Prof. Arup Dasgupta
It is a matter of extreme regret and concern that one out of every nine human beings are denied some or all of these essentials due to extreme poverty. Food security is a major issue in a world where land is limited and the population is burgeoning. It is just not about growing more food. The unregulated use of fertiliser and water did result in higher growth but what followed was disaster, unproductive and saline soils. A similar story is with pesticides. The suggested panacea, genetically modified crops have not been as successful as they were made out to be and in some cases carry their own risks, both biological and economical. In this scenario what can geospatial technology do?
In one word, plenty. The use of DGPS and high-resolution satellite imagery can create up to date maps of landholdings at cadastral level. Now these maps can transcend their original use of revenue calculation and add soil management, irrigation management and together with soil analysis can help in selection of crops based on the geomorphology, soil characteristics and predicted weather conditions. Weather prediction itself depends on low resolution meteorological satellite imagery, vertical sounder data and sensor networks of ground based automatic observatories. Medium-resolution remotely sensed imagery is being used for soil mapping as well as monitoring of soil moisture. Such data is also being used to monitor drought as well as events like floods. Crop acreage estimation and production forecasting is being used to plan storage and distribution of essential food grains. Big Data analytics of soil and crop data combined with meteorological information is being used for optimising crop insurance such that the risk to farmers is minimized.
Mechanized farming does use these technologies very effectively in precision farming. However, farmers in developing countries with small holdings are also able to use these inputs provided by agricultural universities and extension services. All this adds up to sustainable management of natural resources through optimal use of fertiliser, water and pesticides and also better management of financial resources by way of loans and insurance.
Geospatial technologies are playing a silent role in the agricultural revolution that is going on in today’s world. Technology can provide information, but the use of the information for better management lies in the hands of administrators and politicians.