Small and marginal holding farmers can now get benefited from free precision farming advice based on remote sensing. ELAI AgriTech, a Bengaluru-based business, has begun providing free precision farming advice to farmers, including weather updates, when to irrigate the field, disease and insect management, and nutrient management, among other things.
Large farmers who grow high-value crops like pomegranates and grapes currently have access to precision farming consultancy, which is a fee-based service. This advice is based on data collected by sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices deployed on their farms.
Furthermore, because it is predominantly funded, a subset of farmers who are engaged in contract farming or are members of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) are given access to such precise guidance by their principals.
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ELAI has developed a technological stack that employs machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to create a farm and crop-specific advice based on satellite imagery and ground-level data supplied by farmers.
According to Aditya Chaturvedi, the Co-founder of ELAI Agritech, Farmers must download the ELAI app, enter their farm locations, and submit field-level data, including photos of the plant/farm, to receive precise advice.
Mr. Cheturvedi, further states that ‘We are conducting hyper-spectral photography, and we have constructed models utilizing artificial intelligence to sense the same things that IoT and sensor-based firms are doing right now. We are providing free precision farming advice to farmers despite the fact that we do not have a physical presence.’
ELAI has begun working with farmers in areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat, with intentions to extend into additional states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, among others. Currently, over 1,800 farmers are using ELAI’s crop advice, which is available in six languages, and he expects that one lakh farmers would use the app in the coming months.
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ELAI also provides live agronomist support, soil health analysis, plant and farm health, an early warning system for disease identification, pricing prediction, and warehouse location through the app.
ELAI has partnered with APMC, Mahua in Gujarat to provide its application to its 50,000+ members. Similarly, it intends to collaborate with organizations such as BAIF and Chaitanya Foundation, which deal with farmers, to broaden its reach, according to Manish Nair, Co-founder, ELAI.
Nair went on to say that ELAI is currently using images supplied by NASA’s sentinel satellite every five days. ‘Once we scale up, we hope to have our own low-earth-orbit satellite that can generate photographs on a daily basis,’ Nair added.
ELAI is in the early stages of acquiring $1 million to build up its operations after being bootstrapped with an initial investment of ₹ 3.5 crores from strategic investors Anand Nagarajan and Jital Shah. While ELAI will provide free advice to farmers, it hopes to make revenue from B2B customers such as corporations, financial institutions, and government agencies, among others, according to Chaturvedi.
Priority should be given to small and medium-sized farms
Jital Shah, a strategic investor who is also mentoring the ELAI team, stated that the start-focus up’s is on small and medium farmers, believing that providing them with the correct information at the right time will help them boost productivity.
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Although AgriTech offers basic advising services for free, it intends to charge for premium services like farm visits by its agronomists, among other things, Shah mentioned. He further added that ELAI is also supplying farm equipment as part of farm automation services for controlled irrigation and fertigation, as well as intrusion detection systems, which will be charged.
ELAI has established 50 model farms on which its technologies are placed, as well as designated 200 farmers who use the app as Champion Farmers to assist the company in expanding its reach.
‘Previously, we had to go to the nearest Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) to seek pest and disease advice. Now I just need to take a picture of the plant/farm and upload it to get the advisory,’ explained Sachin Thorat, a cotton and sugarcane farmer in Shrirampur, Maharashtra. Thorat estimates that 150-200 farmers in his neighborhood have downloaded the ELAI app since he began using it three months ago.