Applications of Geospatial tools and techniques in Agriculture and allied areas
Space technology applications in agriculture and allied areas in north eastern states took big leap after the establishment of NESAC. A number of user specific and R&D projects were initiated since 2002. The North-Eastern Region of India, comprising the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura, has a total cropped area of 5.3 million hectares and a population of around 45.6 million. The region is characterized by difficult terrain, wide variations in slopes, altitude, land tenure systems and diverse cultivation practices. Shifting cultivation is common in NER and a large number of tribal ethnic minorities are practicing shifting cultivation. In certain parts of this region it is practised not only by the tribal minorities but also by the landless people and lowland migrants. Following are the few major areas of remote sensing applications in Agriculture and allied areas.
Crop Acreage Estimation
The agricultural production system in the NE region is predominantly rain fed, mono-cropped at subsistence level. The information system and database of agricultural statistics in the region is very weak particularly for the hilly states. This is mainly due the fact that these areas are not having cadastral surveys and area measurements are recorded on an adhoc basis. Under such circumstances, there is scope of enhancing the capabilities of existing system of crop acreage estimation with the adoption of modern tools like remote sensing and geographic information system. Considering the fact that reliable information on the acreage and production of different crops in the hilly states are not available, a project under FASAL programme titled ‘Developing remote sensing based methodology for collecting crop statistics in north eastern hilly region’ has been undertaken in a phased manner since 2003-04. Results of Rice acreage estimation has been found to be satisfactory and made operational. The pilot project taken the state of Meghalaya and Tripura has now been extended to all 7 north eastern hilly states viz., Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. Currently acreage estimation of Sali paddy areas using remote sensing, GIS and ground based observations at block level in Meghalaya is in progress, which is sponsored by Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Meghalaya
Soil and Land Capability Mapping
The agricultural production system in the region is predominantly rainfed, mono-cropped at subsistence level with significant areas still under shifting cultivation practices. At about 1,520 kg/hectare, land productivity is very low in the region has tremendous scope for improving the productivity with efficient management of the resources. Mapping of soil and land capability is one of the prime requirements towards efficient management of soil resources. Under a NEC funded project, NESAC is carrying out Soil and Land Capability mapping in major agricultural districts in NER. Under Soil Resource Mapping (SRM) project coordinated by Soil and Land use Survey of India (SLUSI), NESAC is carrying out soil resource mapping in 7 districts in the region. NESAC is also contributing in Soil Carbon Pool analysis under National Carbon project. Identification of suitable areas for expansion of Boro rice in Meghalaya has recently been completed, where soil fertility maps were prepared at 1:50,000 scale. Methodology has been developed for land evaluation for organic crop planning in Assam with geospatial techniques under EOAM sponsored programme of Dept. of space.
Under ISRO-NASA AVIRIS programme, spatial variability mapping of essential nutrients in Chilika, Odisha is being done with the objectives of identification of most suitable bands for estimating soil fertility attributes, which will help to generate spatial variability map of essential nutrients. Another R &D work on assessment of soil fertility in Ribhoi district of Meghalaya using hyperspectral spectroscopy is in progress. Characterization of acid soils under different land cover patterns and its impact on crop growth with hyperspectral remote sensing is being explored under a collaborative project with ICAR-NEH Centre. This spectroscopy based non destructive techniques will help in discrimination, identification and monitoring acidity induced abiotic stresses on major crop performance in the hilly ecosystems of Northeast India
With the availability of information on soil and other parameters, site suitability analysis of various crops particularly horticultural crops is of great importance to the agriculturists of the region. Under Technology Mission of Horticulture Development in the Region, NESAC, under the guidance of SAC, Ahmedabad has carried out Site suitability analysis for Cashew nut in Meghalaya. With the observation that rich status of citrus productivity has been declining in NER, NESAC had undertaken studies on Citrus decline in the region. Identification of suitable areas for expansion of orange plantation in Pynursla block of East Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya has been carried out in collaboration with department of Horticulture, Govt. of Meghalaya.
Currently NESAC is executing the NER component of Coordinated Horticulture Assessment & Management using geoinformatics (CHAMAN) project funded by Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC), New Delhi. As part of the first phase of the project, site suitability analysis for one selected crop from each of the 8 NE states have been completed. Two-three additional horticultural crops are being covered in the second phase of the project
As one of the major subsidiary activities of Agriculture, Sericulture still has a tremendous scope for expansion particularly in non-traditional sericulture states and non-traditional districts in traditional sericulture states. NESAC has taken up a major national project titled Applications of remote sensing and GIS in Sericulture Development covering 178 districts (Phase I: 108, Phase II : 70) in 25 states in the country (61 districts in NER) for mapping of potential areas for sericulture development in two phases . The webportal called Sericulture Information Linkages and Knowledge System (SILKS) developed under the project is helping sericulturists and planners in the country. SILKS has been developed using Open source GIS as a single window decision support system to provide spatial and non-spatial information for selected districts in the country and hosted in the public domain at http://silks.csb.gov.in. SILKS portal currently host data services for more than 1000 sets of spatial layers consisting of potential areas for expansion of sericulture development in a single window access system. Additionally, each SILKS is supported by 16 non-spatial modules on sericulture planning, farmers advisory and other services specific to the district. The information system is made in such a way that it is easily accessible by the users through a single window interactive web application. To make it wider accessibility among local farmers and planners, the site is made multi-lingual comprising 12 major local languages of India
Mulberry acreage and leaf protein estimation of four district of West Bengal was carried out in collaboration with Central Sericultural Research and Training Institute (CSR&TI), Berhampore. Estimation of mulberry acreage in four districts of West Bengal were brought out at block level. Hyperspectral RS techniques were employed for estimation of leaf protein in conjunction with laboratory analysis. An MIS has been development as a decision making tool at farmers level and integrated with SILKS portal. NESAC in collaborating with Central Muga Eri Research & Training Institute (CMER&TI), Jorhat is working on development of decision support system for early warning of selected Muga silkworm diseases and pests with geospatial techniques
Crop condition assessment & disease and pest surveillance
Crop condition assessment is made diagnose any stress due to nutrient deficiency, drought, disease and pest infestation etc. Crop condition assessment is quantified through various indices, based on spectral or thermal data. Spectral vegetation indices are arithmetical combination of spectral reflectance in different bands (red, NIR etc.), which highlight the crop health. Crop condition assessment under abiotic stress of few selected major crops of NER has been carried out for generation of spectral signature at different stress conditions during crop growth stages. Monitoring of crop performance under water and nitrogen stress condition using spectroradiometer are also being done. Observations are also made for crop condition assessment under changing CO2 and temperature conditions
Geosurveillance of major crop pest and diseases in Nagaon district of Assam has been initiated on a pilot basis through development of mobile application for collection of pest and disease information. It is also planned to develop a model for detection of crop pest and diseases using machine learning techniques. Dashboard applications will be integrated with mobile app and UAV data to provide geosurveillance for rapid assessment and management by the decision makers.
Availability of information on agriculture to the users is very essential for development of agriculture. The concept of such information kiosk should be a ‘single window’ access to knowledge base in the field of agriculture sector to facilitate the agricultural reform processes. Such a system has designed as an information system, called Agro-climatic Planning and Information Bank (APIB). The system has been developed for East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya and currently available at www.megapib.nic.in. The APIB ‘Knowledge base’ can form an important part of the extension machinery of various departments involved in sustainable development
NESAC is engaging in development of Mobile App to support different user communities in the Agriculture sector. For the Agriculture Department of Arunachal Pradesh, a mobile App has been developed for collecting agricultural data and hosting of same in Bhuvan Web Portal and North Eastern Spatial Data Repository (NESDR). To train the state level, district level and field level officers of Agriculture and allied departments of North Eastern Region on geo-tagging of Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana (RKVY) Assets using Bhuvan-RKVY mobile app, NESAC is supporting NRSC, Hyderbad
UAV Remote sensing in Agriculture
Use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has added new dimensions and possibilities for very high resolution mapping and monitoring agriculture resources. A number of surveys have been carried out for crop area assessment, crop damage assessment and crop growth monitoring. Farmers from Morigaon and Nagaon districts of Assam got a major shock during the month of April, 2016, when they encountered severe pest infestation in their Boro paddy (summer paddy) areas, which was very unusual for them. Considering the severity of pest infestation and the spread, it was planned to conduct a rapid assessment of extent of crop damage through a UAV. The assessment report was provided to the concerned department to take immediate intervention measures. The survey also helped the District Agriculture Department to visualize and assess the extent of damage to provide compensation for the affected farmers. It has been realized that these information will provide valuable inputs to ‘Pradhanmantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ and KISAN (Crop Insurance using Space Technology and Geoinformatics) Programme which have emphasized on use of mobile and satellite technology including UAVs to facilitate accurate assessment and quick settlement of claims for insured crops
Another exercise was conducted for digital mapping of the individual households and farms in conjunction with socio-economic survey at household level in association with Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of Meghalaya as per NSSO guidelines. Socio-economic indicators on education, gender, poverty, housing, amenities, employment and agricultural farming have been evaluated for the village. Linking of each agricultural farms and crop lands to household information in GIS domain will form the basis for development of a Village Information System.