The Internet of Things (IoT) is about making “dumb” things “smart” by connecting them to each other and to the internet enabling physical objects to be sensed and controlled remotely, creating opportunities for more direct interaction between the physical world and computer-based systems.
On farms, IOT allows devices across a farm to measure all kinds of data remotely and provide this information to the farmer in real time. IOT devices can gather information like soil moisture, chemical application, dam levels and livestock health – as well as monitor fences, vehicles and weather.
Smart agriculture is a broad term that collects agricultural and food production practices powered by Internet of Things, big data and advanced analytics technology. Common smart applications are:
IoT is about the power of data. Data from devices can guide farmers’ decisions, helping them farm smarter and safer and adapt more quickly to changing conditions. Information generated by IOT devices allows farmers to track farm operations and performance, make better informed decisions to improve farm productivity in yield, and respond more quickly to their conditions saving time and money.
It can put data behind the all-important farmer gut instinct. Whether that be knowing when to check on water supply to a trough, how much fertilizer to apply to a crop, and which ewe to check during lambing.
The ability to monitor farm conditions and infrastructure remotely can free up time, labour and capital to invest, allowing farmers to focus on other things.
Today’s agriculture is in a race. Farmers have to grow more product in deteriorating soil, declining land availability and increasing weather fluctuation. IoT-enabled agriculture allows farmers to monitor their product and conditions in real-time. They get insights fast, can predict issues before they happen and make informed decisions on how to avoid them. Additionally, IoT solutions in agriculture introduce automation, for example, demand-based irrigation, fertilizing and robot harvesting.
IoT-based greenhouses and hydroponic systems will shorten the short food supply chain. Smart closed-cycle agricultural systems allow growing food basically everywhere—in supermarkets, on skyscrapers’ walls and rooftops, in shipping containers and, of course, in the comfort of everyone’s home.
By optimizing the use of resources—water, energy, land – precision farming using IoT collects data from diverse sensors in the field and helps farmers accurately allocate just enough resources. Smart farming help producers save water and energy and also makes farming greener by significantly scaling down on the use of pesticides and fertilizer. This approach produces a cleaner and more organic final product compared to traditional agricultural methods.
Thanks to real-time monitoring and prediction systems, farmers can quickly respond to any significant change in weather, humidity, air quality as well as the health of each crop or soil in the field. In the conditions of extreme weather changes, new capabilities help agriculture professionals save the crops.
Data-driven agriculture helps you both grow more and better products. Using soil and crop sensors, aerial drone monitoring and farm mapping, farmers can better understand detailed dependencies between the conditions and the quality of the crops. Using connected systems, you can recreate the best conditions and increase the nutritional value of the products.
There’s a wide range of IoT sensors used in agriculture, including soil, humidity, moisture, light, air temperature, CO2, solar energy sensor, and many others. Installed throughout the fields, in the IoT-based monitoring systems, on smart agriculture vehicles and weather stations, sensors continuously collect data and bring visibility and control into agriculture operations.
The combination of data coming from diverse sensors allows farmers to build crop models and predict how crops will grow in given conditions, integrate precision farming practices and create harvesting strategies, etc.
Gyroscope and image sensors are widely used in robots, autonomous vehicles and drones for field health monitoring, geomapping and land analytics, autonomous irrigation and crop fertilization.
Portable soil scanners use near-infrared and EC sensing for real-time soil diagnostics and recommendations on ground fertilizing and treatment. IoT agriculture sensors used by the scanner send information to the data processing centre, which sends the insights right to the farmer’s phone.
Sensors provide automated moisture, temperature and EC monitoring and enable efficient and wasteless irrigation to reduce water consumption.
You need to provide connectivity throughout the agricultural environment—fields, storehouses, barns, greenhouses, etc. to make an IoT system work. And this is a lot of space to work with. Ideally, it should also be a reliable uninterrupted connection which could withstand severe weather events and open space conditions.
Our solutions use the Sigfox network which in Ireland cover 99% of the island through antennae on RTE radio masts and thereby overcoming this challenge particularly for outdoor spaces.
Any IoT system used in agriculture should be able to handle not only connectivity, but the conditions of outdoor spaces. Drones, portable sensors, IoT in smart grid and weather monitoring stations should have an uncomplicated yet functional design and a certain level of robustness to “work in the farm.” Not to mention the complexity and peculiarity of designing an IoT product in general.
Our solutions have a very rugged design and since they are mobile – attached to shipping containers and combis – can withstand lots of tough environments. Some models allow for replaceable batteries which means the IOT trackers can last over 5 years in the wild.
The role of IoT in agriculture is very important, though the integration of smart technology in this area takes place in the context of a constantly changing environment and lack of time.
The companies who design and develop IoT for agriculture have to take into consideration rapid climate change and emerging weather extremes, work with limited land availability and unfavorable factors like dying pollinators.
On the bright side, in response to these conditions, many progressive projects are emerging. IoT used in agriculture has a big promising future as a driving force of efficiency, sustainability and scalability in this industry.