Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicted the world will have to produce 50% more food, feed and biofuel in 2050 than it did in 2012. The farming industry will become more important over the upcoming few decades because of the expanding population of the Earth, estimated to be more than 9 billion.
Farming has seen a range of technological transformations over the years, and has become increasingly more industrialized and technology driven. Smart agriculture and high-tech farming is fast becoming the standard as the business turns to the Internet of Things (IoT) for analytics and greater production capabilities.
The adoption of various agricultural smart-tools, such as weather stations and soil monitors, has allowed farmers to gain control over the practice of growing crops and raising livestock, making their business more predictable, efficient, and profitable.
The Internet of Things has given the agricultural sector an unprecedented degree of control and ability to automate decision making via connected smart devices and a smart net of sensors, actuators, robots, cameras, and drones.
Sensors, Big Data and Analytics Increase Efficiencies
The benefits of big data gathered from weather stations, soil moisture, pH sensors, crop monitors (pest management and overall crop health), livestock tracking sensors, and equipment tracking allows for real-time analytics to help address challenges such as: efficient use of pesticides, fertilizers, water, and energy.
The compounding benefit of this data enhances manufacturing risks and increases efficiencies across the business.
The EU has budgeted $30 million into the Internet of Things agriculture research to explore the potential of IoT-technologies for the European food and farming industry, taking the necessary steps towards a more sustainable food value chain with precision crop management.
Key stakeholders along the food value chain have been engaged in the research. These stakeholders include technology service providers, software companies, and academic research institutions in the areas of arable, dairy, fruits, meat, and vegetable agriculture.
One study targets the precision management of nitrogen and water from wheat production.
Using sensor data in low power-long-range network infrastructure and computer modelling, farmers can utilize site-specific farming to track within-field variability to greatly enhance efficiency of nitrogen and water use, reducing the environmental footprint, maintaining the optimal harvest surroundings, and saving costs.
8 Applications for the Internet of Things and Smart Devices in Agriculture:
Predictive Maintenance: Equipment is maintained based on analytics shipped from sensors to smart-devices, supplying data on how well the equipment is functioning and whether maintenance will be needed soon.
This gives the farmers an opportunity to make sure there is not any gear failure or downtime through critical phases and reduces long-term maintenance costs.
Drones: Labor-intensive practices are reduced with the use of drones for field tracking and planting, allowing smart farms to become efficient and cost-effective.
Livestock Monitoring: smart-device collar tags provide health, activity, and nutrition advice of each bunny and are capable of the analyzing data to track the general health and location of the herd. Farmers can isolate livestock that is sick, mitigating risk of spreading the illness to the entire herd.
Crop Management: Overall crop health can be tracked using sensors to monitor temperature, precipitation, soil pH, leaf water potential and nutrient amounts. Further, anomalies that can harm crop yield, such as disease and pest infestation can be tracked and managed.
Pest Control: sensors alert the farmer when pest invasion has reached a critical mass, or populations are reduced without the use of poisonous pesticides, as actuators activate pheromone dispersion onto crops automatically.
Water Management: water-waste is reduced through soil sensors that track moisture levels. The sensors trigger site-specific irrigation when soil reaches target dryness levels; water only flows long to restore the optimal moisture level.
Smart Greenhouses can utilize sensors to monitor temperature and moisture levels, allowing the farmer to control the atmosphere remotely, or through the automation of irrigation and fans.
Gear and livestock safety can be tracked through the use of cloud security cameras preventing loss or damages of gear, property or property, in real-time.
Using the analytics supplied from incoming data, farmers can see anomalies in the rise of their crops or at the health of their livestock, mitigating risk of reduction. Further, through efficient use of pesticides, fertilizer and irrigation, less merchandise is wasted, translating into additional cost benefits.
With predictive equipment maintenance, equipment can operate more, or be maintained when necessary, increasing efficiencies across the board that will lead to higher earnings.
5 Benefits of Precision Farming:
More sustainable food value chain as the Internet of Things connects supply, to merchandise subsector, to distribution.
Traceability and transparency will increase food safety along the food chain.
Optimized growing environment producing a stronger, healthier yield and better quality, whilst reducing pesticide, fertilizer and water use through process automation and optimized efficiency.
Farmers will experience lower manufacturing risk together with the ability to foresee yield and output of manufacturing allowing them to predict just how much of their harvest they will be able to harvest and plan ahead for product distribution.
Compounding financial benefit gained from optimized merchandise efficiencies, increased yields and reduced manufacturing risk will ultimately lead to higher revenue.
IoT Improves Competitive Advantage
The Internet of Things is changing the way farmers and agri-business reduce prices, increase business & farming efficiencies, and enhance transparency of food safety along the food chain.
Eventually IoT will become a requirement for any agri-business that wishes to remain competitive. Farmers that don’t embrace this technology will fall behind.