We the Bhoomi saviors...
Here comes the idea.
Don't take the farmers to the soil testing officials. Don't take the officials to the farmers.
Bring them under one roof. One roof, where they can share everything in a single place, and the farmers don't have to literally go to the officials, because the official is 24*7 there with him.
No we are not thinking of literally moving the farmers and officials in a single place. Though it'll happen, but in a figurative way.
The image above gives a pretty good idea about what we are striving for.
Without revealing the technicalities in a summarized manner all that we can say is that, we have established the "concept" of the amazingly unique technology which can estimate the amount of moisture in the soil, compute it's humidity and figure out it's acidity as well. All these parameters can be used to inform the farmer what are the issues occurring with his soil by figuring out the parameters which are going out of the allowed deviation from an ideal condition for that particular crop.
This will ensure that the farmer does not over-irrigate his fields, thereby not only protecting the soil and ensuring effective fertilizer usage and allowing plants to breathe(yeah, a lot can happen), but will also help in protecting the groundwater table, because around 66% of the irrigation facilities are linked to the groundwater.
This technology will be linked to a mobile app and that app is what will provide the farmer with the all the regular information. This app will also be linked to some of our personally hired officials.
There is another of the newly handed techniques that we are working on as of yet, which will tell to an exact measurement about the soil nutrients, and with that the farmer will now know the precise value of his soil's nutrients and can thus make out whether which particular fertilizer he needs to use and that to with exact amounts.
Another of the services we have figured out is to have an app feature wherein by entering one's location one can have a general and ideal crop pattern, that he/she can follow. And since on a personal detail the farmer might feel there's a better pattern to follow, we'll have some link-ups and database management done to the app using which the farmer will have the option to contact the nearest official who can guide him for best crop rotation pattern.
Another of the details in the app that we are concentrating upon is the right pattern for using fertilizers. As remarked in one of the earlier posts, the fertilizers are to be deployed in such a way that they surround the roots. Thus we'll have a general pattern of roots particular to a crop set-up inside our app, and this will ensure that the farmer knows how to make the most out of the smallest amount of fertilizers, thereby cutting up on his fertilizer's costs even more.
Wait for it...
To feed 9 billion people will need a lot of work. So much produce must be grown. But we are no more in the era of black-and-white cinema. The world is colored now. We have the power of technology. And being a group of enthusiastic engineers, we knew that we have a humungous power in our hands, and we need to use this power to change the face of Indian Agriculture.
Working in the direction of the factors of soil fertility and over-irrigation, we did a lot of brainstorming and came to the conclusion that it isn't that India does not have the facilities to perform soil testing or perform optimum irrigation methods, the fact is most of the farmers aren't using them because of the hard-work that he has to do in going to the organizations which conduct the soil testing. The farmers are Lazy. And so are the officials who are supposed to do the testing. But then come to think of it every human in this world is wickedly lazy(We're all thinking now, "Guilty"). Now under usual circumstances everyone thinks of what can we do make the farmers aware enough and taking them to the officials. But is it necessary to have that same line of thought. Why not try something else. Why not take the officials to the farmers?!?!?!?
So what are the possibilities?!?!?!?
To feed a population of 9 billion in the year 2050!
Think of it carefully. Parts of the world are already facing food scarcity and it's still 2015, which means a population of 7 billion. Where in the world do we get food to feed another 2 billion people when we are not being able to cater the needs of the 7 billion already on the planet.
But as Mahatma Gandhi rightly said,
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
We at Bhoomi think that not only it is our responsibility but also our obligation to figure out how to make the world a self-sustained place, because we ourselves are the future of this world.
The three viably possible methods that we could think of are:-
We at "Bhoomi" did a lot of Brain-stroming and concluded that population control is way off the limits at the moment. We need to concentrate either on increasing land or productivity. But our research showed that Agriculture is already the sector which absorbs around 51% of the land in India, and since vertical farming is already quite popular. The only possibility that remained was increasing the productivity.
In the string of articles posted till now, we have illustrated the factors which we think are worth to concentrate upon along with the data which shows the impact of those factors. But now comes the point where we need to reveal the solution we want to propose.
Why go for these "Degraders"?
As the data collected by FAO(Food and Agricultural Organization) suggests, the Advanced methods of Agricultural Technology have the capability of increasing crop productivity by 100 to 200% while increasing the water use efficiency too by 100 to 200%. India is ranked amongst the lowest countries in terms of agricultural production, although it is ranked second(just behind the United States) in terms of the land under cultivation. The same rice seed used in India, China and the United States generates 2.8 tonnes per hectare in India, 5.4 tonnes in china and 8 tonnes in the United States.
As suggested by Clay Chandler and Adil Zainulbhai(Authors of Reimagining India: Unlocking the potential of Asia's next Superpower), the basic reasons for such a low productivity is mismanagement of resources.
Farmers tend to adopt flood irrigation systems than go for drip irrigation, because of lack of awareness of the impacts of over-irrigation. And since the soil in India has lower penetration depth, thus most of the water keeps moving around the roots, thus not allowing them to breath, which not only hinders the growth of plants but can also lead to their death.
They prefer the highly subsidized fertilizer: Urea because of low rates, and not care about what soil nutrient their soil is deficient in. Rather than increasing their productivity, this illogical use of urea tends to decrease the productivity by approximately 30%.
Research carried out in Tamil Nadu suggests that using the adequate amount of fertilizers and adequate loads of irrigation for a period of 6 months increased the productivity of rice from 2 tonnes per hectare to 4 tonnes per hectare, of cotton lint from 390 to 810 and that of brinjal from 8 to 17. While this data is attractive, further extrapolation has shown that if the adequacies are maintained for longer durations there is a potential of generating 6 tonnes per hectare of rice, 2200 tonnes per hectare of Cotton Lint, and 30 tonnes per hectare of Brinjal.
Thus one can easily see that in order to increase productivity and feed an ever increasing population of the world we don't need to get more area under cultivation or adopt new practices but we need to implement the proven practices in the same place.
The degraders of our Mother-Land 3.0
In the series of the degraders of soil that we are focusing on, next comes the malpractice of improper usage of fertilizers. It isn't enough to just know exactly what fertilizer to use, one needs to be aware that there's a difference in "knowing the concept" and "applying the concept". One might know from the soil tests that his soil is lacking in a particular nutrient but the problem is due to unawareness of application procedure for fertilizers people tend to just clog up all the fertilizers around the central stem of the plant they want to support using fertilizers. However the fact is that the right functioning of fertilizers can happen only when the fertilizers are used in such a way that the presence of fertilizers is approximately where the roots of the plant are supposedly going to be. This is so because the roots are the part of the plant which tend to perform the exchange of nutrients.
When we have clogged up the fertilizers around the stem itself, then upon irrigating the fields most of the fertilizer content is simply absorbed by the soil, i.e. it mixes up with the content of the soil, hence increasing the alkalinity and salinity of soil, which renders the plant growth affected negatively, than positively.
Thus before using the fertilizers one needs to know exactly what is the root pattern of the crop we are planting and then the fertilizers need to be used in such a way that the roots are surrounded by the fertilizer in a well-verse way, so that the absorption process occurs mostly with the roots, and the soil properties are not affected.