Precision agriculture has become a talking point among the farmers around the globe. It helps farmers to maximize their harvests while using the fewest amount of resources including water, seeds, and fertilizers. The thought of using data to amplify food production and dismiss environmental damage, maximize productivity and cut the expenses has achieved farmers’ attention.
Aforementioned techniques are widely used in U.S., mainly for high-value crops. But still precision farming is at its beginning, as it is a rarely known concept in developing countries. The farmers in developing countries, still work on ‘feel’ than on ‘fact’ when it comes to agriculture. Their ideas about the area of land they possess and the requirement of soil fertility are based on pure assumptions.
IDEO.org has come to their rescue by providing low-cost precision agriculture to the farmers. They started by researching in Kenya, Myanmar, and Tanzania by using prototyping equipment. They thought of adapting digital sensors and GPS mapping for poorer countries. After knowing the needs of local people, they came up with several product ideas. They’re working on two of those ideas in Myanmar, with a local partner-Proximity Designs.
IDEO.org is an organization that is changing lives through dedicated innovation and great design since 2011. Their mission is to diminish poverty by human-centered design. Being a nonprofit organization, they create such human-centered design not only for their own use but for everyone by sharing, and teaching them the same. They have several other nonprofit organizations, foundations, and social enterprises as partners. Together they address sectors such as health, agriculture, financial inclusion, water and sanitation, and gender equity.
Taking a step forward towards precision agriculture, IDEO.org’s design director Adam Reineck says, “Technology for precision agriculture is now at a point where it is easy to prototype, and it’s cheap too.” Even with low-tech tools, farmers can considerably increase the productivity of their farms. IDEO has introduced a smartphone app that will help farmers to map their land as an agent walks around the field’s perimeter. Additionally they’ve also designed a moisture sensor to accurately measure the water requirements of the soil. This irrigation stick(moisture sensor) is a solar-powered stick that has five LED lights, top two indicates too much water, the bottom two indicate too liitle water; and the middle one indicates that the field has optimal moisture.
Proximity Design’s extension agents use these techniques to analyze farmland accurately, evaluating soil type, and weather conditions, that helps in organizing farm loans and decreasing the risks faced by funders and farmers.