Kufos, CWRDM develop space tech-based spectral library of Uma rice

A groundbreaking development has emerged from the collaboration between the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (Kufos) and the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM). Utilizing space technology, these scientific institutions have successfully created a spectral library for Uma rice, an indigenous rice variety widely cherished in Kerala.

Led by Girish Gopinath of Kufos, the team employed remote sensing techniques to study the spectral signature variations of Uma rice plants at different stages of growth. This analysis proved invaluable in identifying water stress conditions, among other significant findings.

The newly established spectral library for Uma rice holds immense potential in advancing precision farming practices and enhancing crop management strategies. T. Pradeepkumar, the Vice-Chancellor of Kufos, emphasized its role in accurately assessing the spatial distribution of this rice variety in specific locations, comprehending growth stages, and evaluating the impact of water or nutrient stress. Furthermore, the library enables the estimation of yields through remote sensing imagery.

Dr. Gopinath asserts that the advent of space technology-based spectra could revolutionize the monitoring of rice cultivation, significantly reducing the need for extensive fieldwork, labor, and associated costs. U. Surendran led the team of scientists from CWRDM, whose collective efforts contributed to this remarkable achievement.

The Kerala State Council for Science, Technology, and Environment generously funded the study, aptly titled ‘Development of Spectral Library for Hyperspectral Data with Special Emphasis on Paddy,’ with a grant of ₹83.5 lakh.

Uma rice, also known as ‘unda rice,’ is renowned for its round shape and sticky texture. This popular variety was initially introduced by the Mancompu research station of the Kerala Agricultural University in 1998. Since its launch, Uma rice has garnered favor in Kuttanad due to its impressive yield and ability to withstand stressful conditions.

Gradually, Uma rice has become the most widely cultivated rice variety in Kerala, making an indelible mark on the state’s culinary landscape and contributing to its diverse food culture.

Despite the challenges posed by climate change and its associated extreme events, Uma rice remains a steadfast staple. The rice variety has displayed remarkable resilience in the face of uneven rainfall patterns, which often trigger drought conditions and water stress, making it an invaluable asset for farmers.

The successful development of this spectral library marks a significant milestone in the realm of space technology and its application in agriculture. With its potential to enhance precision farming, enable accurate assessments, and reduce labor-intensive practices, the future of rice cultivation holds great promise.

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