The farming and agricultural industry has come a long way over the years. Many of its innovations rely heavily on technological advancements to help increase crop yields and improve farm operations. For example, tractors first emerged in the early 19th century and by 1966, John Deere became the first manufacturer to offer farmers a tractor equipped with a roll bar to help protect the operator. Today, the company offers specialty sensing solutions for different agriculture environments to provide farmers with accurate data for precision farming. As technology continues to advance, farm operations have become more automated with wireless sensors and devices to improve efficiency and accuracy in how farmers plant, produce and care for their livestock.
Today, the driving force behind the increased agricultural production at a reduced cost is the IoT. Now, system integrators, solution providers and engineers are looking to bring their smart farming solutions to market. Let’s explore some of the different applications and use cases in agriculture.
Soil & Plant Monitoring for Precision Farming
The process of manual soil maintenance adds a considerable burden on operational costs for farmers as well as the time and effort needed to ensure the soil is kept at optimal conditions. Oftentimes, the lack of real-time soil data can lead to over or underwatering the soil which not only wastes a considerable amount of water but it can also destroy crops.
By leveraging the power of IoT and wireless sensors, today’s farmers can yield better crops and reduce costs. For example, IoT sensors collect data related to temperature, water content, rainfall, and other necessary parameters in real-time. Farmers can utilize this information to identify trends and to predict irrigation needs. Wireless monitoring allows them to check crop water levels remotely saving time, money and effort. The ability to access this data on any handheld device or PC allows for greater flexibility and precision farming.
Many farm owners are using IoT applications to collect critical data regarding the location, well-being, and health of their livestock. This information helps them to identify animals that are sick so they can be separated from the herd, preventing the spread of disease. Additionally, farmers are also using wireless sensors to gather important information on pregnant animals. The real-time information gathered from these sensors will alert farmers in the event a pregnant animal gives birth allowing for improved care and observation.
SmartShepherd, a company focused on helping farmers breed better livestock, has developed a wireless smart collar that uses BLE technology to track and monitor the relationship between offspring and their mothers. The collar also identifies poor performing breeding stock so farmers can use this data to increase their livestock productivity while reducing carbon emission.
Most of us are familiar with greenhouses and how they work. Traditionally, micro-climate parameters have been recorded in a very manual and inconsistent manner. There’s a limit to what farmers can measure and these practices are usually done on a pre-defined, assumption-based schedule. We know how weather conditions can change throughout the day and how “invisible” conditions like open doors or early-stage infection can influence the greenhouse environment and threaten to damage crops. Thanks to recent technological advancements, smart greenhouses have emerged and today’s farmers are leveraging the IoT and connected devices to create a self-regulating microclimate beneficial to crop production. These controlled environments equipped with wireless sensors eliminate the struggles of extreme weather while delivering real-time insights to farmers for improved efficiency. These insights from data and analytics help farmers regulate irrigation, lighting, temperature and more to optimize yield and reduce manual intervention.
In sum, the above mentioned are just a few of the innovative and beneficial applications for smart farming IoT. As new IoT technologies emerge and used in the agricultural industry, many of the traditional methods of farming will be replaced with smart farming practices to reduce inefficiencies, improve farming operations and maximize yields.