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DRONES MAY GIVE FARMING A NEW LOOK

Drones may have been used in battlefields, but a study says they can come to the aid of farmers. The use of drones has the potential to revolutionise farming as farmers can monitor crops, improve efficiency, gather high quality data to insulate them from weather calamities and disasters, according to a study. As unfortunate incidents of farmers' suicides have shaken the national conscience, an Assocham-Skymet paper has made out a case for technological leap-frog for solving the problems of small and marginal farmers, with governments providing all-out support by using advanced technologies and means, including drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The paper noted that while at present satellites, manned planes and walking the field are the major ways to monitor crop, these methods often can be incomplete or time consuming. Besides, when data are collected, it can take a long time to process and analyse. As a result, it can be difficult or impossible for the farmers to react to a problem like a disease outbreak before it's too late or the costs to treat it have soared.
With a Drone or UAV, a user can capture highly accurate images of his fields, covering up to hundreds of hectares/acres in a single flight without the cost and hassle of manned services.
It highlights exactly which areas of crop need closer examination -- meaning less time spent scouting, and more time treating the plants that need it. "The advantages of Drones and UAVs are that they are light weight and easy to transport, are low-cost high resolution images, can fly at a variety of altitudes depending on data collection needs, can map areas not accessible by car, boat, etc... They can provide on-demand time schedule video recording capabilities and quick availability of raw data," reveals the study. With improved farm sector data, banks and insurance companies would be able to target credit much more effectively and when the financials have a clear measure of risk, interest rates or premiums could decline. The high quality data would be able to insulate farmers from weather calamities and disasters. "History is witness that a country that loses its food security loses all security. With a growing population, we have to feed ourselves and do that profitably," ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat said.

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