Agriculture is no more about doing the hard work in the hundreds and thousands of acres under the scorching sun or damp rainy weather. But it’s all about smart work. The role of IoT in agriculture is evolving rapidly and smart farming is the need of the hour.
As the famous saying goes, the traditional list of the three basic needs for humankind is ‘Food, clothing, and Shelter,’ Food always remains the first and foremost basic necessity.
To feed the evergoing population which, is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the agriculture industry must follow a much vigorous model to meet the demand.
Milestones of IoT in Agriculture
- In the early days, when sensors were introduced in the agriculture sector, the data was retrieved later from the device’s memory.
- It does not help much as it did not provide live data.
- Later, Industrial IoT had a great impact on the Agricultural sector. IIoT introduced several advanced sensor technologies that provided live data effectively.
- Smart Farming was introduced in the late ’90s which paved way to a green revolution.
- The future of Smart Agriculture is moving towards predictive analytics.
Applications of IoT in Agriculture
Precision farming is also known as Smart Farming, accurately determines what type of treatment care needs to be given to the animals, plants by using IoT in agriculture. Right from GPS, sensors, robotics, ICT all help to take the agricultural industry to a whole new level.
“Precision Farming provides the real-time data which accurately specifies the best time of when the crop needs to be planted, fertilized and when it is ready for harvesting.”
So, why do we need smart farming in the first place? To get better resource management and increase productivity, IoT sensor technology is successfully integrated into the farming sector that is proven to reduce resource wastages.
For example, to get a single ounce of peanut, we need to use 4 gallons of water. But with effective smart farming techniques, we can measure the soil quality, weather conditions, and other attributes before starting any cultivation.
Key Features of these Precision Farming include,
- To improve productivity and increase the revenue at a large scale, integrating with modern agriculture methods like GPS, Remote Sensor technology, Geographical Information system is practiced.
- In the water crisis, farming is the first industry to get almost affected. But through precision farming, it helps to increase the irrigation efficiency when there is water scarcity.
- Automated steering systems, Geo Mapping, Integrated electronic communication systems enhance agriculture and reduce soil degradation, prevents water contamination.
Drones in the Agriculture Sector
Drones are not an only defense-friendly machine which has helped many mission-critical projects but also stepped into the agricultural sector as well. Two types of drones are equally utilized in the field, one is the ground-based drone and the other is the aerial one to give the farmers a complete 360 degree of the field for better analysis and crop management.
“According to a recent report, agricultural robots and drones are expected to reach 35 billion dollars in the next 5 years”
Key Features of Drones in Agriculture
- Monitoring the health of the crop is a tedious process especially when you have to maintain hundreds of acres. Drones, which are equipped with multispectral sensors, the farmers and the landowners now can get real-image to determine the crop quality.
- Satellite imaging is often a long process where the farmers need to wait a couple of weeks to get the full image data. But, with Drones, the landscape image can be captured instantly whenever required
- Drones help to spray insecticides and pesticides on the crop quickly covering a large hectare space in less time. Many IoT app development companies have developed several types of sprayer technology that is in-built with the machines to yield greater revenue.
- Field analysis is an important part of the drones where drones help in-field assessment through the GIS mapping technique. Through in-flight monitoring, it collects all the data and gives the observation.
- From take-off to landing, the drone collects all the data and gives thermal and visual imagery and lands back to the same location it took off.
Monitoring the LiveStock using Live data
Just like monitoring crop health, one of the main assets for the farmers is cattle health. To effectively check on the cattle health, LiveStock monitoring is one of the critical applications of the internet of things in agriculture
“Live Stock monitoring helps the farmers to monitor the cattle heath and take any precautions to spread any disease.”
Key Features of LiveStock Monitoring
- Reduce labour costs by preventing the spreading of any disease among the cattle and IoT to locate any cattle if it is lost from the herd.
- Also, livestock monitoring helps the farmers to determine if the cattle are fed in a proper environment if it had an adequate amount of food and is within the designed area and so on.
- It also detects accurate information if any cattle is pregnant, if so the data is collected from the heifer, when the water breaks, accordingly the appropriate care is given to the cattle without any delay. This ensures the safety of both the cow and the calf.
- One of the companies which implemented livestock monitoring is JMB North America.
Industrial IoT solution helps to build many smart ecosystems like a Smart Greenhouse which is the future of agriculture. It provides an optimal environment for the plants to grow in a micro-climate controlled, self-regulating place.
“Smart Greenhouses to enhance the corp and the environment with sensors and actuators”
- Through the various sensors, the data is sent and collected in an AWS cloud, where the user can monitor all the data through a dashboard.
- Greenhouse automatically controls the temperature, humidity, heating and water temperature.
- Builds solar based greenhouses that are integrated with IoT sensor technology.
- It provides SMS alert notifications to the farmers about the current state of the greenhouse, its water level, air conditioning, etc directly sent to the user.
- Integrated monitors help in climate control giving a complete visual of the plantation without any human intervention.
In addition to the various IoT applications, there are also some challenges of IoT in agriculture while implementing it, like lack of knowledge in utilizing the sensor equipment, investing in high end sensors and drones which is a budget constraint for small scale farmers. But, the benefits of IoT in agriculture and the revenue it yields in the long run is worth every penny. Also, there are several apps like compost, Greenhouse, Meteorological station network helps to get the forecast data, micro-climate conditions and maintain the equipment on a regular base.
Jay writes B2B technical blogs and interested to delve deep into niche technologies. She is passionate to learn more about the new developments in the IoT sector. She is a coffee-lover, avid traveller, yoga enthusiast and, part of the Chennai Women’s Book Club.