farm. With the help of the feasibility section, farmer can grow those crop that will produce maximum yield. They can decide based on the feasibility which are the crops to avoid based on the soil, weather condition of their area. Another section called farm management, allows farmers to save their farm information in the website. Once that is done My Farm Info will provide farmers with the optimum NPK application, nutrition information and optimal mandi for the crop to take calculated decisions.
Farmers can also use the crop scheduler function to help them keep track of all stages of crop life cycle. Farmers will receive messages according to the schedule regarding upcoming crop stages. Forecast and disease alerts will also be sent through SMS. In addition to this, farmers can use the Flood and wind risk pages to find the impact of flood and wind on their produce.
With the help of My Farm Info, the potato farmer is geo-tagged in all fields. Precise location of the farm, the latest weather data & forecasts for Temperature / Rainfall / Humidity / Wind can be seen on the website. Historical data for all these parameters are also available for farmers to analyze and draw insight. Instant alerts in the form of SMS is sent regarding changing weather conditions. Nutritional advice, soil information, field irrigation planning, optimizing soil choice and checking of plant or crop disease are also available in addition to soil moisture sensors
This is probably the first time in India, whereby farmers will have the ability to stay in control of their produce, take calculated decisions based on statistical data to improve their profitability.
My Farm info worked with potato farmers in West Bengal and the quality of the produce and prices of Potato at nearby Mandis had provided since. Understand your soil moisture using MyFarm Info and improve your revenue.