When we think of IoT applications, we typically consider the connected devices that have affected nearly every aspect of our day-to-day lives. The Internet of Things has transformed the world in which we live – from health and fitness to home automation, connected cars to smart cities, and even some rather strange applications (see that post here). From a business perspective, most are familiar with IoT in the healthcare, retail, and energy sectors. What many don’t realize is that the agriculture industry is applying IoT technology to combat the increasing demand for feeding a population that is expected to reach 9.6 billion globally by 2050.
So how are farmers across the world leveraging connected devices and automation to improve production output and create more efficient operations? Let’s take a look at Smart Agriculture.
Large farm owners are leveraging IoT agriculture sensors to collect a variety of data from animals. In addition to necessary information like location and activity, these sensors also track important health metrics like temperature, health, and nutrition. In doing so, IoT applications help livestock farmers lower labor costs by allowing them to quickly locate animals in multi-acre farms, as well as quickly identify and separate sick animals from the herd, preventing the spread of disease. JMB North America is taking this a step further with a sensor that monitors pregnant cows and alerts the farmer when calving is occurring, resulting in reduced mortality and post-partum complications. Pretty cool, huh?
Like managing livestock, it’s often tricky for crop farmers to obtain the data needed across hundreds, even thousands, of acres. Conventional methods of soil sampling leave little to be desired now that IoT applications have come into play. Soil sensors located strategically around the properties can alert farmers to changing conditions that might hinder crop production or harvest. Since moisture and acidity can make or break a harvest, these sensors are helping farmers show a better ROI on million-dollar investments, as well as giving them critical data on:
- Moisture and nutrient monitoring
- Water usage and optimal plant growth
- Fertilization and soil composition
- Weather conditions and reports
Agriculture is one of the major sectors incorporating drones to enhance various practices. Both ground-based and aerial drones are used by farmers to conduct crop health imaging, GIS mapping, surveying of farmland, and gathering in-flight data. This data can then be used to gain insight into plant health, yield prediction, and even drainage mapping. Leveraging drones to create snapshots of critical data not only saves time but also reduces dependency on personnel and proprietary tools that conventional methods employ, giving agriculture organizations a high-tech way to remain competitive in the market.
Where do we go from here?
Smart agriculture is likely the precursor to even greater use of IoT in the world of farming. As farms become more connected, the agriculture industry will be able to produce better quality crops and livestock in a more efficient manner. BI Intelligence predicts that “IoT device installations in the agriculture world will increase from 30 million in 2015 to 75 million in 2020, for a compound annual growth rate of 20%.”