If agriculture is to continue to feed the growing population, it needs to overcome the challenges of modern farming - smart production, biodiversity management, gas emission control, smart packaging and logistics and waste management. Agricultural companies are looking into IoT for helping them advance into smart production.
[updated July 2021]
The importance of agriculture in the future
The UN projects that global agricultural production will rise by 69% between 2010 and 2050 to meet the demand for food and the estimation has not taken into account the worsened conditions after Covid-19. Taking this into consideration, the goal of ending global hunger by 2030 will not be achieved.
To answer the demands of modern agriculture, farmers are turning to IoT for greater production capabilities and data. Agriculture IoT is set to push the future of farming to the next level and yet smart farming, alongside construction and urban planning are the fields most behind on adopting the Internet of Things.
Smart agriculture is slowly becoming more commonplace among farmers. We are now seeing agricultural drones and sensors becoming commonplace for farming.
The challenges of modern farming
Many current problems in agriculture are not new and businesses are ever hard-pressed to balance between profit and sustainability. For example erosion and pollution have been around as long as agriculture, but with the growth of production, their effects are more widely spread. As soil becomes unproductive or erodes away, more land is then ploughed. Sustainable farming is often the biggest challenge for modern farmers.
Farming has always been a time-consuming task, which leads farmers and agricultural businesses with little to no time to focus on implementing tech. It is often hard to react to problems immediately when it comes to crops or farm animals because the issue is not always visible. As a result, any time not spent taking care of the production may lead to expensive mistakes with disastrous results
The common IoT applications in agriculture
Farmers increasingly use IoT for precision farming, monitoring and automation. For example, sensors placed in fields give detailed maps of topography and resources, as well as condition parameters such as acidity and temperature of the soil. Sensors can also access climate forecasts to predict weather patterns. This mitigates the risk of natural disasters or bad care affecting crops.
Drones have also become commonplace in smart agriculture. With a wide operational range and mobility, farming drones can survey and send real-time data back to the farmer, as well as spray fields. Smart tractors, much like any smart 'vehicle', are also becoming popular with their self-driving capabilities.
Agricultural producers can also use their smartphones to remotely monitor their equipment, crops, and livestock. Modern farms can be equipped with automated feeders, temperature regulators, watering systems or automated lighting. All connected and controlled through cellular connectivity, IoT for farming can bring tons of data at a click of a button.
Smart farming can minimize costs, improve yield and reduce waste with a simple IoT implementation.
It's easy to execute
Today, it is easy for farmers to install sensors and get them connected. Once connected these sensors can be in constant communication with one another. As a result, farmers can see what’s happening across the farming operation in real-time.
Environmental sensors provide data on humidity, air temperature, irrigation, soil composition and moisture. Soil moisture sensors help prevent expensive mistakes like over or under-watering crops. Other types of sensors control LED lighting for greenhouses, monitoring tanks and silos. As a result of saving money on wasted energy and keeps crops healthier.
If planned well, sensors can assist in every stage of the farming process. From the time seeds are planted to harvest time. And to when the produce arrives by truck to the shops.
The future of sensors in Agriculture IoT applications will continue to grow. IoT will play a major role in obtaining a competitive advantage for farmers too. Check out our quick guide to IoT connectivity to understand what are the key factors to consider when choosing your IoT connectivity provider for your smart agriculture and farming.