Nowadays, farmers are equipped with Agritechs which refers to applications of technology in agriculture to avoid agricultural production loss and in order to be able to indulge in complicated food production due to extreme weather, deteriorating soil, drylands, and collapsing ecosystems.
Using modern information and communication technologies including sensors, software, connectivity, location, robotics, and data analytics to increase productivity both quantitatively and qualitatively is called smart farming. The term, IoT (The Internet of Things) is used to refer to drawing data from things and transmitting it over the internet. IoT collects and processes data in a repetitive cycle that provides farmers with observations, diagnostics, decisions, and a course of action. IoT enables farmers to have better measure and control growth factors, like irrigation and the use of fertilizers on a farm. It could also provide them with better control over the process of raising livestock, making the process more predictable and efficient. In 2020, the market share for IoT in agriculture reached 5.6 billion dollars, 6.2 billion dollars in 2021, and this is expected to triple by 2025, reaching 15.3 billion dollars.
The Benefits of IoT
- Collects Tons of Data Through Smart Sensors
Soil, water, light, humidity, and temperature sensors provide tons of data to control and track weather conditions, soil quality, crop growth progress, or cattle’s health so that the farmer could stay on top of the state of the business in general.
- Lower Production Risks and Better Product Distribution
Having control over the internal processes would enable one to predict the output of the production. Farmers are sure their product would not lie around unsold when they know exactly how many crops they are going to harvest.
- Cost Management and Waste Reduction
By having increased control over the production via variable sensors and monitoring any anomalies in crop growth or livestock health, farmers can avoid the risks of loss.
- The Automated Process Leads to Increased Business Efficiency
Smart devices enable farmers to automate multiple processes within the production cycle such as irrigation, fertilizing, and pest control.
- Optimal Quality and Volumes in Production
Higher standards of crop quality and growth capacity are met through automated control over the production process.
Obviously, all of these benefits lead to higher revenue.
Different Uses of IoT in Agriculture
- Climate Conditions
A combination of various smart farming sensors can monitor climate conditions and keep farmers informed. They are located across the field, collecting enough data from the environment and providing measurements. Farmers can map the climate conditions, choose the appropriate crops, and finally improve their production capacity.
IoT sensors provide farmers with accurate real-time information on greenhouse conditions such as soil condition, humidity, temperature, and lighting.
Like weather stations, crop management devices are placed in the field to collect data from temperature to overall crop health even from each crop individually. Farmers can monitor crop growth and any anomalies. Consequently, they can prevent diseases or infestations which are harmful to the yield.
There are IoT agricultural sensors that can be attached to animals usually in collar tag form to inform farmers about stock health, well-being, log performance, and physical location. Some sensors can deliver temperature, health, activity, and nutrition data on each animal to identify sick animals and help farmers avoid contamination. There are also some drones for real-time cattle tracking that reduce staffing expenses.
- Precision Farming
It is one of the most effective applications of IoT in agriculture. Farmers can collect a wide variety of data on every facet of the field such as soil condition, temperature, lighting, humidity, co2 levels, and pest infections. Furthermore, farmers can reduce expenses and raise healthier crops by estimating the sufficient amount of water, fertilizers, and pesticides to be used. It can save up to 50% irrigation water and reduce fertilizer usage due to overwatering.
Drones are known as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and are the most reliable advancements in this field. They are better equipped than airplanes and satellites due to their multispectral image analyses in monitoring crop health. They can also perform a vast number of tasks such as planting crops, fighting pests, spraying, and crop monitoring. Using drones is 6 times more effective than human labor.
Certain Challenges of IoT Are As Follows:
- The Hardware: You need to choose the proper sensors according to the types of information you want to collect and the result you want to achieve. The crucial factor affecting the health and yield of the product is the quality of your sensors.
- The Brain: The collected data is not enough itself without data analysis which is the core of smart agricultural solutions. You need to have powerful data analysis capabilities and apply predictive algorithms to give actionable insights.
- The Maintenance: The sensors placed in the field are likely to be easily damaged. So, be sure that your devices are durable and easy to maintain to reduce costs.
- Mobility: The information should be accessible on websites, smartphones, or desktop computers for a farm manager and autonomous devices should have enough wireless range to communicate with each other and the central server.
- The Infrastructure: Providing smart farming applications with a solid internal infrastructure helps them perform well. Besides, the internal systems must be secure to avoid breaking into, stealing, or taking control of them.
- Connectivity: Agricultural facilities need to be connected to be reliable enough to overcome bad weather conditions and other problems. Nowadays, technologies like 5G and space-based internet can be the solution to this problem.
- Data Collection Frequency: There is a huge quantity of information from different sections of the farm due to using smart agricultural applications. The challenge lies in delivering and share this data safely and in a timely fashion while ensuring optimal data collection from various facets of the field.
- Data Security: There is an increased number of potential security loopholes for data theft and hacking attacks. User passwords or remote access authentications are needed to avoid this problem.