Estimating Crop Yield Intelligently Using Tech and Drones : Daily Current Affairs

Relevance: GS-3: e-technology in the Aid of Farmers

Key Phrases: Population Explosion, Climate Change-related Uncertainties, Agricultural Revolution, Farmers’ Physical and Financial Health, Rythu Bharosa Kendra, Industrial Revolution 4.0, Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Farming


  • Rapid agricultural transformation is the need of the hour considering its significant contribution to the economy and the rising global food security concerns.
  • The ongoing war in Ukraine has altered the global food supply dynamics, and it is expected that the demand for food by 2050 will be 56 percent more than what it was in 2010 as around 2 billion is likely to be added to the global population by then.

Key Highlights:

  • It is estimated that nearly 670 million people across the world will be undernourished by 2030.
  • Agricultural processes need to become modern with the help of the latest technologies amidst threats of population explosion and climate change-related uncertainties, especially in a country like India where farming is associated with uncertainties.
  • One of the biggest problems for farmers in India is their inability to estimate the outcome of their efforts as they mostly depend on manual methods.
  • This limits their ability to command a better price, obtain formal credit lines, go to larger markets and even secure insurance claims within time.

Revolutions in agriculture with new technologies:

  • With the strong substantial Government backing for the use of new technologies like drones and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in farming, things are now changing fast for agriculture and farmers in India.
  • The use of drones and the latest industry 4.0 technologies are set to trigger an agricultural revolution in the country.
  • While pilot projects in agriculture are already running in many parts of India, several states have plans ready to use technology in areas like crop estimation to boost farmers’ physical and financial health.
  • Andhra Pradesh has made a plan to launch 10,000 drones in phases through its Rythu Bharosa Kendra.
  • States such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu are working with drone manufacturers, farmers’ organizations, and state agriculture universities to roll out drones this year.

Some ways in which drones and the latest technologies help in intelligent crop estimation:

  1. Accurate estimates of crop yield:
    • Images generated by drones over farmlands serve as crucial inputs for crop yield estimation and validation.
    • Using multispectral and hyperspectral payloads, drones increase the accuracy of yield analysis.
    • The rich data derived from such analysis can be used by the farmers, insurers, and other stakeholders to make near-accurate estimates of crop yield and determine expected income or loss in advance.
    • Government and market players would be in a better position to fix the demand and supply metrics, leading to an increase in farmers’ income.
  2. Timely Agri-insurance Claim Settlements:
    • Data collected with the use of technology can lead to timely agri-insurance claim settlement under schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
    • Traditionally, farm yields have been measured manually at the time of harvest.
    • This practice delayed insurance claim settlements and also provided farmers with little time to plan an effective sale strategy, often forcing them to sell at a lower price.
    • The use of sophisticated technologies can now enable farmers to secure better returns for their efforts.
    • At the same time, they allow banks to disburse farm loans faster by making crop assessments digital.
  3. Overcoming limitations of Satellite Monitoring:
    • Drones can remove the limitations of satellite monitoring, which is often limited by cloudy weather conditions.
    • Especially in the hills, satellite imagery is affected by shadows depending on the time of the day.
    • In contrast, images obtained with the help of drones have better resolution.
    • With the combined use of remote sensing methods like space imaging and the power of drones, crop yield estimation and loss assessment can be more effective, accurate, and timelier.
  4. Efficiency in input delivery:
    • The use of drones and technology can ensure that crops like wheat, paddy, chilli, cotton, and others receive an adequate amount of fertilizer, insecticide, or pesticide in the quickest possible time.
  5. Carrying out manual farm activities with efficiency:
    • Drones can also be used for carrying out routine manual farm activities like spraying pesticides, maximizing overall productivity by optimizing crop inputs and reducing wastage.
  6. Identification of crop-related diseases in advance:
    • By using multispectral camera sensors mounted on drones, farmers can identify crop-related diseases in advance and take corrective action to boost output.
    • With the help of mounted cameras, they can act like an eye in the sky for farmers, enabling them to monitor crop growth.

What are the government initiatives towards the use of technology in agriculture?

  1. Faster Insurance claims: In 2020, the Government of India launched a large scale pilot study in 100 districts of 10 states to assess crop yields at the gram panchayat level by use of advanced technology to ensure timely settlement of claims under the Pradhan Mantra Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
  2. Kisan Drones: In Budget 2022, the Government announced plans to launch Kisan Drones for crop assessments, digitization of land records, and spraying of insecticides and nutrients.
  3. Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization: The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare has announced revised guidelines for the "Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization" (SMAM) scheme. The scheme aims to expand farm mechanization access to small and marginal farmers and to the regions with low farm power availability

Some limitations of Agri drones:

  1. Connectivity issue: Online coverage is unavailable in rural areas. Under such circumstances, a farmer needs to invest in internet connectivity, which can turn into a recurring expense.
  2. Weather dependent: Under rainy or windy weather conditions, it is not advisable to fly drones.
  3. Knowledge and Skill: It requires the right skillset and adequate knowledge without which an average farmer may struggle to understand drone functions.


  • The total area of cultivation in India has remained constant for decades, thus, improving soil nutrients is critical for high productivity.
  • Precision agriculture through GPS-based drone technology is expected to play a pivotal role here.
  • Kisan drones could be a disrupter in India’s traditional agri-industry. It can make farming more intelligent, precise and productive.
  • Many Indian startups are also showing interest in the industry and aiming to invest in low-cost drones, which can help farmers and simultaneously create employment opportunities for the rural youth and enhance the knowledge of farmers as well.
  • However, the industry needs mature reforms, keeping in mind the growing population, the needs of the farmers, operational policies, and the shrinking farmlands.
  • Moreover, trained pilots are needed to take forward the still untapped drone market.

Source: The Hindu BL

Mains Question:

Q. Rapid agricultural transformation is the need of the hour considering its significant contribution to the economy and the rising global food security concerns. In the light of the above statement, discuss the role drones can play in increasing crop productivity and ensuring food security. (250 words).