IoT in agriculture: 8 technology use cases for smart farming and challenges to consider

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With the growing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), connected devices have infiltrated every aspect of our life, from health and fitness, home automation, automotive and logistics, to smart cities and industrial IoT.

Who wouldn’t agree that if there is one sector that we all as the human race really need to become more efficient and prosperous using all the possible technologies such as IoT, it’s the Agriculture sector? It is directly connected with how prosperous and peaceful we are as societies as well as nation-states. 5G networks and IoT are great opportunities for the world to tackle challenges that the rising population and climate changes are posing to the future not so far from today.

Over the last few decades, farming has endured many technical revolutions, becoming more industrial and technology-driven. Farmers have gained better control over the process of raising livestock and growing crops by using various smart agriculture gadgets, making it more predictable and effective.

For example:
  • Sensor-based systems for tracking crops, soil, fields, cattle, storage facilities, and pretty much every other significant factor that affects production.
  • Drones, autonomous robots, and actuators are all examples of smart agricultural vehicles.
  • Smart greenhouses and hydroponics are examples of connected agriculture spaces.
  • Systems for data analytics, simulation, and management.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) has already disrupted a number of sectors, including agriculture. The globally linked agriculture industry was worth USD 1.8 billion at the end of 2018, and it’s still growing. With a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.3 percent, it is forecast to reach USD 4.3 billion by 2023.

Why should you consider building an IoT application for agriculture in the first place?

  • Quality and quantity of products have improved: By automating the production process, you can gain better control over the process and raise the level of crop quality and growth efficiency.
  • Internal procedures are better regulated, and manufacturing risks are reduced as a result: You will help prepare for product delivery by being able to predict the success of your manufacturing. You will be certain that your commodity will not go unsold if you know precisely how many crops you can harvest.
  • Cost controls and waste avoidance also improved as a result of expanded quality control: You would be able to mitigate the chances of wasting your performance by being able to spot any defects in crop growth or livestock health.
  • Smart agriculture sensors collect a lot of data: This database will be used to monitor the condition of your company as a whole, as well as employee morale, equipment efficiency, and so on.
  • Process automation increased business productivity: You can simplify various processes in the manufacturing chain by using smart devices. e.g. irrigation, fertilizing, or pest control.

IoT use cases in agriculture

Agriculture can benefit from the development of IoT sensors and IoT applications:

Predictive analytics for smart farming

Agricultural production and data analytics are integrally linked. Though IoT and smart sensor technologies provide a goldmine of highly applicable real-time data, farmers can use data analytics to make sense of it and make critical forecasts, such as crop harvesting dates, disease and infestation risks, yield volume, and so on.

Data analytics systems make farming more manageable and predictable, despite the fact that it is inherently heavily dependent on weather conditions.

Precision farming

Precision farming is all about productivity and making possibly the best decisions based on results. It’s also one of the most popular and successful IoT uses in agriculture.

Farmers will gather a wealth of data on any aspect of the field microclimate and environment using IoT sensors, including illumination, temperature, soil quality, humidity, CO2 levels, and pest infections. Farmers may use this information to predict the amount of water, fertilizer, and pesticides their crops need, lowering costs and resulting in better, healthier crops.

Agricultural drones

The use of agricultural drones in smart farming is perhaps one of the most exciting agritech inventions. Drones are better suited to gather agricultural data than airplanes and satellites.

Monitoring of climate conditions

Weather stations, which combine different smart farming sensors, are perhaps the most common smart agriculture gadgets. They gather data from the atmosphere and send it to the cloud from locations all over the field.

Cattle monitoring and management

IoT agriculture sensors can be attached to farm animals to track their health and record output in the same way as crop tracking sensors can be attached to crops. Data on stock quality, well-being, and physical location can be collected using livestock tracking and monitoring.

Crop management

They should be put in the field, similar to weather stations, to gather data unique to crop farming, such as temperature and precipitation, as well as water stress capacity and overall crop health. You should keep track of your crop’s progress and any irregularities to avoid pests or infestations that might damage your production.

Greenhouse automation

They can get precise real-time information on greenhouse conditions like lighting, temperature, soil quality, and humidity by using IoT sensors.

Weather stations will automatically change the conditions to fit the specified parameters in addition to gathering environmental data. A similar concept is used in greenhouse automation systems.

End-to-end farm management systems

Farm productivity management systems reflect a more complex approach to IoT goods in agriculture. They usually contain a range of on-premises agriculture IoT instruments and sensors, as well as a versatile dashboard with analytical capability and built-in accounting/reporting functionality.

This helps you to track your farm from afar and streamline much of your business activities.

Vehicle monitoring (or also automation), storage control, logistics, and other popular IoT agriculture use cases are only a few examples.

IoT Challenges in Agriculture

A smart agriculture infrastructure based on IoT and big data technologies may be the industry’s salvation. However, incorporating technology into conventional agricultural methods has come with its own set of challenges.

Connectivity

To make an IoT device run, you must have communication in the agricultural environment—fields, storehouses, barns, greenhouses, and so on. And there’s a lot of space to deal in here. It should ideally be a stable, continuous link that can survive extreme weather and open-space environments.

Though, since different networks use different protocols and data transfer mechanisms, synchronization remains a challenge in the Internet of Things in general. Hopefully, efforts to control this area, implement regulations, and the development of 5G technology and the space-based Internet will soon solve this issue, providing fast and stable Internet service for every space, regardless of its size or conditions.

Design and durability

Any IoT device used in agriculture should be ready to handle not only communications but also the conditions of the outdoors. Drones, portable sensors, IoT in the smart grid, and weather monitoring stations should have a simple but practical interface and a certain amount of robustness to “run in the farm.” Not to mention the intricacy and uniqueness of creating an IoT app in general.

by the way, do you have a smart agriculture idea in mind that you’d like to put into action but lack the required designers and developers? Contact our team to learn more about how we can make it work and get started developing a market-winning product as soon as tomorrow.

Limited resources and time

However the introduction of smart technology in agriculture occurs in the sense of a rapidly evolving climate and a lack of time, the role of IoT in agriculture is critical.

Companies who plan and develop IoT for agriculture must understand boosted climate change and evolving weather extremes, as well as resource scarcity and unfavorable conditions such as dying pollinators.

On the upside, several innovative ventures are springing up in response to these circumstances, such as Deutsche Telekom’s connected beehives or Square Roots’ urban farms in shipping containers, both established by Elon Musk’s younger brother Kimbal Musk.

Conclusion

IoT-enabled agriculture has led to the implementation of cutting-edge technical solutions to age-old theories. This has aided in bridging the difference between output, efficiency, and yield quantity. Data gathered by collecting and importing data from various sensors for real-time use or storing in a database enables quick action and minimal crop loss. Produce is handled quicker and hits supermarkets in the shortest time possible thanks to smooth end-to-end intelligent processes and enhanced business process execution.

If agriculture and IoT development in this sector are your goals, you have a project or idea in mind, or simply need someone to guide you through IoT implementation steps, contact the Savvient Technologies team. We are a team of experienced software engineers, architects, designers, and analysts who help B2B and B2C businesses benefit from IoT and big data technologies.

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