“Hyperspectral imaging dramatically enhances crop management”

Amandeep Panwar, Director and Co-founder of BharatRohan, shares his views on the company's larger mission, achievements, latest initiatives and outlook

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Amandeep Panwar, Co-founder & Director, BharatRohan.
BharatRohan, a drone AgriTech startup aims to transform agriculture from intuition-driven to data-driven though its cutting-edge UAV/drone technology and hyperspectral imaging.
In an exclusive interview, Amandeep Panwar, Director and Co-founder of BharatRohan, shares his views on the company’s larger mission, achievements, latest initiatives and outlook.

BV LogoWhat are the key milestones achieved by BharatRohan since its inception in 2016?
BharatRohan has introduced drone-based crop monitoring services to farmers under CropAssure services. Drones equipped with Hyperspectral sensors detect pests, diseases, and crop health. This technology enables farmers to make informed decisions by replacing guesswork with scientific precision and promotes integrated pest management & Sustainable methods. A noteworthy milestone includes mint farmers in Uttar Pradesh saving around Rs. 3620 per acre by increasing the oil content in the crop
The company has also launched its line of products such as plant growth promoters like HumeShakti, JadShakti, TrichoShakti, and a bio-pesticide called SilverShakti.These products are effective in small doses for healthy plant growth and complete elimination of pests in a sustainable way.
BharatRohan has its operations flag-off with 42 farms and farmers as a pilot in partnership with CSIR-CIMAP Lucknow and over the years expanded its operations to serve more than 50,000 farmers in 200,000 acres in six different states and launched franchise for Drone stations to FPCs and rural youth.
The company has initiated and executed several sustainable initiatives, including alternative wetting and drying (AWD) procedures in paddy to reduce water use and greenhouse gas emissions. BharatRohan has also adopted integrated pest management (IPM) approaches in spice crops in Rajasthan, providing farmers with the necessary training and support.
BharatRohan has teamed with UNESCAP to build inclusive business models, as well as with government agencies to deliver drone-based crop monitoring services to farmers.
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Has it been easy to convince farmers to implement drones? What are the challenges and how do you address them?
It has been quite challenging to introduce drone technology to farmers due to various barriers such as their reliance on traditional farming methods, financial constraints, and limited technical knowledge in rural areas. Many farmers were initially skeptical about the benefits of integrating drones into their farming practices. However, we have worked to address these challenges by organizing training and pilot projects for farmers. Our goal is to help them understand the advantages of adopting technology in their farming operations. To further promote the use of drones in agriculture, we have also partnered with several governments and organizations to provide drone and crop monitoring services. Our ultimate aim is to demonstrate to farmers how drones can increase the sustainability and profitability of their agricultural operations.
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How do drones equipped with hyperspectral imagery contribute to increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and enhancing productivity in farming operations?
Hyperspectral imaging dramatically enhances crop management by capturing information beyond the visible spectrum, enabling to identify subtle differences in plant light reflectance This information gives data of plant health, water levels and nutrient status, and allows for targeted intervention where needed. By identifying these specific areas, farmers can make better use of critical resources such as water, fertilizers and pesticides.
The technology helps in the rapid detection of diseases and pests by monitoring changes in plant spectral signatures. Early resolution of these issues reduces reliance on high-dose pesticides, significantly reduces potential crop losses, and therefore reduces costs.
Additionally, hyperspectral imaging provides detailed insights that help refine planting methods, improve soil health, and provide crops with specific nutrient needs This accuracy leads to higher yields and improves agricultural productivity things improve.
The comprehensive data collection enables farmers to gain actionable insights that affect crop rotation decisions, optimal harvesting times, and other critical agricultural applications. The combination of these insights makes business more efficient, productive, and economical.
“In FY23, BharatRohan achieved a remarkable financial performance with a 196% increase in revenue and a 172% increase in profit margins. This growth was primarily fueled by expanding the farmer base by 50,000, thereby increasing coverage to an additional 200,000 acres.”
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Your key R&D initiatives and product outcomes? Any plans to further innovate in this space?
Our current research and development efforts are based on a strategic partnership with PJTSAU, which aims to build a comprehensive spectral library to enhance the detection of insect diseases in rice and cotton crops, going forward we will expand our crop portfolio. This system is designed to significantly increase yields and reduce losses from major pests like brown plant hopper and pink bollworm, rice crack and boll rot, with an expected reduction in crop losses of 20-30% It will give us our ability to analyze and manage effectively has further improved.
In addition, we have collaborated with ABI-ICRISAT, which provides state-of-the-art research facilities to Bharat Rohan. This collaboration strengthens our SeedAssure® service, which provides critical support for plant breeders. Through this project, we provide extensive drone-based data insights for hybrid evaluation assays and high-throughput phenotyping experiments. Key parameters measured included plant height, canopy cover, panicle formation, flowering time, disease severity, water stress and chlorophyll content. This information is important for breeders when developing varieties with specific traits such as drought and disease resistance. Our drone technology ensures that this data is collected with minimal human intervention, maintaining high accuracy (approximately 95%) and resolution (5 cm/pixel).
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What are some emerging trends in Indian AgriTech space that you are particularly excited about?
Combining AI with data processing algorithms greatly improves the accuracy of image analysis. These technologies are essential for the interpretation of large-scale data collected through various imaging techniques, and to enable accurate monitoring of crop health, optimization of resource management, and accurate crop forecasting This quality this is paving the way for smarter, more efficient farming techniques that can adapt in real-time to changing crop conditions.
This technology is essential for processing large amounts of data locally, right at the source of data collection, such as on drones or field sensors, before sending it to central servers. This reduces latency, speeds up decision-making processes, and decreases the dependency on constant connectivity, which can be a challenge in remote farming areas. Edge computing enhances the capability of real-time data analysis and decision-making directly in the field.
Drones with enhanced endurance capabilities are a game-changer for agricultural monitoring and operations. These drones can cover larger areas without the need for frequent recharging, making them ideal for surveying, pesticide application, and monitoring large farms or difficult terrain. Their improved aerial performance efficiency means they can spend more time in the air, gathering crucial data and delivering interventions more consistently and comprehensively.
The fusion of different data sources—such as multispectral, hyperspectral, and SAAS (Software as a Service) data—is particularly exciting. This integration allows for a more holistic view of the farm environment. By combining these diverse data streams, AgriTech platforms can provide more comprehensive and nuanced insights, leading to better-informed decisions that encompass everything from soil health to microclimate conditions. This approach not only enhances the precision of the information provided but also significantly increases the effectiveness of the interventions.
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Company’s financial performance in FY23 and the growth factors? Key initiatives lined up in FY24 and revenue expectations?
In FY23, BharatRohan achieved a remarkable financial performance with a 196% increase in revenue and a 172% increase in profit margins. This growth was primarily fueled by expanding the farmer base by 50,000, thereby increasing coverage to an additional 200,000 acres. The company also initiated several sustainable projects such as Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM), enhanced collaborations with government agencies and agribusiness organizations for crop monitoring services, and launched a range of in-house agricultural inputs.
For FY24, BharatRohan has lined up several key initiatives to sustain and enhance its growth. These include expanding its market presence into different states, increasing the farmer base for drone monitoring services, and broadening its agricultural input product line to include plant growth promoters, pesticides, and biocides which supports the commitment to reduce the chemical residues on the crop. Additionally, the company plans to enter the export market for spices and launch in-house drones for crop monitoring and spraying.
BharatRohan is also set to introduce franchise models, which are expected to further drive revenue growth, aiming to replicate or surpass the financial success experienced in FY23.