Day by day, our world's population is continuing to grow without showing any signs of slowing down. According to the United Nations, the world's population is predicted to reach 9.7 billion by the year 2050. With the growth of the world's population, the demand for food has multiplied as well. To satisfy the growing demand, traditional agriculture alone is not enough.
Precision farming or information-based management of agricultural production systems, is a new and innovative farming practice that uses a variety of scientific techniques and advanced tools to increase yield, improve soil quality, reduce labour costs, boost productivity and ensure food security. It accesses real-time data about crop conditions, soil and water quality along with other critical information such as weather predictions, labour costs, equipment availability and uses it to resolve pressing economical and environmental issues. Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are an important part of precision agriculture as they regulate the growth of the crop and help maximise harvest.
Plant growth regulators (PGRs)
Plant growth regulators, often known as "plant hormones", are chemical substances that can promote, inhibit, or modify the growth of plants when applied in small concentrations. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), the systematic use of plant growth regulators in agriculture started in the 1930s. Since then, they have tremendously benefited farmers by increasing plant growth and productivity, improving crop quality, and providing a more sustainable alternative to crop management.
Types of Plant growth regulators
Based on the results of their actions, PGRs are broadly classified into two groups. Plant growth promoters and plant growth inhibitors. The first group includes auxins, gibberellins, and cytokinins, while the second group contains abscisic acid and ethylene.
Auxin is a major regulator of cell growth, elongation of the plant, formation of roots, and fruit and flower development.
Gibberellins are capable of breaking seed dormancy, postponing senescence, promoting bolting, triggering stem elongation, and causing early seed production.
Cytokinins promote cell division in the plant root and shoot system and delay the senescence of leaves.
Abscisic acid inhibits plant growth and maximises its chances of surviving drought. It also signals the stomata to close, retain water, and inhibit seed germination.
Ethylene is considered to be a multifunctional plant growth hormone because it regulates both growth and senescence in plants. It is also used to rapidly ripen fruits.
Role of PGRs in Precision Agriculture
Precision agriculture can considerably benefit from the use of plant growth regulators in crop production. Let's explore the advantages.
Increase plant growth and yield
PGRs trigger the growth of plants by increasing metabolic enzyme activities and the uptake of nutrients by roots. They also enhance photosynthesis to achieve robust growth. Farmers can use PGRs to improve the quality and quantity of crops.
Enhance fruit quality
PGRs can greatly enhance the size, colour, taste, and quality of fruit. While abscisic acid can improve the fruit's colour and flavour, gibberellins can increase its size. Farmers can use plant growth regulators to produce fruits that are not only larger and more enticing to consumers but also taste better.
Provide a sustainable agricultural alternative
Plant growth regulators (PGRs) reduce the need for synthetic agrochemicals, fertilisers, pesticides, and water, allowing farmers to implement sustainable agricultural practices like precision farming. It also enables crops to grow effectively with less irrigation.
Reduce the impact of environmental stress
Plant growth inhibitors such as abscisic acid can help plants survive drought by closing the stomata and retaining water. By utilising PGRs, farmers can produce drought-resistant crops and lessen the risk of crop failure.
Maximise shelf life and post-harvest quality
PGRs like ethylene are capable of regulating the ripening process. With the help of PGRs, farmers can delay or speed up the ripening process, allowing them to harvest crops at the perfect time and increase their shelf life.
Disadvantages of PGRs
PGRs have some disadvantages despite being essential to the adoption of progressive and sustainable farming practices. PGR residues have the potential to pollute the environment and cause food poisoning. To increase agricultural productivity and lessen its negative effects on the environment and human health, the use of plant growth regulators in agricultural production should be routinely monitored and regulated.
Future of PGRs in Precision Agriculture
Plant growth regulators (PGRs) have been used to influence plant growth and development in agriculture for many years. PGRs are receiving more and more attention in precision agriculture, which aims at increasing crop yields and lowering input costs through targeted and accurate input application. PGRs are integral to the widespread adoption of precision agriculture.
The main goal of recent PGR technology research and development is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of PGR applications. Researchers are currently working towards creating innovative formulations and delivery mechanisms that can increase the absorption of PGR inputs. For instance, formulations and delivery methods based on nanotechnology can increase the stability and bioavailability of PGRs and allow for tailored distribution to particular plant tissues.
Similarly, PGR technology research based on biostimulants has yielded promising results as well. Biostimulants are natural substances or microorganisms that promote the growth and development of plants, benefit nutrient uptake, increase nutrient uptake efficiency, etc. In terms of increasing agricultural productivity, enhancing plant quality, and lowering the demand for synthetic fertilisers, they have proven to be quite effective.
The discovery and development of new PGR compounds that can provide crops with unique benefits is another field of research in PGR technology. For instance, new PGRs are being developed to help crops better adapt to ever-changing environmental conditions. These PGRs can improve drought tolerance, nutrient use efficiency, and stress tolerance to lessen the risks of crop failure and ensure the profitability of farmers.
Application of PGRs in Precision Agriculture
In terms of potential future applications in precision farming, there are various areas where PGRs can have a substantial impact.
PGRs can be used to breed and develop new crop varieties with profitable traits like greater yield, improved fertiliser usage efficiency, and increased stress tolerance.
PGRs can be utilised to maximise agricultural yields and crop quality by enhancing crop management techniques like pruning, plant spacing, and watering.
Reduce input costs
By lowering the amount of fertiliser, water, and labour required, accurate and proper application of PGRs can help farmers conserve resources and money. It can also act as a big step towards making farming sustainable.
Under drought conditions, PGRs can be used to enhance plant development and growth. Farmers in regions with scarce water resources may greatly benefit from this.
PGRs can be used to strengthen the plant's built-in defences against disease. With the help of PGRs, the usage of synthetic agrochemicals can be reduced, making farming sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Regulate stress response
PGRs can be used to regulate plant growth and manage stress responses under volatile climatic conditions. This can enable farmers to reduce the impact of climate change on agricultural productivity and quality.
Precision application is a great advantage of using PGRs in precision farming. Farmers apply PGRs to a targeted area of the crop, which can help reduce the use of agrochemicals and increase the efficiency of crop management.
Precision agriculture possesses the incredible potential to usher in a new era of sustainable agriculture. With the help of PGRs, it can be hugely beneficial in maximising crop yields, decreasing agricultural waste, lessening crop failure, and improving environmental stress responses. It can help farmers mitigate the effects of climate change on crops and make farming more sustainable. Embracing the usage of PGRs in precision agriculture will be a significant step towards making Indian agriculture lucrative and sustainable.
Precision agriculture is the future of long-term sustainable farming. That's why Dhanuka Agritech is paving the way for its widespread adoption. To learn more about precision agriculture and plant growth regulators, please click here.