Space data fuels India's farming innovation drive


Lokeswara Reddy, an Indian farmer with two decades of experience, has seen his crops flourish after lean years, thanks to earth-observation satellites.

Shifting climate patterns, high input costs, a scarcity of labour and erratic weather began to disrupt his earnings about 10 years ago, said Reddy, 52, currently a contract farmer with global giant Syngenta.

Satellite data, gathered and crunched by Indian startup Cropin and provided to him by Syngenta, now gives him optimal sowing times, weather warnings, and better use of irrigation and pesticides, he said.

Reddy said that over the last decade he has increased his net profit to 20,000 rupees (US$240) per acre on corn at his farm in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, up from 5,000 - 10,000 rupees.

"We are on a surer footing when it comes to agricultural practices; (using satellite data) safeguards us from climate change, pest and disease, problems with irrigation scheduling," he said.

The Indian government, which just relaxed foreign investment rules for the space sector, is leaning heavily into the use of satellite data to solve problems on the ground, with agriculture a key focus.

Read more here.


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