How Data Analytics is Transforming the Agriculture Industry?

How Data Analytics is Transforming the Agriculture Industry?

Agriculture has come a long way from its traditional roots from the past. As an industry, it has evolved from a stage where it relied solely on recommendations from fellow farmers to a modern, data driven endeavor. Nowadays farmers are able to harness insights backed with loads of historical data to come to a conclusive analysis on the crop to be planted and the cultivation method to be used.

Data Analytics is now penetrating age-old agri-processes to streamline irregularities and increase efficiency in cultivation, irrigation, harvesting, supply chain management, and logistics to ensure that there is little to no risk involved when dealing with perishable goods.

The scope of Big Data Analytics in Agriculture lifecycle

IoT, BigData, and Cloud computing are revolutionizing the way agriculture functions as an Industry in India and around the world. Data Analysis in agriculture globally is valued currently at 565 million USD, and the projected valuation by 2023 is 1256 million USD.

Data Analysis in agriculture is being leveraged to optimize every step in the agriculture lifecycle to be more cost-effective and efficient. From crop selection, cultivation method, harvesting, and supply chain management, the impact is being felt at every stage of the value chain.

With sensors and connected devices interacting with each other on the farm, farm owners and managers are now equipped with volumes of crop data in real time to guide farmer’s actions. Big data in agriculture is transforming livestock care, developing efficient risk assessment modules, democratizing the potential of urban farming, and catalyzing efficient use of resources (land and labor).

Here are some of the major benefits of applying data mining and machine learning techniques in agriculture.

Improved crop management:

With insightful crop data, farmers can make informed decisions on the type of crop to grow, choose a strain that is best suited for the atmospheric conditions, rain seasons, and type of soil to make a profitable harvest. Hybrid varieties or breeds that are most suited to the soil and climatic conditions can be recommended based on data analysis that are most resistant to disease and spoilage.

Better risk assessment:

Risk in the agriculture sector is inevitable, but the ability to predict and manage the risk at every stage of the lifecycle makes the farmer better equipped to take tactical decisions. Big Data and Cloud computing utilizes data from Google Earth, global weather conditions, and data fed in by the farmer to project a roadmap that helps farmers plan the journey right from crop selection to distribution. It also factors in the local market prices, natural calamities, pest infestation etc. that might increase or decrease the value of commodity and hardships that a farmer could face with respect to supply chain management. Data aids farmers in making decisions that could help them sway away from potential high-risk scenarios in the lifecycle of the crop.

Efficiencies in supply chain

Supply chain management is not just about distributing the finished goods to the desired market anymore. With data analytics, farmers are now empowered with insights that can help them predict the market conditions, consumer behavior towards the finished goods, factor-in inflation, and other variables that will help them plan the entire process even before sowing the seeds. This becomes a salient insight as it allows farmers to manage the conditions that enable them to maximize return on investment and mitigate any unnecessary loss.

The Bottom line

Big data is giving more power and control to farmers and greater visibility on their finances. It helps streamlining and saving time in the process from farm to table especially for perishable produce with a small shelf life. This means better tasting and fresher produce for customers and better profits for the farmers themselves.

With agricultural management software, farmers can now innovate and venture into more efficient farming models, diversify their resources by exploring Aquaponics, greenhouse farming, and urban farming, among others. Such data led farming innovations are leading to farming habits that are sustainable and beneficial to local ecosystems.

Leveraging AgTech in Contract Farming in India

Leveraging AgTech in Contract Farming in India

What is contract farming? How is it practiced in India?

Contract farming is an agreement made between the farmer and the supplier (agro-processing firms) on the finished goods. There are many contract farming models in India; the most prominent ones have preset buying and selling conditions even before the farmer begins the seeding process. In contract farming, the supplier agrees to pay the farmer a price for a lot of finished goods at the end of the season, regardless of the market condition, inflation, and other factors that could inflate or deflate the value of the finished goods.

In some cases, they also agree to supply the farmer with the raw materials required. This includes farming gear, seeds, pesticides (if needed) and more.

However, for the deal (contract farming agreement) to complete in fruition, the farmer will have to deliver in quantity and quality in the finished goods as agreed.

Importance of Contract farming in India:

The benefits of contract farming are many. Contract farming opens avenues for small and medium-scale farmers to technology that is otherwise only accessible to farmers with large capital.

It reduces the risk for the farmer on cultivation, marketing, and logistics. The fixed income module that contract farming runs on ensures that the farmers receive a steady pay-check even in dire conditions. The farmer and supplier connection open them to newer markets with a steady supply & Demand ratio. With quality as a parameter, the suppliers and the end-users are assured that they would consistently receive high-quality goods at competitive prices.

Challenges in contract farming:

Studies by the UN came up with predictive models which showed radical improvement in the farmers below the poverty line using the contract farming approach. Most farmers are not equipped with investment capital, resources, technology, or large landholdings to make sizable investments. This puts them in a vicious cycle of loans, poverty, and low yields.

With contract farming, farmers are able to mitigate risks in production, marketing, and distribution. The pre-set agreement in place ensures that the steady paycheck comes in to bridge the gap between one crop to another.

Farmers with small holdings can leverage the advantages the contract has to offer to access better markets, imbibe newer processes in agri-tech, and expand their market potential.

How can Agtech help in Contract Farming?

Agriculture technology in India has taken enormous strides towards enforcing sustainable methods of cultivation, P&L management, and risk management. With Agtech farmers are now able to leverage technology to make informed decisions on the type of crop they wish to cultivate, the newer and improvised methods in pest management, and now have access to newer markets to get the maximum return on Investment.

Agribusinesses can deploy Agtech platforms such as Farm Management ERPs to have an eagle eye view of all the small landholding farmers and large farmers involved in contract farming at different stages of their supply chain. The contracts that dictate the terms and conditions and the crop schedules to be maintained can be done on one unified farm management platform instead of maintaining separate records for separate farmers.

Farm managers can flag off risks that they foresee in crop schedule, possible disease, climatic conditions and alert their pods of farmers to these risks. This ensures that individual farmers benefit from the oversight they get from the companies and they do not fail to meet the quality and yield standards outlined in the contracts.

In the long term, once contract farmers are familiarized with the Agtech platform, they can make their farming decisions based on crop data and market rates. This ensures that there are no middle men or lack of transparency in the process of wholesale buying or selling of the crops. Although hand holding will be required in the initial stages, the farmers can eventually start leveraging these platforms themselves even without the intervention of savvier farm managers.

Is Patience the Fertilizer Your Home Garden Is Lacking?

Is Patience the Fertilizer Your Home Garden Is Lacking?

Have you ever stood in front of a mirror and checked yourself out just after a gym session? While on some days you may feel that your tummy has gone in by a centimeter and your waistline has reduced by an inch, most days you feel like you are just where you started. That’s so similar to how you feel when you find that your seed has germinated, but it simply refuses to bloom after that. The euphoria of seeing the seed germinate fades and you feel like you are practically back to square one!  What seemed like months and months of arduous effort, was in reality only a few weeks! In this world of super-fast everything, we are forgetting the importance of patience. We cannot control the pace of muscle growth or body metabolism and the same goes for plant growth. You’ve got to be patient! 

Patience – A Virtue

Patience is truly a virtue. Be it gym-goers or home-growers

Are you someone who has tried sowing some seeds or brought home a plant but have experienced that “It just never grows!”? 

New home-growers make this mistake of being impatient and setting a time limit to their efforts. When there are no results within the decided time-frame, they tell themselves that gardening is not their cup of tea or it is too hard. Can an entrepreneur ever guarantee when his/her business will take off? Can a sportsperson ever guarantee when he will get selected for the national team? If these people gave up every time it took longer than they expected to reach their desired goals, we would have lost so many successful businesses and talented sportspersons. 

This holds true for everything new we begin in life, including gardening. While it is frustrating to see your efforts yield no results, it is not prudent to be impatient while growing a garden. Instead, focus on what you can do– water your plants once daily, and tend to them for 15 mins regularly.  

But Why Aren’t My Plants Growing? What Am I Doing Wrong?

Well, sometimes things have to go wrong for them to go right! And even if they do go wrong, you don’t need to get disappointed. Your unsuccessful attempts in the garden may be because you’re yet to understand your plant needs fully. Maybe you are watering the plant excessively when it actually is hydrated enough. Or maybe the sun is not shining in that corner of the house, and the plant needs some change of place. Or your seeds may just have traveled too deep to find their way up or you were not able to lay your hands on the good ones. Sometimes, the plant not growing may not have anything to do with you at all. For instance, the seeds you used may be non-regenerative and you need to purchase new ones. Or it just needs some more time to grow. 

Umpteen reasons but the outcome may be just one – your plant decides to not grow!

It’s important to remind oneself that gardening is a labor of love and patience. In the beginning, it can feel a bit unrewarding. However, the first time you see a dainty green stem pop out from the soil into the free air, you’ll be elated. The first time you pluck off fresh veggies from your terrace garden and use them to cook a meal, you’ll see that it was all worth the wait. You’ll take pride in your gardening efforts. 

That being said, first-time growers need not even put in a lot of work or invest much time in gardening. We recommend starting small with a few vegetables that are easy to grow, don’t need any special care, and can be grown in a small space. For example, leafy greens like palak, dhania, methi (and the list goes on..) are just perfect for beginners. Also, you can use our triple F formula for kitchen gardening and minimize your gardening investments. You can begin with a single pot on your terrace, in the balcony, or the backyard. With time, you can experiment and make additions to your home garden. 

A Garden Is More than Just Fruits & Veggies

The fresh veggies and fruits you produce are not the only benefits of cultivating a home garden. For many people, kitchen gardening turns into a relaxing hobby. It gives one time, to think clearly, gain perspective, and resolve one’s internal conflicts. Over the years, it can become an inseparable part of one’s life. Jenny Uglow rightly says, “We might think we are nurturing our garden, but it is our garden that is nurturing us.

Moreover, did we tell you, gardening is an excellent activity to involve your little ones? Your garden is the best place for them to learn lessons of patience, responsibility, the compounded effect of daily efforts, and experience a sense of joy and belonging. Your home garden can start with just a single plant. But you can grow it into a place where a hundred memories reside. Simple moments spent with your loved ones, filled with the joy of doing something together can light up your gardening space for years together! 

While we wish your gardening journey takes a wonderful trajectory hereafter, we’d love to help you check off gardening from your daily to-do list with our garden planner app. Check out Kheti Buddy Home today if you’re planning to start a compact balcony garden or a self-sufficient terrace garden. Our garden planner app is a go-to guide for all gardening tips– right from selecting which plants to grow, how many seeds you will require, and what care you need to take to grow a lush green garden at home. Keep sowing, keep growing! 

Get access to amazing gardening tips with Kheti Buddy Home app!

Technology trends in agriculture 2020: What does the future hold?

Technology trends in agriculture 2020: What does the future hold?

In the past decade, global agriculture has witnessed great innovation and modern technology trends leading to the digitization of the oldest industry known to man. Factors such as changing consumer behavior, scarcity of labor, growing overhead costs, reduced land availability has led to a spurt in the use of agriculture technology to catalyze efficiency.

The changes that we are witnessing due to COVID-19 seem to have a significant permanent impact on expediting these AgTech advancements. The radical transformations that the current pandemic is driving in AgTech are out of necessity. Farmers are having to opt for online or AI-based solutions to drive efficiencies due to a lack of available labor and resources.

In the past 12 months alone, the amount invested in agriculture technology or Agritech was 1.9 billion dollars. These capital infusions have been focused mainly on artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT), indoor vertical farming, blockchain technology, farm automation and robotics, modern greenhouse technologies to mention a few. However, in a post COVID era, these investments have to be bolstered even further.

Here are the major changes that we’ve witnessed in the agriculture sector as a result of the pandemic.

What does this mean for the future of farming and Agtech?

Informed decisions through Farm Management ERPs

Future trends in agriculture will not be based on the application of fertilizers, plant protection chemicals, and water through the entire stretch of the farm. Instead, it will be a target-specific and need-based application of the required products through real-time data analysis. Farm operations will be streamlined based on remote sensors, GPS and Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

Khetibuddy is one such Farm Management Software that helps farmers improve their yields by harnessing data on every step of the farm management lifecycle. Farm management systems could be efficiently deployed in small-scale as well as large scale farms to manage farm operations and daily farm activities. In the near future sensor data can be used to drive robotics and AI-based supervision of farms leading to more profitable and eco-friendly production systems with minimal human labor.

Artificial intelligence-based farming to minimize overheads

Farms equipped with automation based tools such as driverless or self-driven tractors are helping to decrease the labour requirement and saving time and overheads for farm owners. Driverless tractors in the US which are already in the market are already being used to completely automate harvesting and minimize human intervention. By helping automate the farmer’s current farm equipment, agriculture technology helps in increasing the efficiency and capabilities of available resources. Another AI-based tech to look out for includes systems such as voice recognition activated sprinklers, temperature sensing detectors, machine vision for animal husbandry and many more.

Internet of things (IoT) and Agri-tech sensors in the field.

The Internet of Things can help develop Agtech solutions for the betterment of crop yield. Here are some of the innovations in the space that are quite promising.

Precision farming with remote sensors

In small scale farms, it could be possible to observe disease outbreak by keen observation and a constant scanning of their crops for contamination. But on a large scale, it is unlikely for the farmer’s eyes to reach every corner of the field and may lead to heavy losses. With the help of IoT and remote sensing agriculture technology, the farmer can access each and every region of the farm and find out potential disease or pest probability with microsensors. The entire process is made farmer-friendly by producing output on tablets or smartphones with swift alerts. There are even sensors in the market already that help measure variables such as the compaction of soil and erosion and detect pest population density in the field.

Crop monitoring using drones

Using cameras and microsensors within the drones, monitoring, and analysis of plants down to a single leaf is made possible. The collected data, when combined with a machine learning solution, gives clear information about the farmer’s stock and yield.

Smart collars for animals

IoT wearable devices are being developed for use in the animal husbandry industry. Farmers can now take accurate information about livestock such as animal heat status, its wellbeing, disease prediction in real-time without physically inspecting them.

Plant protection chemical application

With the combination of AI and IoT sensors, site-specific treatment of individual plants is made possible. Potential pests on a particular plant can be easily detected and treated. This enables minimal usage of chemicals treating the affected plants, thereby minimizing the impact on surrounding soil and environment.

High-tech vertical farming

One of the most promising technology trends in agriculture when it comes to optimizing land availability is vertical farming. Basically, it is the method of growing crops in vertical trays or surfaces which may be integrated onto buildings and living spaces making them self sustainable. Vertical farming could be the solution to the food demands of the growing population, in urban areas. Vertical farming yield can be maximized if integrated into a greenhouse setting, making it resistant to climate changes and making the year-round supply.

Underground farming

Underground farming uses hydroponics grow trays to grow vegetables and an automated monitoring system to aid the management of the underground ecosystem’s CO2 concentration, temperature, and humidity, making it appropriate for plant growth. This high tech venture is fairly new agricultural technology and is mainly adopted in densely populated urban cities.

Barriers to adoption: Why some Agtech innovations fail the field test in India

Lack of sensitization

Innovations are essential but executing them well at different levels that consider the best interests of farmers as well as everyone involved in the agribusiness is challenging. Without proper management, it could lead to resistance and delays in execution as some farmers will be scared of adopting into new systems due to lack of sensitization. There may also be lobbying against certain tech innovations if they are rushed through such as the resistance observed to GM crops due to lack of knowledge about them.

Unaffordable for small scale farmers

As most of the farmers in India don’t have much capital to invest in farm machinery, AgTech tools and innovations seem like a long mile to go for them. The digitization of field-level data must be made affordable using cheaper ‘Made in India’ sensor tech, that makes it accessible even to small scale farmers. The government must also provide adequate subsidies and loans to farmers to make it more affordable for them to adopt such tech and contribute to the food security of our nation.

Language barriers

One of the biggest challenges that keep farmers from adopting the AgTech innovations is the language barrier. As most of the products and tools are geared at the west, they fail to consider the needs and of the farmers in India. India needs to develop its own platforms or localize the content to Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and other regional languages so that farmers and stakeholders can understand the data in a language that they are comfortable with.

The way forward

The technology trends in agriculture sound thrilling and promising, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Agtech is still quite nascent in India and the potential that it holds for the country is enormous. With close to 70 per cent of rural households engaged in agriculture for livelihood, a tech revolution in farming will help enormously improve the GDP and economic indices of our country.

The need of the hour is for scientists and innovators to come up with accessible innovations with a focus on user experience and accessibility. Creating Agri-technology is only half the battle, ensuring adoption through public-private partnership and policymaking is the milestone we should aim for in a country that’s largely still unsavvy when it comes to tech.

 

Growing Internet Infrastructure – Impact on Farming

Growing Internet Infrastructure – Impact on Farming

India is home to 17.7% of the world’s population and this share is constantly growing. Fulfilling the hunger burden of this burgeoning populace is becoming a challenge. Technology innovation is the only way to meet these challenges in the face of limited land and labor availability.

The only means to tackle this issue is by increasing crop productivity, by the gradual shift from traditional farming to automated and sustainable systems. Agricultural technology, or say AgriTech, offers great potential to increase efficiencies in farming.  In fact, agtech is not merely a technical means, but it is a necessity if we are to meet the food security challenges of the future.

However, contrasting state of Indian agriculture presents a number of challenges in agtech adoption in rural spaces. The most taunting question on the agtech furtherance in the world is whether their growth will be limited due to lack of growth in internet accessibility. These are times when telecom companies are boasting about ‘faster’ internet speed and larger consumer base, yet the lack of penetration of broadband connectivity even in 2020 is a cause of concern.

Only 16% of rural users access the Internet for financial transactions, according to the report. The connectivity between the rural India and the rest of the world over broadband is a bigger infrastructural gap to focus on.

“Infrastructure needs to be made a lot better and services need to be more affordable to achieve the desired growth in Internet usage in rural areas,” said Biswapriya Bhattacharjee, executive vice-president of Kantar IMRB. To increase the data consumption, however, the next generation of products such as healthtech, fintech and agritech will act as the driving force to change the pattern of lower data consumption where the accessibility is not an issue.

Leaping the gap of connectivity in Agriculture Industry

The next frontier of smart farming

The better mobile internet networking and upgraded broadband strength enables much faster data transmission between smartphones and other connected devices or farm equipment. Better connectivity means that data integration can be seamless.

Internet when aided with smart agricultural tools and practices such as Farm Management ERPs, data collection sensors, and automation can compound the benefits of technology for farming. By enabling machines to communicate with each other faster, farming will prove to be the most dynamic advancement in farming since the green revolution.

Access to greater connectivity and more possibilities

Countries with better internet connectivity and network penetration such as the Netherlands, have leveraged it to maximize their farming efficiency. The Netherlands is currently experimenting with fully automated farms where self-driven tractors sow seeds, sensor drones monitor crops and smaller machines take samples to identify which and where the fertilizer and pesticides need to be applied. Using tech, the labor required to farm even huge tracts of land is quite minimal.

How better internet connectivity can aid in managing farm field operations

Better broadband means better connectivity which could be used in Remote Sensing technologies, Geographical Information Systems, and GPS. Farmers can use a combination of these tools to observe crops at the field level. Discrepancies of soil or crop characteristics, air, soil, weather parameters, and crop status can all be recorded and assessed in real-time, enabling smarter decisions on the fly.

Here are a few ways to leverage broadband infrastructure for smart farming in the farm management lifecycle.

Forewarning of disease outbreaks

Global agriculture has been facing challenging situations due to changing climatic factors. The temperature rise has also manifested its detrimental effects on the yield of crops and surge in new pathogenic disease and pests.

Smart farming has proven to be a boon to the farming community by dealing with the effects of climate change. By aiding in the collection of data from remote sensors, tools also use artificial intelligence to forecast pest outbreaks.

Smart farmers in Punjab are already tackling crop disease issues by monitoring parameters such as rainfall, temperature, humidity, etc., and collecting data through remote sensors. By this, they can access the crop’s proneness to a certain disease and act on time to prevent an outbreak. Smart farming in India has given immense possibilities for food security and higher yields for its largely agrarian economy.

Efficient weeding

Smart farming enabled tools to help in weeding crops as well. Hoes fitted with weed detection cameras can help identify the definite crop rows and navigate implements to remove weeds carefully without affecting the standing crop. Site-specific treatment of weeds and pests in a large farm using drones can help reduce the manual labor involved in the farming process and reduce the chance of compromised yield.

Water management

The automation of irrigation is yet another great application of smart farming. The available water in an area can be detected by soil sensors and using a dendrometer, the water stress of plants is measured when connected to smartphones or any other devices. Internet infrastructure provides faster real-time connectivity and data transfer from the field to the server helping improve efficiencies in irrigation.

Fertigation

With the traditional farming method, farmers apply fertilizers through drip or fertigation units based on soil test analysis. This is not very accurate. With fertigation devices enabled with the internet of things (IoT), farmers can assess their farms from a distance, and apply fertilizers in appropriate volumes through machines. It can also enable them to see the current pH value of the soil and make amendments with the help of remote sensors.

Above ground crop monitoring

The hassle involved in monitoring the field activities, soil differences, water availability, pest, or disease outburst at very large scale farms is a huge headache. But thanks to cheap drone tech and remote sensors that enable timely monitoring, farmers are able to closely monitor their crops without employing huge manpower.

Freeing up farmhands in animal husbandry

Smart farming technology also has great potential in maintaining the health and productivity of large animal farms. Smart farms make it possible to connect various machines and instruments in the farm such as milking robots, feeding instruments, health status, and Wi-Fi collars to help in easy farm management. With the data sources saved in the cloud, it helps ranchers or cattle farmers to access animal health in real-time. This has helped maximize resource utilization, minimal pollution, reduced overhead charges, and has led to better animal wellbeing.

The way forward

As beneficial smart farming sounds, it is still in its budding stages in India. Large companies like Tata Kisan Kendra, an initiative by Tata Chemical Limited have started off the smart farming revolution in India by providing services to the farming community with the help of remote sensing to examine soil parameters, pest attack, crop health status, crop yield analysis.

Since India is a largely agrarian economy with many small farmers, there is a need for such public-private partnerships and government impetus to help farmers adopt such tech and increase productivity. Smart farming will take the agro-industry by storm, however, extensive research into making the user experience friendlier and accessible to the last mile is the major challenge that has to be solved.

A Self-Sufficient Home Garden That Boosts Immunity Too!

A Self-Sufficient Home Garden That Boosts Immunity Too!

When the 21-day lockdown was announced in the country, were you worried if there would be sufficient supplies to feed the whole family? Did you have concerns about running out of fresh food?

Well, you weren’t alone. This was a collective fear rampant across the country.

Most of us have sailed through this lockdown for now, but what if such a lockdown was announced again in the future? What if you could not step out of your home at all? How would you provide three healthy meals a day to your family in this situation? Moreover, how would you strengthen the immunity of your loved ones in case of an impending pandemic?

Too many questions, but surely worth a thought. After all, the pandemic has proved to us that anything can happen.

The one way you could manage to ensure enough food without having access to groceries or markets is to be self-sufficient. That is, by growing one’s own food and using existing produce to do so. But is this really possible?

Yes, it sure is. 

We cleared your misconceptions about home gardening and shared the benefits of growing a vegetable garden at home. Now, let’s walk through how your home garden can lead your way to be self-sufficient. 

The triple F formula – Food From Food

Did you know that 80% of the food you consume can be grown at home itself? Also, most vegetables can be grown from existing produce, without having to outsource seeds or fertilizers separately. 

For example, you can grow a potato plant from a potato. If you simply keep a potato aside for a few days, you will observe buds growing out from it. If this budded or sprouted potato is sown in soil and given sufficient sunlight and water, you will soon see that tiny plantlets begin to pop out. 

In the same way, you can grow a plant out of an existing onion, by sowing its chopped bottom. Garlic too can be grown easily at home, from its cloves. You can replant lemongrass stalks to see a fresh sapling stem out of it. 

If you find yourself thinking, “I have sown seeds from my veggies, taken requisite care, waited for a sufficiently long time, and it still hasn’t resulted in the growth of the plant! What am I doing wrong?” We have a solution to offer. The seeds you sowed may actually be non-regenerative. In this case, try sowing fresh seeds of that plant, sourced from a market or nursery. (Still have questions? Let us help you.

Self-sufficiency does not stop here; in addition to utilizing available veggies for seeds, you can even use your kitchen waste to enhance the soil for these plants. 

That’s right- Composting. 

Leftovers of fruits, vegetables, tea and coffee, which would otherwise be dumped in the garbage, can be used to make compost at home. This compost is an excellent fertilizer for your budding plants. 

Eating the produce you grow, utilizing food waste as fertilizer to nurture those plants, and using existing produce to re-grow the plants – this completes the entire cycle of self-sufficiency. 

Now, you have applied the triple F formula and are no longer concerned about running out of fresh food for your family. Bravo! But along with this, is there a way you can make the most out of your home garden and improve the immunity of your loved ones? 

Immunity booster food – grown right at home

A popular, age-old proverb says – 

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

Fruits, vegetables, spices have healing properties and are key to good health. Most of us can give our body all the nutrition it needs from natural food. When it comes to food that boosts immunity, those with vitamin C top the list. Veggies and fruits like tomato, bitter gourd, and papaya are rich in vitamin C, and can be easily grown at home. 

Turmeric and ginger tea is a very promising immunity booster. Turmeric is an effective anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing agent. Ginger, on the other hand, helps in soothing your stomach and cleansing your lymphatic system – aka your body’s natural drainage system that removes toxins from your body tissues. You can grow ginger and turmeric by planting a whole piece of the rhizome in the soil. 

Leafy greens like palak (spinach) and methi (fenugreek) are loaded with nutrients and can be easily grown in your terrace or balcony garden.  

You can cook healthy soups with your own produce. Spring onions, carrots are tasty contenders and can be accompanied by herbs like dhaniya (coriander), all of which can be grown at home. Won’t it be amazing if you can top your healthy salads with home grown lettuce that has been freshly plucked from your own garden? You can know for sure how clean, nutritious and safe the food on your plate is.  

And as great for your health these immunity-boosting fresh veggies are, they are also equally easy on your pocket. Your home vegetable garden can surely reduce your expenses by shrinking your grocery list. 

Say hello to savings!

Can everyone grow a self-sufficient garden?

Many people have considered taking up gardening in their homes, at least once in their lifetime. But most of them simply overestimate the effort gardening takes, and give up the very thought of it. 

We truly believe that growing a self-sufficient home vegetable garden is everybody’s game. However, the process can be simplified if you have someone to guide you. That’s who we are – your companion, your guide, in your journey to growing your own healthy food.  

As much as we hope that we never face another lockdown, we think it’s wise to be prepared for it. A small balcony garden or terrace garden, with minimal investments, can reap a surplus of food and good health. With our home garden app – Kheti Buddy Home, the journey is half the effort and double the joy. 

Grow your way to self-sufficiency with a home vegetable garden! Learn more.

Managing farm operations in the Covid19 situation

Managing farm operations in the Covid19 situation

If you don’t adapt, you don’t endure.

We all are struck with the sudden change in the business environment. Like always, there are going to be winners and losers of this new opportunity which is disguised as a challenge. Those with the digital artillery already in place look favorable champions to adapt the new way to running your business. But, there’s more that can still be done.

Not going digital was not an option and in agriculture for farmers, managing farm without going digital wasn’t an option as the delay in adapting would mean,  wait another season/year. Most of the farming community have now slowly woken up to the challenge and understand the importance of this shift.  Use of farm applications surged and the e-commerce sales of agri-inputs which until a few months ago seemed years away took rampant pace.

So far farmers seem to have taken up digitalization of farms quicker than expected. Especially, with a plethora of options available at farmers’ hand via the internet it is no surprise. However, it is the agribusiness who’ve relatively struggled more to keep with the new mode of business.

How agribusinesses changed their approach to manage farmers remotely

Many of the agribusinesses have picked up on the trends of other businesses for managing their farm operations remotely through virtual platforms.

Group Messaging platforms such as Whatsapp and Telegram for making farmer-groups can set-up a two-way communication but can also be time consuming. 

Voice Calls could possibly be one of the most annoying measures to reach farmers. Given the number of companies in the industry, could you imagine the number of calls a farmer would have to receive?

Webinars and Virtual Events are seemingly appropriate measures to reach the masses but given the lack of one-to-one interaction capability and internet connectivity hampering streaming quality are big stumbling blocks.

Social Media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have always been a way to promote the products and services but the traffic doesn’t always match with the intent and action.

Change the Game – Manage your farmers better

I’m sure you’re familiar with movie scenes from the hacker genre where numerous monitor screens are displayed for the character to grasp information as it flies. 

What agribusinesses today are doing to farmers is essentially the same.

Except, of course, most of which is being registered in farmers’ minds for sure.

Receiving hundreds of messages, calls and invites for conferences every day the farmers are bombarded with people trying to connect with them. Even with all measures applied there is no guarantee that farmers will fall through. 

Besides, it is difficult in most cases to measure which of these actually resulted in the sale or business growth or even creating awareness for that matter.

So how can agribusinesses do better? What does going digital truly mean? Well, agribusinesses should take a holistic perspective in it’s farmer management techniques.

The most prominent element in taking a holistic approach is to adopt a suitable farm management software. Depending upon the business objectives what should a farm management software do for them will vary. But on a broad-level, it should contribute to below business objectives.

1. Real-time farm data for decision making:

Farmers’ data which was gathered from field staff previously now must go digital. With software farmers could now participate in the farm digitization process with a farm app. With the help of this data agricultural businesses can make decisions on numerous aspects for the rest of the season. This is a strong capability that businesses took a long lead time on before the advent of farm management software.

2. Better two-way communication:

The current communication channels are cluttered with competition. Chances of your message being lost in tons of notifications are higher than ever. Farm management software helps you streamline your communication by creating a one-to-one interaction channel. Be it a chat-bot, a farmer app or even digital dedicated resource; ensure that each farmer is being catered by a point of contact employed for many.

3. Efficient operations management:

Order management, supply chain management and inventory management are the three major areas where profitability is driven by efficient cash-flow management. Ability to take data-driven decisions can help you do more with less making your business highly efficient on all fronts.

Conclusion

Having a farm app along with a web interface goes a long way in managing the operations even better. The efficiency of a farm management software is realized when each user, say farm manager or farmer, is actively engaging with the software.

For those agribusinesses who take up this opportunity and initiate implementing steps towards complete digitalization could achieve a lot more comparatively in the years to come. 

When the dust settles and a new consumer pattern in agriculture has emerged, it will be interesting to see who comes out victorious.

Gardening Basics: How to grow vegetables at home?

Gardening Basics: How to grow vegetables at home?

Wish to have home grown vegetables but don’t know where to start? Growing your own vegetables can be fun, stress-relieving and rewarding. If you’ve ever wondered what if you’re ‘Brown Thumb’ then don’t worry, you’re not alone.

The good part is we’ve simplified it into baby steps for you to get started with home gardening.

  • How to pick the right location

When you’re growing vegetables at home, just like picking real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. When choosing the spot for your home vegetable garden ensure that it is well lit and has access to sunlight. Your veggies need at least six hours of sunlight to ensure a healthy yield. Also make sure to use moist and healthy soil, if you’re potting your veggies ensure that the rocks in the area are removed as well. Another factor to keep in mind is whether your veggies are too exposed to the elements. If there are heavy gusts of wind or extreme rainfall, make sure the plant is protected from it at the location of your choice. 

  • Choosing the right vegetables to grow

When you’re picking vegetables for your home garden, what’s important is to consider what veggies do your family most love and what grows best in the conditions. Herbs such as Coriander, Mint, Curry leaves are a great bet as they are a staple and taste great while grown fresh. Also, ensure that you plant vegetables that don’t require too much maintenance especially when starting off so that you can move on to more exotic vegetables in due time once you become a gardening veteran. A few staples that taste best and can survive most conditions are Tomatoes, Brinjal, Cauliflower, Chilli, Capsicum and Carrots.

  • Making efficient use of space

In urban settings where space is scarce, it’s essential to plan out your kitchen garden so that no square footage is wasted. When setting up your plant beds, ensure that you create the arrangements in the form of triangles to maximize the efficiency and number of vegetables you can grow in each row. However, ensure that you don’t pack them in too tightly or crowded such that they compete for nutrients. With adequate spacing in place, you’ll be able to maximize the yield per plant as well as the number of plants. Vertical farming is also something you can consider if space is extremely scarce.

  • Deciding when to plant

While growing vegetables at home, the vegetables you choose and the timing dictate how many harvests you can collect in one growing season. If you grow a plant such as lettuce which grows and yields quickly in the first season of the year, then you can collect the yield and grow another crop of your choice in the same soil bed. Also using a transplant (Plants which are already halfway matured) can help you expedite the process. However, ensure that you adequately fertilize the soil bed with compost to ensure that your plants are not starved for nutrients.

  • Getting your soil ready

Healthy soil is the foundation of healthy veggies, ensure that you use organically rich top-soil while making your soil beds to grow vegetables at home. Having raised soil beds can help you get a layer of healthy soil for planting. You can also add to the nutrient-rich nature of the soil by adding homegrown compost made of organic waste, adding in earthworms to the soil can also do wonders as they work the soil and keep it rich with their excretions.

  • Care and maintenance for your garden

Ensure that you regularly weed and clean up your garden of debris to avoid pest or insect infestation. Setting up physical barriers to prevent pests and insect infestation as well as using natural pesticides such as neem can help you avoid a ruined yield. Rotating your crops every season is also a good way of getting rid of pests. Plant different vegetables in the spot rather than replanting the same ones. This is especially necessary in the case of vulnerable plants like Potatoes, Tomatoes and Onions. Also, spread out your plants between each other rather than concentrating the same kind of plants in one spot. Having plants such as Marigolds and Chrysanthemums can help repel insects naturally, ensure a diversity of such flowers and plants in your garden to develop a healthier ecosystem.

  • Document your Journey

While starting off growing vegetables at home, the journey can be a bit tough without the right guidance and the right tools. The Kheti Buddy Home Gardening app is the perfect companion on your home gardening adventures. The Kheti Buddy Home (KBH) reminds you exactly what to do and how to do it, like a calendar for your gardening activities. You can also use the app to document the entire plant life cycle and keep track of your yield and experiments. This means each time you finish a growing cycle you have enough and more data to look back at what worked and what didn’t. Apply the learning to your home gardening process and you’ll be a certified pro in no time.

Key attributes of an efficient farm management system

Key attributes of an efficient farm management system

As they say “Data is the new Oil!”, although priceless for its value, crude oil indeed requires refining to unleash its actual worth. Similarly, unstructured data has to be compiled and made actionable before it helps optimize processes. This is true for agriculture as much as any other industrial sector. 

Over the years, mankind has witnessed several reforms, out of which the digital agricultural revolution has been considered a landmark one from the point of view of sustainability. Agricultural data has played an important role in increasing the agricultural output of farms and farming efficiency. 

From decreasing extensive manual toil in farms, crop planning, estimation of profits and loss, to eliminating the middleman and ensuring fair prices, using agri-data is the key to automating every aspect from farmer to distributor. Traditional agricultural practices have given way to increased adoption of technology in agriculture to facilitate increased productivity, sustainability, and profitability. 

Role of ERP in agriculture

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for agriculture helps unify the multiple business functions of a farm into one integrated system. It enables the farm to accumulate data from different points such as rainfall data, crop data, price data all on one eagle eye view to help farmers manage their entire farm in one dashboard.

Agribusiness owners and farmers use Farm management systems/ ERP to decrease data management hassles. Farm management software can be used in small as well as large farms to efficiently manage farm operations and daily farm activities. One of the major objectives of farm management software is to streamline the process of recording, storing, and analyzing agricultural data by simplifying production schedules. 

Similar to how CXOs make decisions on company operations based on data, a farmer can also make decisions on how to optimize their cropping schedule and strategy based on the agricultural data collected and structured by a Farm Management system. From coordinating labour and land resources to reacting to weather updates and more, the Farm ERP is the single source of truth for the tech-savvy agriculturist.  

Why is a Farm Management ERP needed?

Farm management could be compared to managing a business, on a day to day level.  Some operations must be carried out efficiently to certain standards for the business to thrive. From seeding to fertilizing and irrigation, if even one of these processes is mistimed, it affects the total yield of the farm. This is where the importance of Farm management software is deeply felt. 

Boosts efficiency:

Farm management ERP can boost the operational efficiency of large and small scale farms alike. These programs can help in recording the produced product, unsold stocks, outstanding overhead costs make it possible to streamline a large number of farm responsibilities.  

Helps drive decision making:

Farm management software can also make recommendations, run forecasts, consider the real-time scenarios and make recommendations accordingly to maximize profitability and productivity for the farmers. This helps farmers make data-based decisions even without doing all of the interpretation and analysis themselves.

Improves the supply chain process:

Farm management ERP allows farmers to access and control every aspect of the farming lifecycle from cropping and growing to facilities and fleet. An ERP could solve for short term and long term goals. Daily activities could be effectively controlled by keeping the farmers up to date about agricultural reforms that may impact the business. ERP also can develop yearly marketing plans, which may constitute specific sales goals that aim to the best market trading circles. This kind of comprehensive data on the supply chain can help the farmer decide on overall strategies to maximize income, shelf life and stability and even market their products better. 

Key reasons for the adoption of Farm management software

Streamlined agriculture:

Farm management is vital in today’s era as it has the prospect to streamline every step in farm processes starting from crop planning, production to market identification, and distribution channels. 

Better budgeting:

ERP can make the farm or allied business to be a more budget-friendly business by making smart adjustments in costs and by being environmentally responsible. It could respond to unplanned high costs and track expenses and thereby letting you detect cost-intensive factors and control them.

Increased mobility:

The ERP helps store all the farm data digitally which helps to access the field from anywhere. This helps you make decisions concerning your farm on the move. 

Fiscal management:

Cash inflow and outflow such as loans, credits, amounts outstanding, pay dues, etc. could all be managed by Farm Management ERP.

Features to look for while choosing a Farm management ERP

Future-ready and scalable:

Some Farm Management ERPs may constantly adopt new technological advancements based on current agricultural reforms. While looking for an ERP, ensure that it suits your needs for today and tomorrow. Your agricultural business is growing and scaling in terms of land, output, needs, strategies and more. Ensure that your ERP’s architecture is flexible enough to meet your future needs. 

Farm life-cycle management:

The Farm Management software must be capable of aiding the farmers with guidance at all stages of the crop including Post Harvest Management (PHT). The software must enable the seamlessly integrated working of several other applications that help add to the efficiency of the farm. E.g. An ERP that gives up to date weather reports may not be able to send Locust warning unless a pest and disease management application works synchronously with it. Ensure that the ERP you choose works with your already existing Agri-tech stack. 

Offline functionality:

Network availability is still a question in many rural areas. Unavailability of network resources could hinder the proper functioning of the ERP. Hence, an ERP with the ability to perform key features offline is key to promising results in on-field conditions.

Localization:

An ERP with the ability to offer content multiple local languages has higher feasibility for the users in a rural setting. If those using the platform are more familiar in local languages such as Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, or Telugu, ensure that the system is localized to provide recommendations in the language of choice.  

The way forward

As we move into a world where the population is burgeoning at an exponential rate, there is a need to step up agricultural production to keep up. As the land resources are finite, there needs to be a way to sustainably use the land we do have to maximize output. These new proprietary solutions such as Farm Management ERPs and Farm Management software help farmers find new ways to optimize their resources, land, labour and more. 

With these new ERPs, farming has become an easier and more profitable business. The industry is slowly adopting agri-tech innovations and modernized processes to meet the challenges of feeding the world population. Smart farming, vertical farming, urban farming and a host of other innovations in the space are very promising and with farms becoming more and more like factories, the quality and reliability of the produce is unmatched. 

Only the farmers who adopt these new technologies will come out stronger than the competition. Farming is now just as tech-savvy as any other industrial sector and agriculturists need to keep up and catch up with the times.

Digitizing Agriculture: Applications of Farm Data

Digitizing Agriculture: Applications of Farm Data

The pandemic has made all agribusiness professionals muddled.

We miss our field visits and all the lush green farmlands we are used to seeing. Since work from home has begun, all farmer-interactions have turned digital while our face-to-face interactions grew faint.

In reminiscent of those moments spent on the field, I particularly recall an intriguing discussion that I had with a farmer from Solhapur on one of my field visits.

While taking notes on his farm data (or of what he could recall) to give him his farm business summary and insights, he asked, “How is this historical data helping me anyway? I know my inflows and outflows by heart and that is enough.”

At that point in time, my brief to him was simple – To know better about your farm and make better farming decisions.

His then unconvincing nod to my response kept me thinking what the true value of this farm data from a farmers’ perspective is.

And like any agribusiness professional would, I investigated the value of farm data for agribusinesses.

Capturing farm data

If you are not capturing the right data then you’d be in a bigger problem.

There are many methodologies to capture data but only the right combination of these would fulfill your objective.

1. Farmers manually feed the data into the system via a farm app or web interface.

2. Field Executive/Farm Managers relied upon as the local player to ensure data entry and farm data validation.

3. UAVs or Drones for mapping of farms to identify nutrient, soil moisture levels, geo-fencing, crop health monitoring and pest control.

4. IoT Sensors equipping farmers with data points like weather, field’s temperature, humidity, soil moisture and atmospheric data.

5. GIS technology captures via satellite on variables such as soil type, rainfall prediction, and wind direction for decision-making to maximize crop yield, provide yield prediction and maintain overall farm health.

Creating value and Application of farm data

How can I create value from farm data even if I successfully capture it? What are the data applications which help in complete crop management?

There are two viewpoints here: Farmers and Agribusinesses

 

Viewpoint 1: Farmers

 

Farm data is utilized to ensure high productivity and returns per crop which in turn leads to increased revenue per farm. The key value creation can be seen in below aspects:

 

1. Assistance in farm crop activities:

 

Digitization of farms directly benefits in end-to-end crop health management. All the necessary data points captured and processed can provide farmers with a personalized crop schedule for each farm. This would ensure that farmers get a step-by-step understanding of how crucial each farm activity would be in determining their farm yield by activity-linked predicting deviance.

 

2. Pest and disease management:

 

Only if crops could speak for themselves farmers would have known which ones are susceptible to pests and diseases. But until the point we reach that point in future, farmers can be rest assured for farm imagery to provide these insights. This ensures a healthy harvest for the market to gain high returns and reduce cost on curing crops.

 

3. Nutrition management:

 

Identifying the right dosage of nutrition is dependent on the soil health, the crop and its life cycle stage. But given how uneven the nutritional content within soil is, use of technology to map soil health at various spatial areas of the land under the same crop is vital for efficiency. Thanks to the sensors, for making it possible to accurately identify which area needs precise nutritional dose optimizing on the fertilizers costs.

 

4. Farm inventory management:

 

Farm inventory items are often noted as a component of overall costs. Farmers however fail to ascertain inventory cost per farm thereby remaining unaware of per farm cost. With digitization this process becomes easier. Using crop schedule guides you through farm activities identifying points of inventory utilization ensuring efficient purchase management.

 

5. Farm reports analysis:

 

Generating reports at the end of the season becomes smooth with graphs and charts of all the farm data. Farm P&L when visualized is a definite value add. Being stored in the cloud the worry of losing books or not using the data at all is never a worry for digitized farms. With each consecutive farm reports’ analysis, there is a learning opportunity for the farmers to initiate better farming methodologies.

 

Viewpoint 2: Agribusinesses

 

For Agribusinesses, it is the aggregation and analysis of farmers’ data that creates value.

 

1. Managing farmers’ network:

 

Value is in the farm data analytics which summarizes and visualizes farm data to make the decisions on-the-go. Within a week of cropping season, the live farm data can provide key insights for planning of large activities for the rest of the season. For instance, crop management data visualized in charts to see the number of farmers growing X crop under certain Y acreage with Z variety provides insight for estimating sourcing potential for procurement companies.

 

2. Developing better products:

 

Digitized agricultural farms enable R&D capabilities by capturing farm data points that were previously not introduced at large scale. For agri-input companies, evaluating product performance on a day-to-day basis and overall is similar to receiving unhindered live feedback.  For crop insurance and financial lending companies it adds to the farmer profile information where they can estimate risk beforehand by simplifying validation.

 

3. Ensuring quality food for sourcing:

 

Pest and disease incidence data for food sourcing companies helps to identify probable farm produce failure on desired residue levels and decreased yield. Decisions on testing and managing supply can be taken with this input. Weather forecasts can provide necessary alerts on potential damage to farm produce. Alerting farmers to ensure necessary steps are taken complying with quality standards.

 

4. Value added services for farmers:

 

Initiate and foster better farmer relations with farm data. In AgTech space, ‘-as-a-service’ business models benefit more from the farm data by creating and delivering services to farmers. By applying AI and ML algorithms to data on cloud for creating a better crop activity schedule and delivering advisory services against a charge.

 

5. Operations and Supply chain management:

 

Farm inventory and crop data gives agribusinesses a view on the total business potential for the season. Businesses can achieve high operational efficiency with live farm data by –

  • Activating appropriate sales channels and enabling sales tactics.
  • Cordial supply chain management to fulfill demand.

For farm output, yield estimation and prediction data provides insights on procurement and downstream activities of agribusinesses.

Taking A Different Approach

In retrospect, if I had the earlier mentioned conversation again what would I do differently? How would I help a farmer understand and convince of the importance of farm data?

Imagine you’re running a general store.

As a shopkeeper, you’d gather all relevant accounting information. The number of customers in a week, types of items purchased, volume and value of each and so on.

This historical data helps you manage your inventory, identify customer’s preferences, optimize on lead time and much more with the goal of reducing costs and increasing revenue.

Just like a shop, your farm data should be gathered in systematic order to help you farm better tomorrow. It is about creating farm-intelligence out of the farm data.

It empowers you with data-backed decision making ability. By taking a systematic approach, identifying farm problems, key crop growth drivers and managing capital becomes much easier.

What you need is a system that translates data into actionable insights for farmers.

Hopefully, this time around, farmers would be convinced and if they’re moved, who knows, they might even take action.