AGRICULTURETHE APPLICATION OF IOT IN AGRICULTURE
Technological innovation in farming is nothing new, but farmers and agricultural organisations are now turning to the internet of things for greater production capabilities and meet the demands of the world’s ever-growing population.
ISSUES WHICH CAN BE SOLVED WITH INTERNET OF THINGS
The farming and agricultural industry relies on innovative ideas and technological advancements to help increase yields and better allocate resources. The late 19th century and the 20th century brought a number of mechanical innovations, like tractors and harvesters. Today, a driving force behind increased agricultural production at a lower cost is the Internet of Things (IoT), which leaves the door wide open for engineers looking to bring a smart farming solution or IoT agricultural sensor to market.
- LIVESTOCK MONITORING
- CONSERVATION MONITORING
- PLANT & SOIL MONITORING FOR PRECISION FARMING
- Autonomous tractors
Thanks to livestock monitoring, ranchers can use wireless IoT applications to gather data regarding the health, well-being, and location of their cattle. This information saves them money in two ways:
- It helps identify sick animals so they can be pulled from the herd, preventing the spread of disease.
- It lowers labor costs because ranchers can identify where their cattle are located.
There are some specific challenges when instrumenting livestock with sensors. Specifically, it’s quite difficult to outfit cattle with a collar. An alternate option is to use a wireless retrofitted bolus in the cow’s stomach, which can communicate via Bluetooth to an ear tag.
Another potential challenge ranchers face in implementing an IoT solution is selecting a wireless technology with enough battery power to last the lifespan of the animal. A beef cow, for example, lives 15 months or longer—and while some technologies that use a mesh network likely won’t manage that kind of battery life, Symphony Link can easily connect for that length of time without much infrastructure around the ranch to connect all of the devices.
While it doesn’t strictly fall under the heading of “agriculture,” monitoring for endangered rhinos is one of the more interesting animal IoT use cases out there. Knowing where rhinos are located in large game facilities can help conservationists protect them from poachers.
As one may imagine, collaring a rhino isn’t easy—and we’ve found it isn’t often successful. The collars get ripped off during bouts of fighting, and they’ve been known to cause behavioral changes in the rhinos. To overcome these obstacles, we are currently examining the idea of putting Symphony Link devices inside a rhinoceros’s horn.
PLANT & SOIL MONITORING FOR PRECISION FARMING
Monitoring plant and soil conditions is a simple use case—but it can lead to a fantastic return on investment for farmers. We’ve seen several great uses for agriculture IoT in this space:
- Sensing for soil moisture and nutrients.
- Controlling water usage for optimal plant growth.
- Determining custom fertilizer profiles based on soil chemistry.
- Determining the optimal time to plant and harvest.
- Reporting weather conditions.
Because the sensors in all the use cases above are close to the ground, using a mesh network can be difficult. There simply isn’t enough link budget. But star topologies like Symphony Link are an ideal fit, because one access point can talk to a number of sensors 20-100 square kilometers away.
While these generic case studies provide insight into how IoT in agriculture can be useful to the farming community, it’s also important to understand what IoT agriculture projects and applications have already been developed
Tractor manufacturers like John Deere and Case IH offer tractors to farmers that drive automatically. Self-driving tractors have been in the market for many years—even longer than semi-autonomous cars on the roads. One advantage of self-driving tractors is their ability to avoid reworking the same crop row by reducing the overlap to less than an inch. As a result, it takes fewer passes to cover each field, therefore saving farmers time and money. In addition, they can make very precise turns without the driver even touching the steering wheel.
Full autonomous tractors navigate using lasers that bounce signals off several mobile transponders located around the field. With supervised tractors, in contrast, a tractor is driven by a person, but followed by autonomous machinery. That machinery copies the steering and speed of the first tractor. This type of tractor offers the advantage of a reduction in human errors when performing tasks like spraying insecticide.
Benefits of IoT in manufacturing
In the future, the manufacturers must deal with more and more data and complex process cycles. Adopting to IoT technology will enable the manufacturers to elevate the performance, productivity, and efficiency to the next level.
- Better water use efficiency.
- Crop health imaging
- Condition monitoring of livestock.
- Reduced labour cost
Better water use efficiency
Precision farming is a process or a practice that makes the farming procedure more accurate and controlled for raising livestock and growing of crops. The use of IT and items like sensors, autonomous vehicles, automated hardware, control systems, robotics, etc in this approach are key components.
Precision agriculture in the recent years has become one of the most famous applications of IoT in the agricultural sector and a vast number of organizations have started using this technique around the world.
The products and services offered by IoT systems include soil moisture probes, VRI optimization, virtual optimizer PRO, and so on. VRI (Variable Rate Irrigation) optimization is a process that maximizes the profitability on irrigated crop fields with soil variability, thereby improving yields and increasing water use efficiency.
Crop health imaging
The benefits that the usage of drones brings to the table include, ease of use, time-saving, crop health imaging, integrated GIS mapping, and the ability to increase yields. The drone technology will give a high-tech makeover to the agriculture industry by making use of strategy and planning based on real-time data collection and processing.
The farmers through drones can enter the details of what field they want to survey. Select an altitude or ground resolution from which they what data of the fields. From the data collected by the drone, useful insights can be drawn on various factors such as plant counting and yield prediction, plant health indices, plant height measurement, canopy cover mapping, nitrogen content in wheat, drainage mapping, and so on. The drone collects data and images that are thermal, multispectral and visual during the flight and then lands at the same location it took off initially.
IoT applications help farmers to collect data regarding the location, well-being, and health of their cattle. This information helps them in identifying the condition of their livestock. Such as, finding animals that are sick so, that they can separate from the herd, preventing the spread of the disease to the entire cattle. The feasibility of ranchers to locate their cattle with the help of IoT based sensors helps in bringing down labour costs by a substantial amount.
One example of an IoT system in use by a company is JMB North America. Which is an organization that provides cow monitoring solutions to cattle producers? Out of the many solutions provided, one of the solutions is to help the cattle owners observe their cows that are pregnant and about to give birth. From them, a battery that is sensor powered is expelled when its water breaks. An information is then sent to the herd manager or the rancher. The sensor thus enables farmers will more focus.
Reduced labour cost – Smart Greenhouses
A smart greenhouse through IoT embedded systems not only monitors intelligently but also controls the climate, thereby eliminating any need for human intervention.
Different sensors that measure the environmental parameters according to the plant requirement are used for controlling the environment in a smart greenhouse. Then, a cloud server creates for remotely accessing the system when it connects using IoT.
Interesting IoT Agriculture Projects & Applications
- CROPX’S SOIL MONITORING SYSTEM
- TEMPUTECH’S WIRELESS SENSOR MONITORING
- CLAAS'S SMART EQUIPMENT
- PRECISIONHAWK’S DRONE DATA PLATFORM
CROPX’S SOIL MONITORING SYSTEM
Cropx produces hardware and software systems that measure moisture, temperature, and electrical conductivity in the soil. Their system tells farmers when and how much to irrigate.
TEMPUTECH’S WIRELESS SENSOR MONITORING
TempuTech saw a need for increased safety in agricultural storage. Silos and grain elevators can be dangerous places, with conveyor belts that can catch fire and dust buildup that can be explosive. Using sensors to track hazards is of massive value. With GE’s Equipment Insight, TempuTech created a way to connect wireless sensors and help farmers make sense of the data from their silos and grain elevators. Using this platform, manufacturers can establish baseline performance norms and set alert and alarm conditions related to temperature, vibration, humidity, and other conditions
CLAAS’S SMART EQUIPMENT
CLAAS is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of agricultural engineering equipment. Farmers can operate CLAAS equipment on autopilot, receive advice on how to improve crop flow and minimize grain losses, or automatically optimize equipment performance. The company is partnering with 365FarmNet, a program that enables farmers to manage their entire agricultural holding on a computer or mobile device. The system collects data and makes meaningful use of it through field mapping, fertilization planning, nutrient balance, and calendar and planning programs.
PRECISIONHAWK’S DRONE DATA PLATFORM
PrecisionHawk has created an autonomous UAV that collects high-quality data through a series of sensors that are used for the surveying, mapping, and imaging of agricultural land. It’s essentially a drone that performs in-flight observations and monitoring. Before sending the drone into the air, farmers tell it what field to survey and choose a ground resolution or altitude. Each drone can detect weather conditions using artificial intelligence, so it chooses the best flight path to take based on things like wind speed or air pressure. During the flight, the drone collects visual, thermal, and multispectral imagery; then it lands in the same place it took off. (Now that’s a cool and useful Internet of Things farming tool!)
LEADING PROVIDERS OF INTERNET OF THINGS SOLUTIONS FOR THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR
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