February 24, 2021 9:00:04 pm
For grape growers in Nashik, the vagaries of weather are perhaps the most dreaded times in the lifecycle of their crop. While various tools are available in the markets, what is lacking are precision-based tools which help farmers manage their input cycle in the most efficient manner. An in-house and cost-effective solution developed jointly by Sensartics and Nashik- based Sahyadri Farmers Producers Company (FPC) can provide an answer to this problem especially for the grape growers in the region.
The brain child of Parag Narvekar, Sensartics has three levels of solutions, aimed at individual farmers to a whole village. Narvekar, whose academic and professional career has seen him rubbing shoulders with the best of scientists at IIT Bombay and NASA, said the solutions offered by his company are more economical than other solutions available in the market. “What we aim to do is to arm the grape grower with right technology and knowledge to make the right decision,” he said.
Scalar stations are the entry-level solutions offered by the company which is installed at individual farms of small holders. Narvekar said sensors are installed at rootzone level of the vines to measure soil moisture, soil electrical conductivity and temperature. Similarly, the canopy has sensors which measure humidity, temperature and leaf wetness. Such data, Narvekar said, helps farmers manage and prevent fungal attacks well ahead of time. Fungal attacks, like mild dew or powdery mild dew, are one of the most common problems faced by grape growers, which not only increases their input costs but can also result in crop loss. Thus, this data from these sensors can help farmers prevent such attacks. “The cost of a scalar station is around Rs 10,000 and annual maintenance is around Rs 2,000/-,” he said. At present there are seven such scalar stations installed in Nashik.
Tracer stations are designed for slightly larger holdings, which along with the scalar stations have a rain gauge and other sensors. The rain guages helps farmers understand and plan their irrigation plans much better. Data from the weather stations, Narvekar said, can be considered for insurance claims, given the quality of the sensors available. These stations are priced at Rs 20,000, he said.
At the village-level, the company has full-fledged weather stations called master stations. Like all other weather stations, master stations are fully equipped with all sensors and equipment necessary for local0level weather forecast. While weather forecasts are available at taluka levels, the master stations can allow for data generation at village levels and thus be used for precision agriculture. “Farmers in a 5×5 km area can come together to invest in such a station, which can then help them manage their crops in a larger area,” he said.
Import substitution, Narvekar said, is the main secret behind the cost optimisation obtained by them. “At present we have installed five master stations and three tracer stations,” he said.
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