Microsoft said ICRISAT’s Intelligent Cloud pilot for agriculture in Andhra Pradesh increased crop yield by 30 percent for 175 smallholder farmers.
The pilot was launched in June 2016 to test a new Sowing Application for farmers in Andhra Pradesh combined with a Personalized Village Advisory Dashboard.
Farmers who sowed in the first week of June got meagre yields due to dry spell in August. Farmers who sowed in the last week of June and the first week of July and followed advisories got better yields and are out of loss.
Farmers can achieve optimal harvests by receiving advice on the best time to sow depending on weather conditions, soil and other indicators. Devanakonda Mandal in Kurnool district implemented the pilot and used the advisory to the groundnut crop.
ICRISAT adopted Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite including Machine Learning and Business Intelligence to empower farmers and government officials with technology, and promote digital farming practices in the state.
The Personalized Village Advisory Dashboard enables officials of APPSM to manage programs of scale. Using BI tools, this dashboard provides insights around soil health, fertilizer recommendations, and seven-day weather forecasts derived from the world’s best available weather observations systems and global forecast models.
Farmers received 10 sowing advisories starting June 10 via SMS in Telugu comprising information such as sowing recommendation, seed treatment, optimum sowing depth, preventive weed management, land preparation, farm yard manure application, recommendation on harvesting, shade drying of harvested pods, and storage etc.
“This result is proof of the efficiencies that cloud technology can bring and thereby help farmers economically by improving agricultural productivity. The applicability of the Intelligent cloud is a significant start for digital agriculture and we hope more governments and stakeholders come forward to reap benefits of this innovation,” said Anil Bhansali, managing director, Microsoft India (R&D).
The Sowing Application utilized artificial intelligence to interface with weather forecasting models provided by USA based aWhere Inc. and data including rainfall over the last 45 years as well as 10 years of groundnut sowing progress data for Kurnool district. This data was then downscaled to build predictability and guide farmers to pick the ideal sowing week.
“Registered farmers did the sowing in the last week of June and managed the crop as per the weather-based advisories provided by ICRISAT and Microsoft throughout the crop-growing period,” said C Madhusudhana, president, Chaitanya Youth Association and Watershed Community Association of Devanakonda.
G Chinnavenkateswarlu, a farmer from Bairavanikunta village, has three acres of land and sowed groundnut on June 25, 2016, based on the sowing recommendations provided by ICRISAT.
“My crops were harvested on October 28, 2016 and the yield was about 1.35 tonne per hectare. Advisories provided for land preparation, sowing, and need-based plant protection proved to be very useful to me.”
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Microsoft to enhance incomes and improve the lives of small holder farmers, and give a boost to our digital agriculture initiative in a big way,” said David Bergvinson, director general of ICRISAT.