Use of ICT and Sensor Network Technology in Agriculture in Bihar

Bihar Govt has rightly recognized the potential of agriculture in growth of Bihar. For this purpose a separate “Agriculture Cabinet” has been formed. Road map for agriculture for next 10 years with a massive outlay has been planned as well.

In November and December 2011, I made two visits to Bihar and interacted with Agricultural Research Institute, Farmers and some young Social Entrepreneurs focusing on agriculture. I have also noticed the fact that some of the farmers in Bihar have done world record production of paddy and this encourages me to write this brief note.

In 2011, on behalf of IIT Alumni (Gujarat Chapter) I signed an MOU with Gujarat Govt to “Improve Agricultural Yield using Technology”. I feel that some of the points mentioned in that MOU are also relevant to Bihar. I am willing to work together with Bihar Govt to develop these technologies. The technologies that I am talking about are not part of standard agricultural technologies being covered but are more recent and are under development worldwide. While I would have hesitated to discuss such technologies in Bihar earlier since they would only be beneficial after farmers have started utilizing existing technologies. However now that I have noticed Bihar making fast progress in agriculture, I feel that time is ripe to take up research and development, which would take Bihar to next level and keep it ahead in Nation and World. I would mention these as follows:

Precision farming using sensor network– using the localized sensors linked with wireless communication system to provide real time feedback on various parameters which affect crop yield. As compared to the developed countries, our farm sizes are very small hence we need to develop low cost solutions based on latest advancements in MEMS sensors, micro radio transceivers and processing systems. This would allow us to monitor the spatial variation in moisture, soil properties, hardpan, nutritional status etc. on a much smaller scale.
This kind of technology would allow us to improve the quality of our fruits and vegetables as well as products being developed in green houses. While the basic concept is not new, it is critical to develop such technology at very low cost to make it economical to farmers in Bihar.

Use of Space Technology through Hyper Spectral Imaging– Using the advances in Communication and Remote sensing to create a systematic natural resources database and also to research in the advance area of Hyper Spectral remote sensing to compliment the Soil Health Card Program at ground level.
Soil health card system uses ground level periodic monitoring of soil related information(e.g. every 6 months) based on mobile soil labs to farmers in the villages. This measurement can be supplemented by Hyper Spectral Imaging already available in public domain to provide much greater spatial information and complements the information provided by “Soil Health Card”.

Low cost non-invasive sorting systems – It has now become possible to develop low cost sorting non-invasive machine based on advances in CMOS image sensors and LED light source to sort the agricultural yield based on their attributes such as their quality, size and maturity stage. This would allow farmers to get a better price in the market and would also make it easier for them to access the export market.

Traceability systems development – Traceability is a very important factor in today’s fresh produce industry. With more and more export market coming up with rules for food traceability, it is important to develop low cost technology to meet the needs of food traceability from “seed to plate”.

Traditional systems are very expensive and we need to develop low cost system so that farmers in Bihar are able to export their product in International market, which is going to be crucial for Bihar in next few years.

GIS based planning : Today it has become possible to collect information through remote sensing as well as ground survey using Mobile phones (e.g. Android based systems) regarding crop, water resources, soil condition, weather and all other parameters and add them to a Geographical Information System (GIS) to allow easy access to information and use them in planning. Some of this data can be made available on real time basis through wireless sensor network such as Agro-Weather Sensor Network. It would give a big boost to the way we manage and plan our agriculture.

Author: Prabhat Ranjan

Prof. Prabhat Ranjan is Vice Chancellor, D Y Patil International University, Akurdi, Pune. He was heading India's Technology Think Tank, TIFAC( as its Executive Director since April 2013 to April 2018. Earlier he was Professor at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute for Information and Communication Technology, Gandhinagar (DA-IICT) since 2002. He was educated in Netarhat School(near Ranchi), IIT Kharagpur and Delhi University. He received his Ph D from University of California, Berkeley where he carried our research on “Nuclear Fusion” at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory during 1983-86. He immediately returned to India after this and carried out research in Nuclear Fusion area at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Calcutta and Institute for Plasma Research(IPR), Gandhinagar. He played a major role in India’s Nuclear Fusion program and was Project Leader of the largest operational Indian Fusion Reactor, ADITYA, at Institute for Plasma Research from 1996-2002. His current interests include applications of Wireless Sensor Network to Wildlife, Planetary Exploration (Chandrayaan mission), Nuclear Fusion, Healthcare, Agriculture etc. He has received National Science Talent Search Award, IBM Faculty Innovation Grant and HP Innovate 2009 award, NPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award 2012, Bihar Gaurav Samman 2012 etc. In March 2022, he was also honored with EduStar India’s Most Impactful Vice Chancellor Award for 2021-22. He has been recognized by outlook among few visionaries, who can lead India towards 5 Trillion Dollar Economy. He has been also honoured with Maharashtra Ratna Gaurav Puraskar by Shalini Foundation in 2024. He is also recognized among the top “100 Great IITians : Dedicated to the Service of the Nation”.

2 thoughts on “Use of ICT and Sensor Network Technology in Agriculture in Bihar”

  1. Prabhat, No doubt you are giving innovative ideas to Bihar government! But please take one thing in mind that NDA government is not developing Bihar-but Bihar is developing by the efforts of the people of Bihar themselves. You must visit rural Bihar-there you will find the crux of the facts. Small and marginal farmers are making huge efforts to make more and more yeilds from their small holdings! So called much-announced schemes to benefit for farming hardly reach them either through banks or Bihar government machinery. Much-hyped agriculture road maps appear to be en eye-wash: you will find the fate of such road maps in near future! No doubt some atmosphere has been created of development mind-set among the people-but the state machinery is neck-deep in corruption, specially from panchayat-level to district level. There is need of land reforms-thousands of acres with big land owners even today are left without any crops, deliberately by big land holders. There had been tremendous growth in the farm land of small and marginal farmers-not big land loards, having hundreds of acres but no crops and no yeild. Need of the hour to distribute surplus land to the tillers. Agriculture sector is the only hope for Bihar- it should be given top priority but lack of land reforms this road map for farming has no meanings. You must have seen the Bihar government has formed a an innovative team without a scientist of repute , specially from Bihar!-Here in Bihar gadahe angur khate hain, salon se! Excuse me for some harsh paraphrasing!my blog

  2. K K Singh Jee,
    Thanks for your comments! I am just looking at the whole thing from technology point of view, which would eventually reach farmers. These things take time to develop and perfect so one does not know which govt would be in power, when it gets used.

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