With the whole world being driven by technology, why should agriculture stay behind?
“According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the world will need to
produce 70% more food in 2050, to feed the growing population.
Factors such as climate change, limited arable land, water scarcity, labor demand, distress
migration, crop failures dues to outbreak in pests and diseases, and other variables will further aggravate this demand for global food production.”
This demand can be met with technology which has and will continue to play a major role in
smart farming in the coming years. More and more farmers, government institutions, agricultural companies are looking up to IoT to help them meet the growing food demand in an easier and faster way. In fact, with the help of IoT and data analytics in farming will help meet the industry challenges faster and in a cost-efficient manner.
Let us have a look at what exactly is Smart farming.
Smart Farming is the integration of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) with
farming in order to produce cleaner and sustainable produce for the masses. It requires the
greater expenditure in terms of capital than of labor.
IoT based smart farming automates the irrigation system and monitors the fields with the help
of sensors. It keeps factors like light, humidity, temperature, soil, etc under check and enables a closer observation from anywhere. It is not only time-saving but cost-effective too. IoT in agriculture will also pave the way for organic farming and family farming. This will also benefit a lot of environmental issues like proper water usage, reduce waste, quality of fertilizers and the optimization of other treatments as well.
IoT can transform the agriculture sector massively. Let us look deeper into how IoT will benefit various facets of agriculture in the longer run.
1. CLIMATE CONDITIONS
Agriculture and climate go hand in hand. If one does not have a clear understanding of climate
conditions, their product quality will be hampered massively. IoT enabled weather stations combines various smart farming sensors and are the most popular gadgets of smart farming.
They are placed at the far end of a field. They collect various data from the environment which
can be used to analyze the climate conditions, choosing the suitable crops and maintain and
enhance the efficiency of the crops. For example, Smart Elements, Pycno, etc.
2. PRECISION FARMING
Precision agriculture/farming is the use of technology to improve the efficiency of livestock and cops. Sensors, robotics, automated hardware, autonomous vehicles, etc are incorporated to practice farming in a more accurate and controlled manner. “For example, CropMetrics is a precision agriculture organization focused on ultra-modern agronomic solutions while specializing in the management of precision irrigation. The products and services of ropMetrics
include VRI optimization, soil moisture probes, virtual optimizer PRO, and so on. VRI (Variable
Rate Irrigation) optimization maximizes profitability on irrigated crop fields with topography or soil variability, improve yields, and increases water use efficiency. The soil moisture probe technology provides complete in-season local agronomy support, and recommendations to
optimize water use efficiency. The virtual optimizer PRO combines various technologies for
water management into one central, cloud-based, and powerful location designed for
consultants and growers to take advantage of the benefits in precision irrigation via a simplified interface.”
3. SMART GREENHOUSES
Smart greenhouses use IoT enable weather stations to automatically adjust the climate
conditions according to the given instructions. This work can be done manually too. But manual
intervention is less cost-effective apart from being prone to production loss and energy loss.
Smart greenhouses eliminate the human intervention making the entire process cost-effective
and also increasing the accuracy at the same time.
“For example, Illuminum Greenhouses is a drip installation and Agri-Tech greenhouse
organization and uses new modern technologies for providing services. It builds modern and
affordable greenhouses by using solar-powered IoT sensors. With these sensors, the greenhouse
state and water consumption can be monitored via SMS alerts to the farmer with an online
portal. Automatic Irrigation is carried out in these greenhouses.”
4. DATA ANALYTICS
The data collected can be used to analyze the weather conditions, crop conditions, cattle
conditions, and also be utilized to improve the performance and efficiency based on analytics.
This data will also enable farmers to predict how much crop they will be able to harvest which
will help them manage their internal processes better and lower the production risks too.
Farmers will be able to maintain higher standards of crop quality and fertilizer quality which will enhance the product quality and volume as well. So we get not only quality but quantity as well.
The use of drones in agriculture has massive benefits. In order to enhance various agricultural
practices, farmers and farming organizations use ground-based and aerial-based drones to
assess the crop conditions, irrigation, fertilizer spraying, soil analysis, planting, etc. Drones are important for integrated GIS mapping, crop health imaging, crop monitoring. They are easy to use and save a lot of time.
“For example, PrecisionHawk is an organization that uses drones for gathering valuable data via
a series of sensors that are used for imaging, mapping, and surveying of agricultural land. These drones perform in-flight monitoring and observations. The farmers enter the details of what field to survey and select an altitude or ground resolution.
From the drone data, we can draw insights regarding plant health indices, plant counting and
yield prediction, plant height measurement, canopy cover mapping, field water ponding
mapping, scouting reports, stockpile measuring, chlorophyll measurement, nitrogen content in
wheat, drainage mapping, weed pressure mapping, and so on.
The drone collects multispectral, thermal, and visual imagery during the flight and then lands in the same location it took off.”