IoT in Smart Farming
What is IoT? The Simple Explanation
IoT to say in simple terms is – ‘Internet controlling Things’. IoT devices are ‘smarter’ and technically enabled to gather and transfer data over a network.
The technical word ‘Internet of Things’ was coined in the year 1999 by Kevin Ashton, co-founder and Executive Director of the MIT Auto ID center. Ashton made use of IoT term while he was discussing about assigning Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) labels to inventory goods to keep track of each inventory element in hand and thereby manage the supply and demand for inventory items in a smarter way.
Till now the Internet of Things (IoT) has created a great positive impact in various industries such as Manufacturing sector, Transportation, Energy, Retail and much more. The Agriculture Industry isn’t an exception to this. Recent statistics explore that the global population is about to reach 9.8 billion by 2040. And to provide food to this enormous population, the agriculture sector has to embrace the Internet of Things to increase productivity.
The present agriculture environment is facing many challenges which include but not restricted to extreme cold / warm weather conditions, water scarcity, degraded water and soil quality, shortage of labor. IoT addresses these challenges with its smartest technology to arrive improved digital solutions to meet the surplus food demand for the growing population.
How IoT in agriculture took its Footprints?
It’s been long since the sensors were made to work for agriculture operations. But the problem with the old-style approach of sensor technology was that the sensors used to store the data in their attached memory and later on we have to transfer the data and use it. It was not possible to get live data from the sensors/actuators.
With the introduction of Industrial IoT in agriculture, far more innovative sensors are being developed and operated. These technically advanced sensors can be connected to cloud via satellite network, so that real time live data can be obtained from the cloud instantly whenever needed ,to take effective agricultural decisions for achieving higher crop yield, better quality production, and save costs in agricultural processes.
Applications of IoT in Agriculture
Right from the period of Industrial revolution which happened in 18th century, automation dominated the various Industry process by handling sophisticated tasks in an effective way thereby increasing the production. With rising demands and lack of labor force across the world, Agribots (Agriculture Robots) are starting to gain consideration among farmers.
Many heavy ploughing equipment used in agriculture, such as tractor, harvester and many more can be automated and controlled from the comfort of the home through GPS is a boon to farmers. These integrated automatic machines are smart enough and provide highly accurate results. These robots can self-adjust themselves if any terrain is on their way of operation preventing operational delay and reduces cost involved in the farming process. By this way, many labor-intensive tasks can be simplified.
The mild process of picking the ripe fruits and vegetables can be automated using Agribots operating 24/7. An amalgamation of digital image processing and robotics is used by these smart devices to identify the fruits at the appropriate ripen stage and perform a smart pick, thereby guaranteeing the quality.
Agriculture is one of the major industrial area to incorporate drones. Drones are equipped with sensors and cameras for imaging, mapping and analyzing the farms. There are two types of Drones- Ground-based drones and Aerial/ Flying Drones. Ground Drones analyze the fields on wheels. Aerial or flying Drones can fly, automatically through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems. Aerial Drones work in coordination with sensors and GPS, which can be controlled remotely. From the data collected by drones, inferences can be made regarding crop health, irrigation and water spraying, plant monitoring and yield forecast and much more.
Drones can also be made to carry large payloads of pesticides or insecticides and can be sprayed more efficiently at reduced cost than manual spraying by a person or using a vehicle. A single manned aircraft can spray upwards of 2,000 acres a day, which is remarkable efficiency achieved through automation when compared to the traditional spraying process.
IoT based remote sensing utilizes sensors placed along the farmsteads, which collects the data on various parameters like crop growth condition, humidity of air, soil moisture which are then transmitted to farmer’s analytical dashboard to take appropriate actions.
Sensors placed along the farms monitor the crops for the variations in light and humidity of the soil, shape and size of the crops. Any irregularity if detected by the sensors, is analyzed and sent as notification to the farmers to take required action. Hence, remote sensing can help to prevent the spread of diseases in an earlier phase by keeping an eye on the growth of crops most of the times.
The data collected by the sensors placed on the farms can be analyzed to determine soil quality, its nutrient value, drainage capacity or acidity, which enables to adjust the amount of water required for irrigation. This data can also be used to take knowledgeable decisions of opt crop selection for the soil condition being analyzed.
The Internet of Things has truly improved many industries by providing data collection, real-time insight to take effective decisions through low cost sensors and IoT platform technology. Practicing smart agriculture provides many benefits like increased production, water conservation, remote monitoring, less operational costs any many more. Smart agriculture concept is not only the innovative farming method of today, it is the vibrant solution to the growing concern of the global population’s food consumption and environmental impacts.
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