Ag Tech News

Watson cognitive technology to help farm sector in India

IBM's India research lab using its Watson cognitive technology to help farmers determine potential crop yields and protect against pests.

The technology — part of a solution called Precision Agriculture — involves the use of a few strategically placed sensors and remote sensing data from satellites to collect data about the state of the soil, moisture content, weather data and susceptibility to pests.

Director of India Research Labs, Sriram Raghavan said, "Blanketing a farm with sensors is extremely expensive and hard to manage. But data from a small amount of local sensors and data from satellites can be married using cognitive technologies — a process called cognitive fusion. We can answer those questions in a cost-effective way."

Cost is of great importance in a country like India, where farms are small and organised farming of large plots of land is still rare. IBM is looking at large agri-businesses and financial institutions as its potential market.

Raghavan said, "We have seen a lot of issues with agri insurance and credit. And while there are definitely non-technology issues to be solved, but there is an opportunity for technology to help provide better visibility to financial institutions."

The company is also using its cognitive technology to help farmers identify pest infestation earlier and in working out supply chains and grain storage.

With the technology, the financial products they issue in the agri space do not have to be driven just by the credit history of a farmer, which may not be a viable model, but can be driven by knowledge of the farm and focus on health on the farm. This will increase risk awareness.

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