Optical Sensing of Soil Nutrients for ‘Smart Farming’

Photo: Prasad
Customarily obtaining localised in-situ measurements of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium still remain an open challenge especially in the far-flung areas of Sikkim.

Abstract: Over the years, chemical fertilisers have been applied to soil in order to increase their fertility. However over or under application of fertilisers can damage the crop yield and also cause serious ecological concerns. Soil testing thus acquires an important place in farming, specifically in site specific crop management. Non-destructive in-situ measurements of soil nutrients with cost effective optical sensing methods can help in determining and monitoring the nutrient levels in the soil.

The Authors are Senior Assistant Professor and Professor respectively, Assam Don Bosco University, Guwahati. shakuntala.lashkar@dbuniversity.ac.in

Term Power

What is ...

Relay cropping is growing one crop and then planting another in the same field after maturation or before harvesting the first. Whereas growing two or more crops in the same field at the same time is known as inter cropping and growing two crops in the same field, one after the other in the same year is called sequential cropping.

Precision farming aims at increasing productivity, decreasing production costs and minimising the environmental impact of farming by utilising information and technology based management system. The information on soil and crop characteristics unique to each part of the field is acquired by use of technology including telecommunications, global positioning systems (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS), variable rate controllers, and infield and remote sensing and used to increase the production.

Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without use of soil. Instead of using soil, plants are grown in a sufficiently nutrient-rich water solution.

It is the process of genetically modifying plants and animals so that they produce substances which may be used as pharmaceuticals. It is also known as molecular farming or biopharming.

The term denotes a method which relies mainly on visual interpretation of the plant cover to detect morphological changes or plant associations typical of certain types of geological environments or of ore deposits.

The Gini coefficient is a statistical measure used for assessing variations in a given set of values. It has been primarily used by economists to analyse income inequality.

Haulm is the stem or top of crop plants such as peas or potatoes left after the crop has been gathered. This world has originated from old English.

Mutagenesis is the process of change in genetic information of an organism due to exposure to mutagens leading to mutation. It may occur naturally or can be done in laboratories. Whereas genetic modification is the process to change the genetic makeup of cells in laboratories that includes transfer of genes within and across species to produce organisms with desired traits.

Atomic gardening is a form of mutation breeding where plants are exposed to radioactive sources, typically cobalt-60 in order to generate useful mutations.

An artesian aquifer is a confined aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure. This causes the water level in a well to rise to a point where hydrostatic equilibrium has been reached.