Tech-savvy farmers in the country can now look towards using an indigenously-manufactured microdrone, ‘Agrix1’, equipped with multi-spectral sensors and artificial tools, to identify crop diseases and pests and take timely remedial steps to boost their agri-income. And in doing so, they need not require the Government’s permission.
Agrix1 drone is the first remote-controlled unmanned vehicle in the country under the micro category to get the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCGA) nod for the agriculture sector, requiring no special permit for flying.
“It can be flown without requiring a special UAOP permit from the Government. In other words, farmers do not need to seek special pilot approval and can fly them on their own. However, since the technology is new, we are interfacing with the interested farmers,” said Aakash Sinha, CEO of Omnipresent Robot Technologies which has launched the micro agriculture drone with multispectral capabilities.
The remote-controlled vehicle allows farmers to detect crop diseases up to 10 days before any visual features of the malady show up, thus helping them save the crop from damage and boost yield up to 20 per cent, Sinha said.
He further explained that detection of the disease is achieved with the help of on-board five-band multispectral sensor that can gather information in red, green, blue, infrared, near red and red-edge bands.
Sinha pointed out that the Artificial Intelligence software called ‘Nerve Centre’ (developed by his firm) helps quickly identify crop diseases from UAV data and automates the process of digitisation and classification of crops.
Given that at least 50 per cent of India’s GDP is still agriculture-based, it is hoped that such drones can play a big role in boosting agriculture yield by 10-20 per cent. Crop diseases and pests have become a major headache for the farmers in recent years due to pollution and climate change impacts.
However, as Indian farms tend to be small and a single farm’s plots are often scattered throughout a region, Agrix1 is currently helpful for large agricultural areas only.
To this effect, Omnipresent is working jointly with a large agriculture industry player in Telangana using the drone. “We are developing machine learning algorithms to quickly identify diseases in crops using large amounts of training data. Additionally, we plan to deploy a sprayer drone for taking appropriate corrective action on affected crops.
“Automated disease identification and remedial measures using drones would be a big game changer for the agriculture industry and farmers and we are looking forward to disrupting this segment,” said Sinha.