The Internet of Things is here, and it takes farming to the next level. Smart agriculture is becoming (yet not as fast as we’d want it to) more and more commonplace. Back in 2018, the IoT farming market was worth $7.53B; by 2023, it is going to reach an astonishing $13B.
It won’t take long for ‘smart’ farming to become a new standard. But how do farmers use these tech solutions? Why is smart farming getting more popular every year?
Below, I’ve outlined what is IoT in agriculture, how it helps farmers meet the world’s demands, and what it is used for.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
What’s Smart Farming Exactly?
With the boost of technologies, farming went through an awful lot of changes. As a result, we take advantage of smart agriculture now. IoT is just the next step to the automation of farming processes.
In plain words, IoT combines software with connected devices and lets farmers make use of modern technologies in agriculture to make the workflow more convenient and efficient.
Smart farming (or smart agriculture) refers to the use of new technologies and IoT devices (sensors, trackers, and so on) to change centuries-old methods of farming.
How does smart agriculture work? Smart farming works because of special sensors that help farmers track nearly everything going on on their land, from water level to weather conditions.
Why Use IoT in Agriculture?
Here are a few examples of how farmers take advantage of IoT:
Keep everything under control
All these IoT-based smart sensors work with software, which means they record, analyze, and visualize information. And if you keep all data in one place, be it weather conditions or how your cattle feel, you’ll always be aware of the situation and be able to make fast decisions.
Lower the risks
If you can see how many crops you’ll make this season, you have time for planning how to distribute it best. Making sure that the leftovers won’t lie around unsold, and you won’t lose money.
Make better products
With smart agriculture, you see problems and handle them beforehand, be it irrigation or pests control. While other business processes keep on functioning as they always do, and there’s no need to free them.
Smart Farming: 4 IoT Use Cases
I’ve singled out the four most common use cases of IoT in agriculture. Plus, added a few companies that deliver tech solutions to the main agriculture sectors, namely, crops and livestock production.
Soil monitoring sensors collect data about rainfall, soil and air temperature, moisture, and other metrics to predict irrigation needs. And they make sure there won’t be over or underwatering of crops.
In turn, farmers will save time they usually spend on checking crop water levels – manually or by making an educated guess. And focus on other parts of the business, be it bookkeeping or meeting with clients.
Sensors show information in real-time, instantly, on any online device. That makes the overall situation on the field more traceable and provides a better decision-making process.
Example: Semios platform is one of those tools that help growers worry less about their orchards or vineyard. The Semios enhance yields and enables real-time optimization of pest management, plant health assessments, and much more. Semios network of sensors track and send reports in real-time which helps farmers to receive up-to-date information about the situation on the fields.
Farmers aren’t just growing crops; they also breed thousands of animals who breathe, move, and get sick. That’s why being able to monitor their health, location, and so on is critical to many farmers’ businesses.
And that’s when IoT solutions come really handy. In essence, they help owners to monitor cattle’s heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, and even digestion. They track an animal’s location helping farmers find sick animals or figure out optimal grazing patterns.
Here’s how it could help farmers save costs:
- Avoid epidemic. Sick animals will be spotted and immediately isolated from the rest of the herd, so the disease won’t spread.
- Lower workforce costs. Farmers know where their livestock is, so they don’t waste time herding them.
Most of these monitoring solutions are cloud-based, so farmers can access data from any device and address issues faster via convenient user interfaces.
Examples: Collar offers smart, non-invasive neck collars that monitor the temperature, activity & behavior of each cow. This platform provides early disease detection and improved reproduction rates to more easily track animal health and population on the farm. Farmers get alerts and recommendations via text messages or robotic calls on any device which helps receive actual information on the animals’ state.
SCR offers a similar solution – an advanced cow monitoring system to collect and analyze data for every individual animal, from its activity to rumination. As an option, the user can set SMS alerts that the system can sand on the farmer’s device.
The toughest part is placing these sensors: the farmer must know how to attach them and what power sources they use.
But cows aren’t the only animals you can keep an eye on. IoT greatly helps beekeepers prevent losses and increase productivity in their hives.
What exactly can these sensors tell us about bees? Plenty of things, as it turns out. IoT devices monitor bees’ weight, production, food inflow, and daily workflow. While beekeepers are notified if something goes wrong like bees needing food or extra space.
IoT system transmits health and threat status results to a cloud server, then uses this data to make prediction models and assess risks. In turn, beekeepers save on labor costs of manual inspections and open their beehives fewer times.
Examples: ApisProtect brings the power of advanced sensors and ML right into the bees hives. It monitors colonies’ state during the day or night, shows which colonies are healthy and which need attention, and help beekeepers make better decisions to keep their bees healthy.
Farm Management System
Before, we mostly talked about case-by-case solutions. But what if you need a unified system to manage them all in one place? Well, we have full-fledged farm management systems for that: you either choose ready-made solutions like FarmLogs or Cropio or build your own CRM system for convenient farming management with the use of advanced IoT technologies.
Such systems usually support various IoT farming sensors installed all over the farm, and they also have powerful analytical, accounting, and reporting features.
Examples: FarmLogs software is one of the top examples here. It is capable of automatically calculating the cost of production, managing day-to-day operations, documenting work for easy reporting and analysis, and even tracking marketing positions which brings farming to a whole new level.
As you see, there are lots of ways how to use IoT in agriculture, and a whole lot of ready-made software and hardware solutions to start doing it.
Smart farming brings tons of benefits to the business, it helps farmers to expand and develop their businesses, reduce the cost of labor, and make the process measurable and traceable.
Besides, with various sensors, drones, and tracking devices, farmers no longer need to have people out in the field all the time. In essence, there’s another modern way to ensure food safety and increase harvest quality.
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Vitaly Kuprenko is a technical writer at Cleveroad. It is a web and mobile app development company located in Eastern Europe. His mission is to provide people with interesting material about innovations in the world of IT.