IoT in Smart Agriculture

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By 2050, world population expected to reach around 9.5 billion mark. Based on a United Nations FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) report the overall volume of food production worldwide will have to increase by nearly 70% in 2050 to keep up with the rapidly growing global population.

The need of the hour is to consistently increase agricultural productivity & efficiency levels – and thus the importance of “Smart Agriculture” comes into picture. Smart Agriculture represents the application of modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into agriculture, leading to what can be called a Third Green Revolution. Following the plant breeding and genetics revolutions, this Third Green Revolution is taking over the agricultural world based upon the combined application of ICT solutions such as the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors and actuators, precision equipment, geo-positioning systems, Big Data, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, drones), robotics, etc.

Smart Agriculture Ecosystem:

  • Farmers and farm managers:  They are the end-users of smart farming technologies.
  • Technology providers:  they are coming up with innovative software applications/mobile apps, M2M tools, sensors and tracking devices, communication channels, gateways, data analytics tools and other smart equipment for the users.
  • OEMs: Providers tractors, pumps and sprayers are important stakeholders.
  • Influencers: Decision-making authorities, Government regulations
  • With the advancement of technology, players from different industries (retail, finance, chemicals, engineering etc.) joining the ecosystem in the last few years.

Components of Smart Agriculture:

  • Mobile applications can now be used by farmers to remotely track and manage yields, costs and other important farm parameters.
  • Sensing technologies (on-field sensors e.g. soil moisture measurement) have proved mighty useful, both hardware tools and software solutions have increased in popularity, a smart positioning technologies (GPS) for making agricultural practices smarter.
  • The importance of communication technology – via the cellular platform is extremely high.
  • Telematics (i.e., the transmission of information over long ranges) has been a key component of smart agriculture as well, as have been the advanced data analytics tools and platforms.

Each of these technologies are evolving every month – and smart agriculture is becoming more advanced, as a result.

Usage of latest IoT Technologies for Precision Farming

  • Smart sensors to be embedded in the farmland soil. These can easily measure the level of moisture and it can help farmers to start sprinkling the right amount of water upon the soil.
  • Upon integration with weather data it can give farmer the weather forecast.
  • Set alert and alarm conditions related to temperature, humidity, and other conditions for agricultural storage.
  • Track crop health
  • Set up irrigation schedule by connecting various hydraulic valves, pumps.
  • Remotely monitoring & controlling water pump operation at farmland.
  • Track the movement and behaviour of livestock remotely
  • Sensors for monitoring animal health, pregnancy detection & birthing time
  • Drones & imagery tools are used to inspect farmland & generate data about their crops.
  • While indoor horticulture offers the best opportunities for precision agriculture, fish farming is another field that has started to show big benefits from the implementation of smart technology. Right from GPS tools to track the migration of fishes and selecting the best locations for fishing, tracking feeding patterns and detecting probable diseases – everything can now be done with the help of advanced tech devices/monitors/sensors. Information about the water quality can also be generated.
  • Dairy management is another sector that show high adoption rates of smart farming methods.

IoT enabled solution for enhancing canal based irrigation

Conserve water resources better by monitoring irrigation through remote sensing technologies.

  • For demand based water deliveries, monitor discharges in the distributaries and control water deliveries.
  • Effective management of scarce water resources requires accurate information on water distribution at all levels:
    • GPRS based water meters: Using water metering network (at distributary canals), real-time reporting of discharged water can be done.
    • Water level sensors: Water levels in these dis-tributaries can be measured using non-contact ultrasonic sensors.

Growing opportunities

Agriculture thus has a diverse need for IoT. There are a lot of losses in farming & other aspects where the lack of data & insufficiency has created an issue. IoT not only solves a problem of real-time data collection & monitoring but also the gather data can be analysed further to improvise in next cycles

And it is not only for large, conventional farming exploitations, but can also be new levers to boost other common or growing trends in agricultural exploitations, such as family farming (small or complex spaces, specific cultures and/or cattle) organic farming. Smart farming also provides great benefits in terms of environmental issues, for example, through more efficient use of water.

Flexibility among hardware, software vendors, platform owners, agri-equipment manufacturer and mobile service providers, will lead to greater productivity, sustainability, reliability and optimized farming.