An Overview

Technological change has been the major driving force for increasing agricultural productivity and promoting agriculture development in India. In the past, the choice of technologies and their adoption was to increase production, productivity and farm incomes. Over many decades, policies for agriculture, trade, research and development, education, training and advice have been strong influences on the choice of technology, the level of agricultural production and farm practices.

Agriculture is becoming more integrated in the agro-food chain and the global market, while environmental, food safety and quality, and animal welfare regulations are also increasingly impacting the sector. It is faced with new challenges to meet growing demands for food, to be internationally competitive and to produce agricultural products of high quality. At the same time, it must meet sustainability goals in the context of on-going agricultural policy reform, further trade liberalization and the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements.

Our Main Focus

Today, farmers, advisors and policy makers are faced with complex choices. They are faced with a wide range of technologies that are either available or under development; they must deal with the uncertainties of both the effects these new technologies will have throughout the agro-food chain and the impact that a whole range of policies will have on the sustainability of farming systems. In addition, there is increasing pressure on agricultural research and advisory budgets that must be accommodated.

The focus of the center for Excellence is to the adoption of technologies that have the potential to contribute to sustainable farming systems. Technology adoption, however, is a broad concept. It is affected by the development, dissemination and application at the farm level of existing and new biological, chemical and mechanical techniques, all of which are encompassed in farm capital and other inputs; it is also affected by education, training, advice and information which form the basis of farmers’ knowledge. It also includes technologies and practices in the whole agro-food sector that have an impact at the farm level. Finally, it should be borne in mind that most of these new technologies originate outside the farm sector.

The concept of a sustainable farming system refers to the capacity of agriculture over time to contribute to overall welfare by providing sufficient food and other goods and services in ways that are economically efficient and profitable, socially responsible, while also improving environmental quality. It is a concept that can have different implications in terms of appropriate technologies whether it is viewed at the farm level, at the agro-food sector level, or in the context of the overall domestic economy. The key traditional farming systems and intervention required are as follows:

Diversify Farming

When a farmer is engaged in a multitude of farm enterprises, it is referred to as diversified farming. If a large number of crop enterprises, with or without a number of non-crop enterprises, are run by a single farmer, it is referred to as diversified farming. Raising five or six crops makes it diversified. The motive behind diversified farming is self-sufficiency. Diversified farming are a set of methods and tools developed to produce food sustainably by leveraging ecological diversity at plot, field, and landscape scales. Food crops are planted, and animals are grazed in ways that replenish natural ecosystems. Diversified agriculture is critical to feed the world population reliably and in perpetuity while mitigating climate change and avoiding a collapse of the ecological systems on which human survival depends.

Ranching

Refers to the practice of grazing animals on the public lands. Some public lands may also be used for raising livestock. In India ranching is prevalent, to some extent, in the hilly regions that are rich in pastures and grazing lands. Ranching is the practice of raising herds of animals on large tracts of land. Ranchers commonly raise grazing animals such as cattle and sheep. The ranching and livestock industry is growing faster than any other agricultural sector in the world hot brands are less frequently used on modern ranches. Ear-tags and ink tattoos are more common. Many ranchers use microchips instead of brands. A microchip is implanted under the skin of the animal. The microchip uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) to not only identify the animal’s owner, but also to relay information about its location and health. Livestock raised on ranches are an important part of a region's agriculture. Livestock provide meat for human and animal consumption. They also supply materials, such as leather and wool, for clothing, furniture, and other industries.

Mixed Farming

It is the combining of two independent agricultural enterprises on the same farm. A typical case of mixed farming is the combination of crop enterprise with dairy farming or in more general terms, crop cultivation with livestock farming. Mixed farming may be treated as a special case of diversified farming. This particular combination of enterprises support each other and add to the farmer’s profitability. Mixed farming is a system of farming in which a farmer conducts different types of agricultural practices together, on a single farm in view of increasing his income through different sources, is called mixed farming. Mixed farming system can be defined as

  • The use of a single farm for multiple purposes, as the growing of cash crops or the raising of livestock is called mixed farming.
  • Farming involving both the growing of crops and the keeping of livestock is called mixed farming.
  • A type of commercial agriculture concerned with the production of both crops and animals on one farm. Stock on a mixed farm used to be grazed on fallow land, but many modern mixed farms produce some, or all, of their fodder crops.

Dry and Irrigated Farming

  • Dry Farming is followed in areas where rainfall is deficient and there is no assured source of artificial irrigation, is referred to as dry farming. Dry farming originated in the nineteenth century to accelerate the production of certain crops, most notably wheat.
  • Irrigated Farming with assured water supply from artificial sources of irrigation is known as irrigated farming.

Precision Farming

The frontiers of technologies have been constantly expanded in many industries around the world, including the agricultural sector. Among many “frontier technologies” in agriculture, are protected agriculture, precision agriculture, and vertical farming, all of which depart substantially from many conventional agricultural production methods. While the costs of adopting these technologies have remained high, continuous innovations have led to either the development of less sophisticated but more affordable technologies or systems, and / or the overall reductions in the technology costs in general.

The Centre of excellence is focusing on précising farming. It is generally defined as an information and technology-based farm management system to identify, analyze and manage variability within fields for optimum profitability, sustainability and protection of the land resource. Precision farming is concerned more with managing small areas within fields rather than on the fields itself and presumes that the farmer who effectively uses information earns higher returns than those who do not. However in the Indian Context with its severe land fragmentation precision farming has to do more with the precise application of agricultural inputs based on soil, weather and crop requirement to maximize sustainable productivity, quality and profitability.

Hi tech Agriculture is one method of precision farming on a smaller scale where plant protection and fertigation are applied at the root zone and plants are grown in precise conditions of temperature and humidity for uniformity and maximization of yield. There are two approaches viz., Greenhouse / poly house system and open air system.

a. Green House (Poly House)

Greenhouse Technology is the technique of providing favorable environment conditions to the plants. Of all agricultural production activities, the greenhouse industry is worldwide the fastest growing sector. The greenhouse is goldmines that offer the most profitable business opportunities. The use of the greenhouse is mainly for the production of seasonal and non- seasonal crops, for the production of high-quality flowers, vegetables, and the preparation of nursery prepared by tissue culture. The proposed green houses would be high tech and relatively most modern. The facilities would include, besides most appropriate design with gutters and proper vents etc., automated equipment for temperature and humidity control and monitoring, drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation along with water treatment plant and bore.

The key interventions envisage by the Centre of Excellence in implementation of Sustainable farming are as follows: challenges and limitation.

  • Setting up commercial Demonstration Projects: considering the new technologies for adoption of technologies related to the issue for farmers, extension services, agri-business etc.
  • Import of Global best practices and Technology: Centre of Excellence shall try level best to bring the technology at farm level which is getting developed in a global market. This will impact sustainability beyond the farm.
  • Research efforts, farmer education and training, advice, and information: This initiative will change the thought process of farmers for shifting towards balancing economic efficiency with environmental and social sustainability.
  • Creation of Demand for adoption of technologies: Farmers have always looked to new technologies as a way to reduce costs. In addition, higher incomes, greater knowledge, and improved channels of communication are leading consumers to demand low-cost food of higher quality increasingly produced through organic methods in many countries, with more variety, consistency and year-round availability.