The farming sector has been around since the dawn of civilization, and hence, seems archaic. But the application of modern technologies is helping people engaged in agribusiness to improve productivity and save costs. While artificial intelligence (AI) and mixed reality offer technical assistance and their capabilities seem unlimited, this blog focuses on the role and benefits of the (Internet of Things) IoT in agriculture.
Thanks to IoT, smart farming isn’t a sci-fi concept but a functional approach that automates the process of farming.
What Does Smart Farming Mean?
Smart farming is an emerging concept where communication technologies, information, IoT-enabled sensors, automation, and predictive analysis are incorporated to augment the number of crops in a year. Moreover, the dependency on human labor significantly decreases in smart farming; while the quality of agricultural products advances.
Broadly, smart farming is divided into AgriTech and smart agriculture. Smart agriculture refers to IoT applications in the farming sector and the use of different devices connected to one another. AgriTech, on the other hand, is software created for the improvement of specific farming processes. Self-driving tractors, GPS farming and the use of robots in agriculture are some of the advancements in agriculture technology. Moreover, with drones becoming increasingly common in the farming sector, farmers have updates on what’s happening currently on their fields.
As there’s an increase in the adoption of technology in the farming sector, SaaS solutions are also finding their way into the industry. SaaS AgriTech is transforming the idea that farming is all about manual labor. SaaS startups are blending software and hardware solutions to capture and analyze data, provide actionable insights, and improve the overall yield. It is predicted that by 2022, there will be 75 million IoT systems deployed for the purpose of agriculture.
Utilization of IoT in Agriculture
1. Monitoring of livestock & climate conditions
IoT applications help farmers collect data regarding the well-being and location of their cattle. The information can be used to comprehend the livestock’s conditions. For example, when a few animals are sick, farmers can promptly separate them from the herd to stop spreading the disease. The ability to locate their cattle using IoT-based sensors help reduce labor costs. For instance, smart neck collars are available for cows that deliver valuable information, such as the animal’s activity, temperature, and behavior. It is a non-invasive monitoring system.
Similarly, weather stations are equipped with powerful sensors to collect weather data and send valuable information to farmers. Special software analyzes the information and offers farmers a ready-made assessment.
2. Farm Management Systems
Farm management systems are specifically designed to collect the overall information to make it easier for farmers to manage their farms. These systems typically come with analytical, reporting, and accounting features, and therefore, are a must-have for farmers.
FarmLogs is an example of a farm management system that analyzes and monitors the entire farm, helps farmers in making reports, and drawing up accounting.
3. Greenhouse automation
IoT can do a lot more than sourcing environmental data. With the right software, weather stations can adjust the temperature to match the required parameters and offer the apt conditions for individualized greenhouses.
For instance, there’s GreenIQ. The product uses smart sensors and controls the sprinklers. Therefore, farmers can remotely manage their lighting and irrigation systems.
4. Management of crops
IoT has made sensors for crops a possibility. These sensors collect vital information like crop health, temperature, precipitation, humidity, and other parameters. In case of any deviation, farmers can quickly identify them before it’s too late and take appropriate actions. The sensors even help farmers to decide the best time to plant and harvest crops.
For instance, Semios. It is one of the most prolific IoT projects that monitors and manages crops. The software gives remote access to farmers to monitor insects, climate, and disease.
IoT in Agriculture: Reshaping the Future
1. Improved data collection driving farming efficiency
The agricultural sector is in a race today. There are too many mouths to feed and too few resources. The rising population and lack of proper resources have forced farmers to grow more products in declining land availability, deteriorating soil, and increasing fluctuations in weather.
IoT-enabled agricultural solutions allow farmers to monitor the conditions and their products in real-time carefully and collect crucial data about the weather, land conditions, crop conditions, livestock, etc. The quick collection of data allows farmers to get insights fast and predict issues even before they happen. So, farmers can make informed decisions and find ways to avoid the problems.
Farming efficiency rises with the introduction of IoT solutions that help automate the farming process. For example, demand-based fertilizing, irrigation, and robot harvesting.
2. Resource optimization
IoT in agriculture focuses on optimizing the use of land, energy, and water. Thanks to precision farming relying on IoT, it is possible to quickly collect real-time data for varied sensors in the field. Farmers use the data to make accurate decisions and accurately allocate enough resources for farming efficiency.
3. End-to-end production control
The IoT-enabled agriculture solutions enhance the agility of the farming processes. The prediction and real-time monitoring systems make farmers control the entire crop production process without hassle. Farmers can quickly respond to changes in weather conditions, air quality, and humidity. Therefore, the production of crops is under the farmers’ control allowing damage prevention.
4. Reduced wastage and cost management
IoT solutions in farming help to mitigate the risks of agriculture. By quickly detecting anomalies and inconsistencies in crop production, farmers can reduce waste and control costs while increasing production.
5. Cleaner process reducing the carbon footprint
Smart farming using IoT is genuinely the solution to decrease the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Precision farming helps farmers save energy and water and make farming a greener activity. The approach ensures a more organic and cleaner final product compared to conventional agricultural methods. And, it reduces the overall carbon footprint.
6. Process automation
For the longest time, farming and manual labor were synonymous. Thanks to IoT and smart farming, the dependency on manual labor has reduced significantly. The processes like pest control, fertilizing, and irrigation are increasingly becoming automated, and farmers can control them remotely. The use of smart IoT sensors can maintain these processes, increasing crop production.
7. Accentuated product quality
By utilizing IoT solutions, smart farming is able to meet the growing demand for crops while providing the highest quality standards. With more and more solutions being designed and introduced, nations can decrease the necessity to import and increase the chances of exporting their products. As decisions are taken beforehand, the product quality remains pristine.
The use of IoT in agriculture is transforming the industry by leaps and bounds. Even though IoT products may vary from farm to farm, farmers cannot completely ignore using these solutions if they wish to remain competitive. From cattle monitoring and crop management to monitoring farms in real-time, IoT is reshaping every aspect of the agricultural sector.