IoT (internet of things) is one the trendiest things to talk about future technology. Everything will be connected to internet. This is the main concept of IoT. But, what about IoT in agriculture? Is it possible to implement IoT in agriculture? It is possible. We have to adopt latest technology to improve our lives. In this case, IoT comes handy. We can see the impact of IoT in agriculture if implemented properly. It is not easy to implement new things on existing platform. But, for greater future, it is necessary.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the use cases of IoT in agriculture.
Use cases of IoT in agriculture
There are many applications of IoT in agriculture. We will talk about some of the use cases.
1. Smart crop harvesting
Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper. On smaller farms with minimal mechanization, harvesting is the most labor-intensive activity of the growing season. On large mechanized farms, harvesting utilizes the most expensive and sophisticated farm machinery, such as the combine harvester.
Process automation has increased the efficiency of both the seeding and harvesting process. For instance, specialized harvesting equipment utilizing conveyor belts to mimic gentle gripping and mass transport replaces the manual task of removing each seedling by hand. The term “harvesting” in general usage may include immediate post harvest handling, including cleaning, sorting, packing, and cooling. Sensors can detect ripe crops. In other words, zones for ripe crops. Thus, farmers can easily select the zone and start harvesting. It is more time saving and also less laborious. IoT can be implemented in process automation too. The automatic conveyor belts mechanism can have preset values for different crops. Farmers can check the logs remotely whether it is correct or not.
2. Automatic monitoring of climate parameters
We can implement many sensors like dust, water, humidity, CO2 etc. These parameters help farmers to check the climate and act accordingly. The monitoring process can be easily accessed via internet. It can compare data with other country data. After that, this comparison can help farmers understand better about their crops. In August 2018, Toyota Tsusho began a partnership with Microsoft to create fish farming tools using the Microsoft Azure application suite for IoT technologies related to water management. Developed in part by researchers from Kindai University, the water pump mechanisms use artificial intelligence to count the number of fish on a conveyor belt, analyze the number of fish, and deduce the effectiveness of water flow from the data the fish provide. In addition, specific computer programs used in the process fall under the Azure Machine Learning and the Azure IoT Hub platforms.
Intra and inter-field variability may result from a number of factors. These include climatic conditions (hail, drought, rain, etc.), soils (texture, depth, nitrogen levels), cropping practices (no-till farming). Permanent indicators—chiefly soil indicators—provide farmers with information about the main environmental constants. Point indicators allow them to track a crop’s status, i.e., to see whether diseases are developing, if the crop is suffering from water stress, nitrogen stress, or lodging, whether it has been damaged by ice and so on. Soil apparent Electrical Conductivity is a chief parameter that can provide a measure of the spatial differences associated with soil physical and chemical properties, which for paddy soil may be a measure of soil suitability for crop growth, its water demand and its productivity
3. Smart farming
Plants need gentle care to grow. They need proper light, water, soil, humidity to grow. Different crops have different needs. So, to make sure the plant grow well, we need to give it a proper care. IoT can come handy in this process. IoT devices will collect weather parameters from sensors and act according to the need of the plant. Farmers can monitor the data regularly.
- Precision agriculture (PA), satellite farming or site specific crop management (SSCM) is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops. The goal of precision agriculture research is to define a decision support system (DSS) for whole farm management with the goal of optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources.
- Precision agriculture has also been enabled by unmanned aerial vehicles like the DJI Phantom which are relatively inexpensive and can be operated by novice pilots. These agricultural drones can be equipped with hyperspectral or RGB cameras to capture many images of a field that can be processed using photogrammetric methods to create orthophotos and NDVI maps. These drones are capable of capturing several metric points of the land that can later be used to deliver proper water and fertilization to crops.
4. Insect detector
Insects can damage crops easily. A pest is any living organism, whether animal, plant or fungus, which is invasive or troublesome to plants or animals, human or human concerns, livestock, or human structures. It is a loose concept, as an organism can be a pest in one setting but beneficial, domesticated or acceptable in another. The term “plant pest” has a specific definition in terms of the International Plant Protection Convention and phytosanitary measures worldwide. A pest is any species, strain or biotype of plant, animal, or pathogenic agent injurious to plants or plant products. Plants may be considered pests themselves if an invasive species. These pests can be dangerous and can affect the production. So, to prevent them we can put some sensors out there. They will detect unusual activity and send request to farmers.
5. Crop inventory management
Inventory management can be hard. Is my storage out of space? This question may hunt farmers a lot. They have to sell their crops before their storage becomes out of space. Here comes the solution, IoT. Sensors measuring weight, length etc. can be handy in this case. The sensors detect the space in the storage by collecting data. Farmers can have those data in his mobile/desktop. He/she will sell crops when time will come.
6. Smart cattle monitoring
We can implement cattle monitoring system by placing sensors on them. This will allow farmers to locate their cattle. They can take proper care of their cattle by feeding, cleaning etc remotely by placing mechanical sensors.
7. Beehives connected to internet
There are many honey collectors who rely on their ancient way to collect honey from beehives. It is risky but they have mastered the skill. We can implement IoT devices to monitor movement of bees. We can collect those data and then schedule our task to collect honey.
Now, let’s take a look at the impact of IoT in agriculture.
Impact of IoT in agriculture
1. Accuracy in farming
Precision agriculture is a key component of the third wave of modern agricultural revolutions. The first agricultural revolution was the increase of mechanized agriculture, from 1900 to 1930. Each farmer produced enough food to feed about 26 people during this time. The 1960s prompted the Green Revolution with new methods of genetic modification, which led to each farmer feeding about 155 people. It is expected that by 2050, the global population will reach about 9.6 billion, and food production must effectively double from current levels in order to feed every mouth. In addition, with new technological advancements in the agricultural revolution of precision farming, each farmer will be able to feed 265 people on the same acreage. IoT devices can increase the accuracy in case of harvesting, gathering crops and keeping them safe. This accuracy proves a great impact of IoT in agriculture.
2. Less damage of crops
IoT devices ensure safety of crops. Many crops can be in great danger due to lack of proper scientific care. Let’s see the history first. The first wave of the precision agricultural revolution came in the forms of satellite and aerial imagery, weather prediction, variable rate fertilizer application, and crop health indicators. The second wave aggregates the machine data for even more precise planting, topographical mapping, and soil data.
Precision agriculture aims to optimize field-level management with regard to:
- crop science: by matching farming practices more closely to crop needs (e.g. fertilizer inputs);
- environmental protection: by reducing environmental risks and footprint of farming (e.g. limiting leaching of nitrogen);
- economics: by boosting competitiveness through more efficient practices (e.g. improved management of fertilizer usage and other inputs).
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3. Managed crop inventory
Inventory management is a bit hustle for farmers. They work all day. Then, they have to look after their storage. IoT solves this problem by proper placing sensors and gathering data. Now, farmers can easily focus on their crops rather than the tedious works in store management.
4. High Production
IoT devices help to increase the production of crops. As sensors are implemented to ensure proper care for crops, it helps plants to grow quicker and healthier. As a result, production improves a lot. And, of course, it puts a great smile on farmer’s face. One third of the global population still relies on agriculture for a living. Although more advanced precision farming technologies require large upfront investments, farmers in developing countries are benefiting from mobile technology. This service assists farmers with mobile payments and receipts to improve efficiencies. For example, 30,000 farmers in Tanzania use mobile phones for contracts, payments, loans, and business organization.
The economic and environmental benefits of precision agriculture have also been confirmed in China, but China is lagging behind countries such as Europe and the United States because the Chinese agricultural system is characterized by small-scale family-run farms, which makes the adoption rate of precision agriculture lower than other countries. Therefore, China is trying to better introduce precision agriculture technology into its own country and reduce some risks, paving the way for China’s technology to develop precision agriculture in the future.
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5. Healthy cattle and crops
We have already said earlier, crops can have proper scientific care if we use IoT devices. For this reason, crops become healthier. They are also tasty. On the other hand, cattle can be healthier too. IoT devices are placed to monitor cattle movement and their food habit. As a result, farmers can use them to generate much production. Undoubtedly, We can say that, this IoT solution creates a great impact in agriculture.
In conclusion, we have discussed different use cases of IoT in agriculture. We believe that if farmers adopt IoT fast, they can inspect a rapid growth in their production. We have also discussed the impact of IoT in agriculture. Now, the main question is, “Will farmers adopt IoT?”