How smart is your farm?
Do you want to ride the next wave of smart farm revolution? While agriculture has been a leader in the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, it’s only until recently that every farm has to get into the game.
Major players like John Deere and Monsanto have invested heavily in IoT or smart farming technologies, and large agricultural operations are using them. In 2015 an estimated 30 billion connected devices were used in agriculture, and a projected 75 billion devices will be in use by 2020.
According to IoT consulting firm Beecham Research, the lack of reliable wireless and broadband in rural areas and the cost of the equipment are two primary barriers to adoption. With dedicated fibre from Axia, you have all the speed and stability you need for a connected farm, and sensors are becoming affordable. As these barriers are removed, more mid-to-small sized operations will move into smart farming.
Why go smart?
The UN has predicted that by 2050, the global population will reach 9.7 billion people, all of who will need to eat. Food production needs to increase by 70% to meet that demand.
Smart farming technologies allow you to do more with less. With the right tools, you can increase crop yields using less water and fertilizer, and monitor operations with less manpower. You can even move into the lucrative organics market by using smart technologies to eliminate the use of pesticides.
The parts of a smart farm system are sensors, current and historical environmental data, software and actuators.
At the heart of the smart farm are sensors. These include soil sensors that measure temperature, pH, nutrient, nitrogen and phosphorus level or soil density. Hyperspectral or multispectral sensors detect crop health by measuring how much plants absorb or reflect light. Sensors can be set up in fixed locations, or farmers can deploy drones to monitor fields. Multispectral sensors can even be mounted on tractors so the reading is processed in real time to adjust the dose of fertilizer the tractor administers in the field.
Data and software
A smart farm needs to be able to turn the data collected by sensors into intelligent decisions such best planting times and optimal watering options. Farmers have been collecting data and acting on it for years, but with the volume of information available today, it can't be processed manually. As well, combining your farm's data with outside data sets that relate to the operation leads to better decisions. This is where technology vendors and farm management systems come in. You can go with big firms like AT&T M2X or check out a start-up like Vital Herd.
Any piece of farm equipment can be an actuator with a few minor changes. An irrigation system that runs based on intelligence gathered by soil sensors and analyzed by a management system is an actuator. A smart thermostat installed in a barn is also an actuator.
Smart tech in action
Of all of the available IoT options, the connected cow is the most likely to become standard on farms. There are systems that track cow movements, predicting when they are fertile or when they are in a position to give birth. GPS systems aid in directing cows to feed at pastures with the best grass. Wearables can monitor bovine health, and there's even a pill that stays in a cow's stomach throughout its life for health monitoring.
Crop protection is on its way to being automated using an environment-friendly process. Vancouver firm SemiosBio has developed a system in which cameras mounted on sticky traps monitor insect volume around the clock. When the cameras detect a breeding-related surge in insect activity, a device sprays pheromones that confuse the males and disrupts breeding.
If you have a farming problem that could be solved by technology, chances are someone is working on an app for it. With fast fibre networks, your farming operation can take advantage of anything the world of IoT has to offer.
For more information on our fibre connectivity solutions, contact your Axia salesperson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-773-3348.