Robo Kisan to save crops from disease

It can detect diseases in crops well in advance and in turn help save crops from getting destroyed


Shivani Chaturvedi | July 7, 2010

Anshuka with her robo kisan
Anshuka with her robo kisan

Technology is now coming to the aid of the Indian farmer. Anshuka Shrivastava, an Allahabad-based scientist, has now developed a robot that will not only diagnose pest infestation in the crop but will also help in prophylactic treatment.

Robo Kisan, recognised by the International Association of Engineers and Computer Scientists, is programmed to detect plant diseases at an early stage, much before an entire plant is lost to the disease.

This robot is a modified version of the prototype Robo Kisan which was invented and presented by Srivastava at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) during Technology Entrepreneur Promotion programme in August 2008.

The Robo Kisan is equipped with various sensors. It collects data and processes the same for disease detection. This machine will help farmers to know about the disease at the time when it is emerging. What they have to do is just to remove the infected twig or any other part that is infected so that disease cannot spread in the entire plant - - thus ensuring natural control of pests and avoiding chemicals.

If a farmer wants to check whether the crop is infected with disease or not he just has to take the robot into the field and move it on the particular path just once. This will help the robot feed the information about that particular path in its memory. The sensors in the robot work as machine’s eye and the software is the brain of the machine. The sensor takes data on the basis of light in the machine’s surrounding. This data is transferred in the form of video clips and these clips get converted into still pictures. The still pictures reach the software alongwith illumination data. The data with the video clip is examined by software for detecting disease. There is also a timer in the machine for seeing the time of data collection. There is a control board which controls motion of the machine. Entire data collection system is controlled by this board. For one processing that is detection of disease on one leaf, the robot takes just 38 seconds. The robot running on two batteries of 4 watt/hour each (capacity of working for four to five hours) requires human presence only at the time of charging the battery.

It is not necessary that the robot is taken into the field. The farmer can just take snap of that particular part of the crop which he is suspecting to be infected and can send the photograph to Srivastava online. The photo will be scanned and results will be indicated to the farmer.

Srivastava who is working as associate professor at Allahabad Agriculture Institute-deemed university is confident that she will be able to induce farmers to go for this state-of-the-art technology and save their crops. Because of the nature of her job she is in constant touch with farmers and villagers. “Villagers come to our institute to take combined harvesters and tractors. They have understood the significance of machine in agriculture. It won’t be a difficult task to create awareness among them regarding this robot,” Srivastava told Governance Now.

Robot will be provided at block level. Localities will be trained for operating the robot. The block development officers are not being involved in handling the machine because participation of local people will help in developing a sense of responsibility among them. Farmers will have to pay minimal price as a service charge for the facility. Negotiations are on with the government and other companies, said Srivastava. Presently, the robot developed by Srivastava has sensor to detect disease in grapes that is downymildew. Her research work is on to develop sensors that can detect disease in tomato that is blight and in sugarcane that is red rot.

She has done her research from Ibaraki University, Hitachi, Japan. It took about 10 years for Srivastava to give shape to the entire machine including developing sensors and creating framework. For developing the entire robot she had spent more than Rs 1 lakh.

Working in the laboratory which she has set at her home Srivastava shares the moment that actually motivated her to come up with the concept of Robot Kisan. “Once a farmer from Haryana said to me that ‘can’t there be a system where someone at my place can go in the fields and detect whether there is disease in the crop and also spray pesticides for crop protection. And I don’t have to take much pain for it’. The very moment I thought of going for robotics and it became my dream project to fulfill such wish of thousands of farmers”.  This is how the concept of Robo Kisan came into shape. 




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