Nov 3


According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 793 million people still suffer from chronic hunger. It has been predicted that to keep pace with population growth, food production must increase by 70% by 2050, but as production increases, so will pollution and the demand for fresh water supplies. While the planet is still capable of supporting such a massive increase in food production, smarter and more efficient farming methods are required in order to increase crop yields and reduce water consumption, fertilizers, pesticides, and impact on natural habitats and the environment. This is where the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Agriculture can help.

Smart Agriculture enables farmers around the world to farm more productively and accurately while helping to cut pollution and save on resources. Whether it’s for rearing livestock (pastoral), arable farming or high tech cultivation under glass, IoT can vastly improve the way farming is done. By deploying remote sensors to monitor soil quality, environmental and weather conditions, water levels in rivers and storage tanks, crop and livestock conditions, and much more, it is now possible for farmers to gain a better insight into their whole production environment end-to-end.

According to analyst firm Market and Markets, the smart agriculture market is expected to reach USD 18.45 Billion in 2022 and to grow at a compound annual grow rate of 13.8% during the period 2016 to 2022[1].

Everything from planning, soil preparation, planting, spraying, harvesting, transporting and pollution control can be improved using a combination of connected devices, sensors, automated machinery, application software and IoT platforms. Data from sensors can be continually gathered, processed and analysed using smart applications to provide critical information to farmers about irrigation, soil condition, feeds, growth rates, crop quality, yield prediction, and readiness for harvesting. Drones are even being used to gather data on crop conditions without having to spoil crops to access them. Locating, counting and monitoring of cattle can be done across huge areas without having to do this manually by fitting them with special high tech collars.

Modern farm machinery such as tractors and harvesters are often fitted with global positioning systems (GPS), additional sensors and on-board computers which can enable more accurate ploughing, fertilizing, seeding and spraying. These systems can now be linked together over a radio network which allows data to be gathered centrally and processed by a management platform. By linking these and other systems together, national databases can be set up to store historical data which can be analysed using ‘big data’ analytics techniques to provide useful statistics such as crop yields, condition and environmental data. As a result, improvement guidelines for farmers can be created and disease prediction, control and prevention all become more effective.

IoT is changing the face of farming and without connected devices, platforms and smart applications, meeting the growing demand for global food production might prove to be an impossible challenge.

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