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Geo-informatics in Agricultural Research and Development: An IASRI Perspective

ABSTRACT Geo-informatics is integrated technology for collection, transformation and generation of information from integrated spatial and non-spatial data bases. Remote sensing, Geographical Information Sciences (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Relational Data Base Management Systems (RDBMS) are some of its important ingredients. It is a powerful tool for assessment, monitoring, planning and management of agricultural research and development. Management of agricultural resources is a myriad activity of conservation practices and land/water resources aimed at increasing the food production. Substantial increase in crop production could be achieved by bringing additional land under cultivation, improved crop management technology through use of high yielding, input responsive and stress tolerant crop varieties, improved pest control as well as by increasing irrigation and fertilizer inputs. These inputs together with reliable information on i) existing land use and acreage under various crops, ii) soil types and extent of problem soils, iii) monitoring of surface water bodies (to determine water availability in irrigation systems) for ground water development and (iv) management of natural calamities etc. will enable formulation of appropriate strategies to sustain the pace of agricultural development. This in turn calls for a holistic approach, which must combine short-term management of agricultural resources at micro-level with long term global perspectives, keeping in view of socio-economic and cultural environment of the people. The role of space geo-informatics in finding new resources for agriculture development for optimally managing the already available resources in order to maximize agriculture production is recognized world wide and is found to be highly potential. Agricultural remote sensing involving crops and soils are quite complex. These complexities are due to dynamic nature and inherent complexity of biological materials. In order to handle these complex problems, remote sensing technology offers numerous advantages over traditional methods of conducting agricultural and other resource surveys. Advantages include, the potential for accelerated surveys, capability to achieve a synoptic view under relatively uniform lighting conditions, availability of multi- spectral data for providing intense information, capability of repetitive coverage to depict seasonal and long-term changes and availability of imagery with minimum distortion etc. Therefore, it permits direct measurement of important agro-physical parameters. Remote sensing of earth resources utilizes electromagnetic waves, which ranges from short wave length ultra violet through visible near infrared and thermal infrared in the longer wave length, active radar and passive microwave systems. A great advancement in applications of computers to this science is the development of capability of storing vast and varied information, ranging from historical information and aerial photography to spacecraft data, ground reference, and other forms of ancillary data. All these information is stored in the form of highly useful database/information system. Thus remotely sensed data and its derived information have become an integral component of agricultural management system in the country. Applications of space borne remote sensing data for large area crop survey was explored in USA under Corn Blight Watch Experiment (CBWE) in 1971 which was followed by large number of

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May 22, 2014