Locust Attack – A new threat to Indian Food Economy

Locust belongs to order Orthoptera which completes its life cycle in three distinct stages namely Egg, Nymph and Adult and are capable to travel 150 km in day depending upon on wind speed. Locust swarms devastates crops and cause major agricultural damages, which can lead to starvations and even famines.

Not only they devours leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, growing points, they sometime eat barks. A swarms covering 1-1.5 square km consists of 4-8 crore locusts, while the swarm currently observed in Rajasthan was as big as 2-2.5 square km. One can easily imagine the severity of this particular invasion in India. According to FAO, the swarm can eat food of 35000 people in a single day. It is estimated that desert locust consumes the equivalent of three body weight (2 gm) each day of green vegetation. They are polyphagous and feed on leaves, shoots, flowers, fruits, seeds almost every plant part. Locust eats nearly all crops and non crop plants and weeds also.

By Charles J Sharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0,


The swarm has originated from Africa and has move from Uganda, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and through Pakistan before entering India through the Gujarat border.

Environmental Factors Responsible For Outbreak In India


Due to abnormal weather conditions activities specially caused by the two cyclones enabled unprecedented breeding and growth of locust population in Arabian Peninsula early last year. Wind pattern have been pushing the swarms in southwest direction. Strong wind speed of 20-25 km per hour is helpful to migrate from one place to another.


The hot summer has also favored the locust swarm outbreak in India (Temperature about 35°C) and is most favourable for breeding of locust


Strong wind along with rainfall are most helpful to locust population for travelling thousands of miles. Due to rainfall abundant amount of green foliage is available to locust swarms.


Relative Humidity (RH) plays a key role on the life cycle of locust. RH above 85% always favours growth of adult locust.


Locust are always light loving insects and continuous presence of light up to 8-10 hours in summer month has favoured locust invasion in India.

Impact in India

The current locust invasion is the worst in India since 1993. It has already attacked the crops in Rajasthan on large scale. It has already wipe out crops over 500000 ha area in Rajasthan. In Gujarat the attack may spread to 12 Districts. The condition is even worst in Madhya Pradesh as the infestation is spread over 16 districts. In Uttar Pradesh the infestation will hit in at least 17 districts. And eastern part of Maharashtra likely to hit with the infestation. As per FAO reports, the infestation is likely to get severe by next month.


Management/Preventive Measure

Cultural control

  • Cultivating the soil where eggs were laid by exposing. They dry out and eaten by birds.

Mechanical Control

  • Killing the hoppers with flame throwers and crushing them with rollers.

Chemical Control

  • Spraying the crop with Lambda-Cyhalothrin 5% EC 400 ml in 600 litre water. Or
  • Spray of Diflubenzuron 120 ml in 600 ml water.
  • Use of Poison bait- Prepare poison baits by mixing Fipronil 5% EC in wheat or Bajra flour and place the baits in affected field 30 kg/ha.
  • Dusting the crop with Methyl parathion 2% dust @ 25-30 kg/ha.


Constant Monitoring and Predictive Analytics

  • Constant monitoring and surveillance will not help with prevention but will help predict a possible infestation


Agsmartic has developed an autonomous plant pest detection system, which uses Computer Vision, to detect early pest infestation. Our studies have showed that a system like if deployed as a grid can help understand the movement of such pest very early.


HIC 2019 – IIT Mandi

HIC 2019Agsmartic Technologies was selected as one of the top three agri-tech company in the Himalayan Innovation Challenge 2019 where out of 120 applications, only 30 start-ups were selected for pitching session. Himalayan innovation challenge (HIC) is an initiative of IIT Mandi Catalyst to motivate a series of innovative technology-based solutions designed specifically to solve social and economic problems in the Himalayan regions of the world. Among the 30 selected start-ups, Agsmartic was also selected in the top 15 start-ups qualified for an Exploration Programme with IIT Mandi.

Arise 2019 – Launchpad for Agri Startups

Agsmartic is selected under ARISE 2019 Incubation Programme at Indian Agricultural Research Institution (IARI), New Delhi. Out of 400+ applications, IARI selected 24 startups with focus in Precision Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Processing, etc.

IARI is India's premier national Institute for research, education and extension in the field of agricultural.

This is an exclusively designed incubation program precisely for early-stage agri-startups to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of agribusiness and allied sectors. The Incubation program has two-phase:

Phase 1: Idea to Product Prototype (Early-stage product development)

Phase 2: Product Prototype to its Commercial Launch & Funding Support



Pilot with Impagro Solutions

Agsmartic, in collaboration with Impagro Farming Solutions, has started a pilot in Khamariya Nimawar, Sultanpur, at Madhya Pradesh. The pilot was started in April 2019 and is being conducted for a period of 12 months.

During this period, Agsmartic will implement the Autonomous Irrigation System and Health Analyzer to understand the efficacy of the overall Croplytics® ecosystem. The pilot covers an area of 5 acres, and 7 crops which includes Tomatoes, Chilies, Musk Melon, Bottle Gourd, Watermelon, Sponge Gourd and Egg Plant.

Multiple Croplytics® Sensors and Valves are installed in the field. Sensors capture soil moisture and temperature of the soil while the Smart Valves control the drip irrigation that was previously installed on the field.

The Croplytics® App allows the farmer to monitor the soil status and environmental condition and helps in controlling the irrigation.

Crop Stress
Crop Stress

Following KPIs are monitored:

  • Hours of Irrigation
  • Average Soil Moisture/day
  • Crop Stress
  • Water Stress
  • Water and Energy Saving
  • Yield improvement

More Crops Per Drop

More Crops per Drop

A national mission to ensure farm productivity and economic utilization of natural resources for a sustainable agriculture was undertaken by our honorable Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi on July 1st, 2015 under the scheme of “Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana”. The primary mottos of his initiative are “Har Khet Ko Paani” i.e. extension of irrigation facilities to every Indian farmland and “More Crops per Drop” i.e. sustainable productivity with increased efficiency of water. Government has budgeted Rs. 50,000 Crore for the period 2015-16 to 2019-20 towards PMKSY. The Government plans to execute various events under this scheme such as;

  1. Increased investment in agricultural irrigation.
  2. Develop cultivable area under irrigation.
  3. Improve economic usage of water to reduce wastage on farms.
  4. Adoption of precision irrigation, smart irrigation and other technologies for saving water (more crop per drop).
  5. Develop practice of sustainable water conservation.

It can be remarked that this scheme aims to attract investment in irrigation facilities and development of smart irrigation and other technologies related to precision agriculture.

Agsmartic has developed its own solution known as “Croplytics” for smart irrigation and it is in accordance to the Government’s PMKSY objectives. This enables time to time irrigation of farm lands automatically by monitoring the soil and crop, and analyzing the data to retrieve meaningful information which can be used by the farmers with the help of a mobile device. Agsmartic promotes an easy to use, pocket friendly and fully automatic water solution for agriculture which requires no human intervention.

The concept of smart irrigation

Every plant needs water, be it a green golf course, a tiny bonsai tree or a waving fields of grains. Farmers have to irrigate their lands no matter what. In order to make optimum use of our limited freshwater resources, smart irrigation is the smartest solution. To be precise, smart irrigation is the process of incorporating networked sensors capable of being centrally monitored and enabling farmers to optimize water usage with the help of smart phones.

The secret to smart irrigation is nothing but smart controllers. These controllers can use weather and site data to determine exactly when and how long to water.

Smart irrigation system is designed to increase efficacy of water and reduce its wastage at a reasonable cost. In addition to controllers, smart irrigation technology also includes sensors that monitors moisture level in the soil and delivers water accordingly and sprinklers that helps in maximizing penetration of water and minimizing runoffs.

Thus adoption and implementation of smart irrigation technologies save water, money, time and add convenience. Also they adapt to seasonal weather changes without any need of reprogramming. Therefore it is quite evident that these innovations have high potential to address the PMKSY objective of “more crops per drop” as essentially smart irrigation will ultimately lead to increased productivity of crop yield.

Reasons to adopt smart irrigation

India is a beautiful tropical country which has been bestowed with various rich natural resources and wide range of weather conditions across a vast geographic scale and varied topography. It is surrounded by Himalayan Mountains in the north and vast sea and ocean in the south and hence generalization of the climatic nature of our country is not possible.  As such, it is quite difficult to understand why India is still facing crucial problems related to water. Even though, India had vast water resources in the past yet the reasons for it’s depletion can be linked to myriad of causes over the years. Just to name a few are lack of regulations and policies, overpopulation, increasing demands, unsystematic irrigation in farms, etc.

All these reasons have collectively lead to a critical condition in India, where water is not only vanishing from the surface but also from below the surface.

One could only imagine the consequence, if the vast natural water resource gets exhausted before the human race is able to discover newer and artificial substitute!

There’s no denying the fact that the economy of India is profoundly dependent on agriculture. As such, India’s agriculture survives predominantly on ground water resource. Agriculture is consuming almost 90% of the freshwater withdrawals. India is one of the most water challenged countries in the world. It has about 16% of the world’s population but unfortunately has only 4% access to the world’s water resources.

Adoption of smart irrigation in agriculture can resolve a number of issues related to not only conserving water but also increasing productivity per farmlands. In simpler words, smart irrigation is basically tailoring water schedules and run times in farms on the basis of monitoring and analyzing data such as weather, soil conditions, evaporation and plant water use etc.

According to experts, smart irrigation systems and controllers conserve both water and money across a variety of scenarios. There are various controlled research studies available that indicate substantial water savings anywhere from 40% to as high as 70%.

The net cultivated area of India is about 140 million hectares. Of this, only 45 % of area is under irrigation. Presently, only 9 million hectares of land is under micro irrigation out of which 4 million hectares of land is under drip irrigation. This shows the long journey India is yet to cover for a smarter agriculture.

Smart irrigation helps farmers in various other ways too. Economically speaking, implementation of smart irrigation will eventually lead to a safe, time efficient, energy efficient system of agriculture where the need of direct human resource will be minimum.  With limited need to spend time in farm fields, farmers can now invest in their personal development, learning and acquiring new skills, involving in village activities, etc. and taking care of their family and leading a happy life.

It is safe to conclude that India will see much wider adoption of smart irrigation technologies in every farm lands in about a decade. Every farmer will be equipped with an automated intelligent system that can be operated with a mobile device. However such mass adoption and changes cannot be achieved solely with lip service.

However, daunting the goal is, it is still achievable and attainable. There is still time to reverse the crisis and given the right commitment and dedication, India, with the help of smart irrigation, will soon have safer water and a sustainable agriculture.

Impact of water on crop yield

Impact of Water on Crop Yield


Flood and Drought: Impact of Water

Crop yield and water are inextricably linked. Water impacts crop yield to a very large extent and is considered to be the most critical agricultural input in India. Excess water and water scarcity, both highly impacts the quantity and quality of yield.

India has experienced 26 large scale droughts and 19 floods during the period of 1871-2009. The frequency and magnitude of both droughts and floods are constantly increasing. The drought of Maharashtra in 2013 is one of the worst of its kind to have hit the state in the last 40 years. The primary reason was low rainfall during June to September of the previous year. Changes in water resource are posing a great threat to crop yield and food security in India.

Recently in June 2018, there was a major setback in sowing of major crops due to a 15-day hiatus in the progress of the southwest monsoon over central and north India. The sowing of crops stood at 16.5 million hectares at the end of June which is 15% less than the average of the last 7 years as per data from the department of agriculture (Central Ministry of Agriculture). Likewise, there have been two such instances in the last decade when sowing in June was better with lesser rainfall.

Graphical Representation of Rainfall in between 1870-2010
Graphical Representation of Rainfall in between 1870-2010

Moreover, India is known to be one of the world’s largest food producers and hence the sustainability of its agricultural system is of global significance. Indian farmers are predominantly dependent on groundwater for irrigation. Groundwater, being the backbone of India’s agriculture, is at present producing enough crops to feed only 170 million people. But the over exploitation of this resource has brought about drastic declines in groundwater levels and forcing millions of small-scale farmers to get out of reach of this vital resource. This in turn has led to decreased agricultural production and increased poverty.

Why is water important for proper growth of crops?

Water is the most important factor for proper and healthy production of crops. Plants require huge quantities of water continuously during their life. It deeply impacts photosynthesis, respiration, absorption, translocation and utilization of mineral nutrients, cell division and many other vital processes. It also affects evapotranspiration which is a joint process of evaporation of water from the earth surface and plant surfaces and transpiration of water through the plant stems and tissues.


If the agricultural field has too much water, the roots can rot, and the crops won’t get enough oxygen from the soil. If there is scarcity of water, the vital nutrients it needs cannot travel through the plant. Hence the scarcity and surplus of water on fields can equally affect the overall growth and development of crops directly and, as a result, also its yield and quality.

Solutions we offer

India has a notoriously unpredictable rainfall, cycle which causes floods and droughts alternately. Hence, in order to raise the crops successfully it becomes imperative to inculcate the practice of supplying artificial water supply through irrigation on occasions of drought, and removal of excess water through drainage on occasions of extreme flood. Water management in India, hence, is a situation-oriented entity, depending significantly on environmental conditions, such as, soil, crops and climate etc.

It is quite understandable why water is a costly input when canals supply it. The construction of dams and reservoirs, the transmission of water from storage points to the fields, the functioning and maintaining of canal systems, all require a huge expense and manpower. Even after supplying water to the fields its misuse can lead to water logging, salt imbalance, etc., thus making the agricultural lands infertile and unproductive. Hence there is an urgent need of hour to try to appreciate the relationship between the quantity of water required in the agricultural land and the amount of water available in the natural resource and also to understand the economic utilization of water resources for maximum crop production.

Croplytics, our cutting-edge technology solution, which will provide smart irrigation solution in agriculture using remote Internet-of-Things (IoT) Sensors. This will enable the crops to receive an optimum quantity of water automatically with the help of smart irrigation and thereby eliminating any chances of crop loss due to excess or scarcity of water in the fields.