Updated: Mar 8, 2020
With the Internet of Things (IoT) being adopted faster than ever before, you will already be used to seeing connected devices in your everyday life. From smart speakers, health and fitness devices, home automation solutions and automotive systems to smart cities and smart industrial systems.
Surely then, with all this technology becoming common place in every possible industry, it is only right we integrate our farming and agricultural industries into the all seeing, all knowing cloud too? Well, this is already happening on a mass scale and almost every corner of farming touched by IoT has seen tremendous improvements in efficiency, yield and profits.
Seeing new technology in the farming world is nothing new. The industry has gone through radical changes over the years, with the introduction of ever smarter agricultural plant machinery to better weather forecasting, more accurate livestock tracking and more precisely controlled artificial environments all working to improve the industry.
In this article, we look at exactly how the next generation of IoT sensors can be integrated into modern farms and examine their benefits. So if you are looking for the next competitive edge and are thinking of investing into 'Smart Farming' technology, this one's for you.
So what exactly is Smart Farming?
There are many ways to refer to modern agriculture. For example, AgriTech refers to the application of technology in agriculture in general. Smart Farming, on the other hand, is generally used to refer to the development and adoption of IoT solutions in farming applications.
Now Smart Farming is nowhere near as popular as its consumer cousin... yet! That said, the smart agricultural market is still just as vibrant and dynamic with BI Intelligence stating that the market is currently growing at approximately 20% year on year, predicting that the number of IoT installations will hit 75 million later this year (2020).
Such a budding and affluent market creates ample opportunity for businesses to get involved and develop new systems early that create a positive impact and leave their stamp on the future of farming practice and the legacy of being part of a movement that created a completely new way of working.
So you now know what IoT means, what Smart Farming is and that it will definitely form a critical part of the future of farming. I suppose the next thing to think about though is what are the benefits?
The benefits of IoT and how it's shaping the future of farming
You will already be aware of how much technology has changed people's everyday life. The truth is, IoT technology WILL have the same level of impact on how we farm in the future. Currently, there are 5 predominant ways IoT is being used to influence agricultural practices:
Tons & tons & tons of data, collected by smart agriculture sensors, e.g. weather conditions, soil quality, crop’s growth progress or cattle’s health. This data can be used to track the state of your business in general as well as staff performance, equipment efficiency, etc.
Increased business efficiency through process automation. By using smart devices, you can automate multiple processes across your production cycle, e.g. irrigation, fertilizing, or pest control.
Enhanced product quality and volumes. Achieve better control over the production process and maintain higher standards of crop quality and growth capacity through automation.
Better control over the internal processes and, as a result, lower production risks. The ability to foresee the output of your production allows you to plan for better product distribution. If you know exactly how much crops you are going to harvest, you can make sure your product won’t lie around unsold.
Cost management and waste reduction thanks to the increased control over the production, being able to see any anomalies in the crop growth or livestock health, you will be able to mitigate the risks of losing your yield.
When you bring all of these factors together, it eventually leads to higher yield and higher revenue.
So now we have highlighted the biggest benefits of IoT technology in agriculture, lets take a look at some real life Smart Farming applications at work:
There are many types of IoT sensors for agriculture as well as IoT applications in agriculture in general:
By in large the most common IoT agricultural devices used today are weather stations. Combining several smart farming sensors, these stations take live weather data and feed it back to the cloud, allowing climate patterns to be mapped and informed choices to be made surround the appropriate crops to grow, any additional car those crops may need and best steps to maximise yield.
Weather stations aren't just great for gathering weather information outdoors. When you place them in a Greenhouse, the data collected can be used to control other sensors to automatically control the climate, ventilation, irrigation and lighting levels.
Another key player in the smart agricultural team is the soil probe. This little but powerful device provides real time analysis of soil conditions such as moisture level, electrical conductivity, temperature and precipitation to leaf water potential. This gives a really good and detailed insight into your crops health and allows you to make changes as early as possible when things decline.
Cattle monitoring and management
Just like crop monitoring, there are IoT agriculture sensors that can be attached to the animals on a farm to monitor their health and log performance. This works similarly to IoT devices for petcare. These devices can be used to deliver temperature, health, activity, and nutrition insights on each individual cow as well as collective information about the herd
End-to-end farm management systems
A more complex approach to IoT products in agriculture can be represented by the so-called farm productivity management systems. They usually include a number of agriculture IoT devices and sensors, installed on the premises as well as a powerful dashboard with analytical capabilities and in-built accounting/reporting features.
This offers remote farm monitoring capabilities and allows you to streamline most of the business operations. In addition to the listed IoT agriculture use cases, some prominent opportunities include vehicle tracking (or even automation), storage management, logistics, etc.
So, that's it, you're armed with all the information you need to know what 'Smart Farming' is and the role it plays in the future of agriculture. Ready to take the next step in making your farm smarter and more efficient? If so get in touch today. Pride Solutions Derby is a leading supplier of IoT smart systems that works tirelessly and always goes the extra mile to ensure the system we provide meets your exact and specific needs. No other farm would ever have a system the same as yours!
To receive a professional consultation from one of our experts, get in touch with us today by visiting our homepage here.