Agriculture has witnessed different innovations and technological developments in the past 100 years. Unlike, traditional farming methods that relied completely on manual labor, modern agriculture is automated and smart. The use of disruptive technologies like the Internet of Things has made farming more precise, sophisticated, and productive. The advent of IoT in the agriculture sector has enabled the emergence of various new farming practices like precision farming, digital farming, and smart farming..
Even though smart farming is not a brand new concept, its overall impact on agriculture business cannot be underestimated. It is a revolutionary farming technique that is powered by modern information and communication technologies (ICTs). It incorporates the use of different sensors that helps a farmer to monitor its farming equipment, tools, and the whole farm itself.
Smart farming is helping farmers to counter different challenges associated with agriculture and allow them to increase the quality and total yield of their crops. Different applications of IoT is allowing farmers to maintain their crop without much inconvenience. Some of these applications are:
Soil and Crop Management:
The growth of crops depends on different key factors like light intensity, humidity, soil quality, moisture, and temperature. These factors are to be studied by farmers in order to determine the crop that they can easily grow in their field and to monitor its growth in later stages.
IoT lowers the cost of such studies and helps farmers in different stages of cultivation. Sensors placed in the field collect essential data for crop production and share it directly with the farmers. Farmers can use this data to track total nitrogen content, pH value, and moisture of soil to track its effectiveness for a particular type of crop. Based on this information, a farmer can add manures and fertilizers to increase soil nutrition.
Through predictive analytics, a farmer can also take preventive steps to avoid crop failure and plan further steps to increase total crop yield and quality. With accurate planning, a farmer can optimize its crop treatment procedures to enhance the crop production rate of its farm.
Smart Pest Control:
Detecting and removing pests from crops has always been one of the major challenges in farming. Insects and rodents feed on the efforts of farmers and damage the crops considerably. Even though farmers use pesticides to kill pests, its wide implementation can cause different environments and health associated implications. The high concentration of pesticides intoxicates the crop with harmful chemicals that can cause gruesome diseases to the consumer.
IoT infused smart pest control system assist farmers to protect their crops from insects and rodents. Sensors and cameras detect pests and alert farmers about their presence in the fields. It can also predict the probable attack on the farm by a large swarm of insects based on their breeding patterns. The IoT system can calculate the exact amount of pesticide that not only would be enough to avoid infestation but at the same time eliminate the possibility of crop adulteration. In this way, a farmer can get rid of pests while perfectly maintaining the health and nutrition of the crops.
Climate Monitoring and Smart Greenhouses:
Climate change affects agriculture adversely. Since it plays a crucial role in different stages of cultivation, it is essential for farmers to monitor weather patterns. By connecting to an IoT powered weather station, farmers can get real-time insights about the sudden change in climate conditions and can hence take further steps accordingly.
A farmer can also use weather forecasting to maintain the conditions in a greenhouse. A greenhouse is a shelter made up of transparent material like glass to manage the growth of special vegetables and fruits. In a greenhouse, a proportional control mechanism is used to control different environmental parameters.
A smart greenhouse can be considered as a new model of existing greenhouses where the internal conditions are managed without any human intervention. The environment in a smart greenhouse is automatically conditioned without any manual intervention. Through mutual communication between sensors and actuators, it monitors and manages different parameters like sunlight intensity, humidity, and temperature required for optimum plant growth.
Ranchers often face unique difficulties that farmers don’t. Since they deal with cattle, it can sometimes become troublesome for them to track their location and health. With GPS monitoring, ranchers can now track the location of their cattle immediately instead of finding them manually. With geofencing, real-time alerts can also alarm the ranch owner in case its cattle cross the vicinity of its farm. The GPS monitoring system can also be used to track cattle in case it is stolen by cattle smugglers.
Special health monitoring sensors built for cattle can also be used to confirm their well-being or to identify a specific kind of disease. These sensors can track their respiratory rate, heart rate, reproductive cycle, temperature, and blood pressure. The sick animals can easily be located and separated from herd to prevent contagiousness. Similarly, pregnant animals can also be segregated from the herd to give them special medical and supportive assistance.
Precision Farming/Agriculture is an IoT approach that makes farming more accurate and controlled. By using satellite mapping and intra-field systems, precision farming helps in catering to individual requirements of different crops. Variabilities in different portions of a field are monitored by geospatial tools that can affect the total crop yield and quality.
Precision Agriculture focuses on optimally using all resources that result in good crop production and reduce waste generation.
Smart Farming is an amazing application of the Internet of Things. It has completely revolutionized the agricultural practices and is helping the sector of farming to reach new heights of corporatization. Use of the Internet of Things in farming has reduced manual workload and has brought a paradigm shift in the shape of unique applications.
Sanjeev Verma is the founder of Biz4Intellia, one of the leading IoT development companies in the United States. He is extremely passionate about the Internet of Things and explores the possibilities unleashed by the IoT on a constant basis. At Biz4Intellia, Sanjeev's concrete focus is on building a rapid growing, market-driven organization that delivers influential IoT business solutions.