Geospatial Awareness Hub interacted with Pradeep Bisen, Senior Vice President (Research and Development) and Abhishek Singh Sengar, Geospatial Software Engineer at SatSure, a reputed area analytics company drawing insights from Big Data.
Here’s the insight of the interview, throwing light on the significance of geospatial Big Data in improving agriculture sector and smart infrastructure in India.
1. What is SatSure’s definition of smart farming?
We at SatSure have a similar definition of smart farming which the industry follows. It is the application of technology to meet the precise requirements of soil and crop through inputs.
It can incorporate a set of technologies like IoT sensors, input automation, drones, and satellites, to name a few.
Being a data analytics-driven technology company, SatSure plays with data. So for us, in precision farming, the vendors and technologies used to depend on the client. They are free to choose these technologies, while our forte lies in providing the needed predictive, prescriptive, and diagnostic signals using all the available datasets.
In short, our platform is sensor agnostic!
2. How do you see the supply and demand ratio of geospatial solutions towards the agricultural sector in India?
As per a Mordor Intelligence study in 2018, the global geospatial analytics market was valued at USD 21.00 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach a value of USD 31.39 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 7.2%, over the forecast period (2020 – 2025).
The geospatial industry has evolved. The sector started from simple GIS mapping and soon added multi-data analytics; the overall industry has grown.
Until a decade ago in India, the geospatial solutions were only provided by central and state agencies with a handful of private sector players. The increase in the number of global satellite manufacturers and launches led to the rise in available datasets. Thus, to an extent, the commercialisation of satellite data became truly possible in the last ten years.
The NewSpace revolution has been accompanied by growth in advanced technology like AI, ML, Big Data and Cloud Computing.
Thus, the overall market today stands where there are diverse sets of applications available. For instance, SatSure delivers geospatial products and solutions today:
- To help banks and MFIs with loan lifecycle management in agriculture and infrastructure
- Insurance lifecycle management for agriculture and property insurance
- Products and services for oil and gas, energy and sustainability projects in agriculture and climate change etc. to name a few
So we can say the demand undoubtedly has increased and the adoption of the technology has gone beyond its traditional users. However, what is lacking in India is that the existing players are not innovating much on the solution delivery, and this is what SatSure focuses on.
3. Being head of the Agri and remote sensing department at SatSure, how do you see the future of drones in smart farming?
Drones help provide granular data, and that is perhaps the strongest point of drone application. It shall help in farm level, a high-resolution analysis which can be potentially also used for crop grade and species monitoring.
There are, however, a few constraints on the applications of drones in India, which organisations should consider:
- It does not provide access to historical datasets
- It requires a skilled pilot which is an additional human resource cost
- The frequency and duration of the flight is limited
- Lack of universal standardisation in the indexes generated using drones
Thus, the real application of drones has to be in combination with satellite imagery. Here satellite imagery backed analysis can help identify locations where the drones should be used, leading to a more proactive approach.
Drones are incredibly effective in developed countries where the landholding sizes is as large as 10-15 times that of India, ranging from 10 Ha to 20 Ha. Additionally, the homogeneity of the crops in developed countries allows drones to be highly effective, leading to a cost vs benefit balance.
In India, with small landholdings, crop heterogeneity and high operational costs of drones, they have to be used in a much targeted approach to reducing expenditure.
That said, drones help provide the granularity which satellites can fail to offer in many cases.
4. People with the combinations of Geospatial Technology and Data Science are hard to find, do you agree with it? If so, let me know your views on how we can improve it?
The geospatial industry today, as mentioned earlier, has spread its wings across diverse sectors. Today, the industry demands three important sets of people: GIS experts, data science and statistics experts, and subject matter experts. This means that it is especially essential for organisations to find their niche and focus on developing the required interdisciplinary knowledge within these diverse stakeholders.
SatSure had already developed its capacity and trained its personnel for utilising Geospatial technology and Big Data analytics in the field of agriculture, infrastructure, and Disaster management. Innovation and cutting-edge research and development (R&D) in the field of geospatial data, geospatial science, and analytics continue to yield new ways to incorporate geospatial data into new areas and offer solutions to today’s most challenging problems.
5. Can you throw some light on challenges being faced by the Agri-tech Industry and how we can overcome those using Geospatial Technology?
The major challenge in AgTech in India is slow innovation. Innovation has always been a part of agriculture but is mostly restricted to larger organisations.
AgTech companies, especially start-ups, find it challenging to innovate since the market is a slow-growth market with low margins.
Another challenge like mentioned above is of lower margins. It is difficult and inappropriate to burden the farmer with the cost of services and products.
Thus, a collaborative approach needs to be taken here, where different stakeholders collaborate to add value to the agricultural value chain. This shall help with two things – one being distribution of risk (which is always an underlying factor in agriculture); and second being distribution of costs, which is possible if organisations collaborate.
SatSure is planning to launch an open innovation platform, SatSure SPARTA soon for the agriculture and AgTech ecosystem to allow collaboration to develop innovation for diverse stakeholders. You can follow us on our social media handles or write to us at [email protected] to know more about it.
6. What do you feel about the geospatial Awareness Hub movement? And how experts like you can help us in spreading the geospatial awareness?
We in India need a platform where new geospatial technologies, solutions and ideas can be spread. Geospatial Awareness Hub (GAH) movement is surely facilitating this for the community.
We strongly believe experts across the industry should contribute to the movement. Moving forward, the directions and new features GAH brings to the table will be exciting to note.