IIT Palakkad's agri centre plans AI-based solution to revolutionise Indian farming

IIT Palakkad’s Smart AgriTech Centre for Advanced Research and Development (SATCARD) team members in front of one of the weather stations set up at the campus. Photo: Special arrangements

Palakkad: In a groundbreaking initiative, IIT Palakkad’s Smart AgriTech Centre for Advanced Research and Development (SATCARD) is poised to come up with a one-stop solution to address the most critical challenges in the agricultural sector through the development of cost-effective, Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based agricultural technologies.
It has built an AI solution to help farmers find the best crop suited for their agricultural land, analysing properly the changes in climate, detecting pest attacks and diseases at an early stage, monitoring healthy crop growth and recommending when and where to water at what time effectively.

“Farmers will be given all information required for the best possible productivity. What we have developed is based on reinforcement learning. We can integrate the data received from AI, sensors and drones to enhance agricultural productivity. The centre has already innovated numerous sensors that provide intelligent decisions to farmers based on data-driven AI models,” Dr Sreenath Vijayakumar, head-SATCARD and assistant professor at IIT Palakkad told Onmanorama.

The centre's current focus revolves around several key areas such as designing and developing a sophisticated smart sensor fusion system, establishing an AI-based framework for early detection of plant diseases, developing and testing intelligent soil sensors for precise estimation of crucial soil parameters and researching and experimenting with smart weather stations for comprehensive microclimate assessment and improved weather forecasting.

Innovations such as smart soil moisture-conductivity sensors, indigenous multi-depth soil sensors measuring soil moisture, and remote sensing-based yield enhancement have been developed. A multi-spectral imaging-based device for early-stage pest and disease detection aids farmers in identifying and monitoring healthy crop growth, providing timely recommendations for pesticide and water application.

A smart weather station has been deployed in various farmlands – on IIT Campus, Malampuzha, Kanjikode and Walayar on an experimental basis. They tested the performance of the weather station in a chilli farm field in Kanjikode. The productivity and research results were highly productive, according to farmers. 

These stations suggest to farmers the real-time amounts of water and pesticides needed for their plants. Farmers, initially hesitant about using this tech support, are now excited about the high yield of their harvest, according to the SATCARD team.

“The centre aspires to foster an interest among youth in farming, encouraging them to explore the vast possibilities within agriculture, with the overarching goal of ushering in a new era of sustainable farming practices” said Prof A Seshadri Sekhar, Director, IIT Palakkad.

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