Challenges of IoT in agriculture: In depth analysis

challenges of iot in agriculture

IoT is an interesting topic to write. Specially, IoT in agriculture. Agriculture is a major part of economy of most of the countries. To solve different problems in agriculture, IoT can play an important role. But, challenges of IoT in agriculture are a lot. We have covered 5 challenges of IoT in agriculture. We have also discussed about how to overcome challenges of IoT in agriculture. Let’s hop into it.

Challenges of IoT in agriculture

Here are the 5 challenges of IoT in agriculture.

Challenge 1: Farmers will find it difficult

Farmers use ancient methods to do their farming. They are doing this for a long period of time. As farming is the oldest job of human history, people use the same procedure of farming ages to ages. Now, if we introduce a new method to them, they will find it difficult. Most of the farmers will not adopt it. They have to first learn the technology and then apply it. In industries, we face some challenges too. Despite a shared belief in the potential of the IoT, industry leaders and consumers are facing barriers to adopt IoT technology more widely. Mike Farley argued in Forbes. While IoT solutions appeal to early adopters, they either lack interoperability or a clear use case for end-users.

A study by Ericsson regarding the adoption of IoT among Danish companies suggests that many struggle “to pinpoint exactly where the value of IoT lies for them”. Kevin Lonergan at Information Age, a business-technology magazine, has referred to the terms surrounding the IoT as a “terminology zoo”. The lack of clear terminology is not “useful from a practical point of view” and a “source of confusion for the end user”. 

Some history

A company operating in the IoT space could be working in anything related to sensor technology, networking, embedded systems, or analytics. According to Lonergan, the term IoT was coined before smart phones, tablets, and devices. There is a long list of terms with varying degrees of overlap and technological convergence:

  • IoT (Internet of things),
  • Internet of everything (IoE),
  • Internet of Goods (Supply Chain),
  • industrial Internet, 
  • pervasive computing,
  • pervasive sensing, 
  • ubiquitous computing, 
  • cyber-physical systems (CPS), 
  • wireless sensor networks (WSN), 
  • smart objects, 
  • digital twin,
  • cyberobjects or avatars, 
  • cooperating objects, 
  • machine to machine (M2M),
  • ambient intelligence (AmI), 
  • Operational technology (OT),
  • information technology (IT).

Regarding IIoT (industrial sub-field of IoT) the Industrial Internet Consortium’s Vocabulary Task Group has created a “common and reusable vocabulary of terms” to ensure “consistent terminology” across publications issued by the Industrial Internet Consortium. IoT One has created an IoT Terms Database including a New Term Alert to be notified when a new term is published. As of March 2017, this database aggregates 711 IoT-related terms, while keeping material “transparent and comprehensive.

Challenge 2: It needs a lot of investments

IoT devices won’t come cheap. They can be costly. Farmers have to buy those IoT devices and then place them in suitable places.  It needs time and investment. It will increase the cost of the farmers. According to 2018 study, 70–75% of IoT deployments remained in the pilot or prototype stage. They unable to reach scale due in part to a lack of business planning. Studies on IoT literature and projects show a disproportionate prominence of technology in the IoT projects. These are often driven by technological interventions rather than business model innovation.

Challenge 3: Internet connectivity issues in remote areas

In remote areas, internet connectivity is a major issue. Many remote areas don’t have even internet. As a result, many of the farmers will not use these IoT devices. Some remote areas have very weak internet connectivity. It will not help them to place IoT devices in their farms.

Natural disasters are a huge issue too. Natural disasters disrupt internet access in profound ways. This is important—not only for telecommunication companies who own the networks and the businesses who use them, but for emergency crew and displaced citizens as well. The situation is worse when hospitals or other buildings necessary to disaster response lose their connection. Knowledge from studying past internet disruptions by natural disasters could be put to use in planning or recovery. Additionally, because of both natural and man-made disasters, studies in network resiliency are now being conducted to prevent large-scale outages.

One way natural disasters impact internet connection is by damaging end sub-networks (subnets). A study on local networks after Hurricane Katrina found that 26% of subnets within the storm coverage were unreachable. At Hurricane Katrina’s peak intensity, almost 35% of networks in Mississippi were without power, while around 14% of Louisiana’s networks were disrupted. Of those unreachable subnets, 73% were disrupted for four weeks or longer and 57% were at “network edges where important emergency organizations such as hospitals and government agencies are mostly located”.

Extensive infrastructure damage and inaccessible areas were two explanations for the long delay in returning service. The company Cisco has revealed a Network Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV). It is a truck that makes portable communications possible for emergency responders despite traditional networks being disrupted.

Challenge 4: Weather can damage IoT devices

Farmers have to put IoT devices in several places or may be in the open field. These devices need electricity and internet connectivity to work properly. Hazardous weather like heavy raining could easily damage this kind of devices. If the devices have some kind of shield or protection, then it’s fine. But, then it will be costly.

Oppositely, the devices can have impact to the environment too. A concern regarding Internet-of-things technologies pertains to the environmental impacts of the manufacture, use, and eventual disposal of all these semiconductor-rich devices. Modern electronics are replete with a wide variety of heavy metals and rare-earth metals, as well as highly toxic synthetic chemicals. This makes them extremely difficult to properly recycle. Electronic components are often incinerated or placed in regular landfills. Furthermore, the human and environmental cost of mining the rare-earth metals that are integral to modern electronic components continues to grow. This leads to societal questions concerning the environmental impacts of IoT devices over its lifetime.

Challenge 5: Electricity problem

Many rural areas have poor electricity connection. So, they face many load shedding. As result, IoT devices will not be effective. The results or data gathered from those devices will be faulty. There are data challenges too. It needs lots of storage to gather data. This means those storage devices need heavy electricity. A challenge for producers of IoT applications is to clean, process and interpret the vast amount of data which sensors gather. There is a solution regarding analytics of the information. The solution is Wireless Sensor Networks. These networks share data among sensor nodes. Distributed system use these nodes for the analytics of the sensory data.

Another challenge is the storage of this bulk data. Depending on the application, there could be high data acquisition requirements. These lead to high storage requirements. Currently the Internet is already responsible for 5% of the total energy generated, and a “daunting challenge to power” IoT devices to collect and even store data still remains.

We have discussed 5 challenges of IoT in agriculture. We should keep the challenges in mind. But it is possible to overcome them. Hope, people will adopt this IoT technologies soon.

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