The internet of things in agriculture
The internet of things (IoT) is a key driving force in the agricultural revolution. The proliferation of affordable, smart devices that are connected to the internet is transforming the efficiency of farming at field level. Smart agriculture systems using IoT enable the collection of mass amounts of cloud-stored agricultural data.
AI-driven big data analytics is allowing scientists, researchers, agronomists, and even individual farmers to extrapolate relevant data and develop innovative solutions to the challenges of 21st-century farming. Data-driven agriculture solutions combined with IoT also have wider applications in food production and food distribution. Benefits from IoT in agriculture are felt across the food supply value chain from smallholder farms to broadacre crop production and to consumers in the supermarkets.
What is the IoT?
The internet of things (IoT) is a general term for the billions of smart devices that contain small chips and sensors, and are connected to the internet. IoT was conceptualized at least a couple of decades ago and British developer Kevin Ashton coined the phrase the internet of things in 1999. A combination of (almost) simultaneous technical advances made theoretical concepts commercially viable, to the extent that IoT is part of our daily lives.
- Mass production of tiny, low-cost RFID tag computer chips
- IPv6 internet protocol which can assign unlimited unique ISP addresses
- Rolling out powerful new broadband and wireless coverage.
IoT is growing exponentially and already encompasses many household items. If you have a sensor or timer in your home or vehicle that can be accessed and controlled via an app, you’re connected to the IoT. Our workplaces, schools, and cities are also intrinsically connected to the internet of things. IoT is now making inroads into agriculture and transforming the world’s most vital industry.
Internet of things applications in agriculture
The internet of things is already an intramural part of farming. Irrigation has been controlled by field-level computers for decades and farmers have relied on weather satellites for almost a generation. Now with readily available sensors researchers, agronomists and growers can collect a variety of data points to better understand what is happening at field-level.
The game-changer for agriculture is the availability and affordability of sensors and other devices that are small, robust, and connected. Smart agriculture systems using IoT include remote sensors, robots, drones, and computer imaging. IoT and agriculture are evolving into a global smart agriculture market that is expected to be worth almost $16 billion by 2025.
One of the key benefits of IoT in agriculture is the ability to apply analytical tools to transform collected data into actionable insights. Researchers and agronomists can use these insights to make an informed analysis of crop health and performance based on the parameters they are collecting data for. Farmers can also use these insights to make informed decisions about farming practices. IoT applications in agriculture can lead to better crop and seed selection, optimal crop nutrition management, improved yields and crop quality, reduced environmental damage and waste, lower production costs, and greater all-round sustainability.
The internet of things is transforming farming on two fundamental levels. It is making farming more efficient at field level and it is empowering farmers, agronomists, and researchers with a clear picture of what is happening at field level, by leveraging big data and smart data analytics.
Farmers are no longer restricted by a paucity of information or gut decisions at the operational planning level. They can now make informed decisions based on empirical data, and lower their production risks.
When cloud storage and algorithms break down traditional data silos, and information is disseminated, farmers, researchers, and agronomists are potentially empowered. They have convenient access to data (or data-driven insights and solutions) at a macro and micro level.
Greenhouses and controlled microclimates
One of the most promising IoT applications in agriculture is the automation of smart greenhouses. A greenhouse is essentially an artificial microclimate that requires precise regulation. To create an optimal growing environment, growers need to control temperature, humidity, artificial lighting, UV light levels, soil moisture and irrigation, PH levels, and every aspect of the environment. They also need to optimize the application of inputs for crop health and nutrition. Researchers using greenhouses to mirror growing climates for regions they are testing crop varieties can also optimize their data collection efforts with IoT sensors.
The larger IoT benefits in agriculture
Benefits of IoT in agriculture go far beyond basic improvements in efficiency at field level and production level. Smart agriculture systems using IoT will provide the key to feeding a growing world population in the first half of the 21st century. The United Nations currently predicts that the global population will reach 10 billion by 2050. To meet the needs for food security, we will need to increase agricultural production by almost 70% over the next three decades.
In addition to the need for increasing food production globally, the need to protect the environment is just as pressing. Deforestation and desertification are urgent environmental issues that need to be addressed. As stewardship practices continue to evolve, such as no-till in the fields, growers and researchers work together for better options that protect the environment and meet food production needs.
Consumers are increasingly making ethical choices when they buy food products. They also expect to see a greater diversity of high-quality, nutrient-dense, food products on their supermarket shelves. IoT and agriculture can help meet the multiple challenges of protecting the environment and implementing sustainable agriculture, reducing waste and production costs, and delivering a worldwide abundance of diverse and healthy food products.
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Agmatix data and analytical solutions
Agmatix is at the heart of big data analytics in the field of agriculture and food production.
With the introduction of IoT in agriculture, data collection has skyrocketed. The challenge isn’t necessarily the quantity of data collected, but rather the ability to gain insights from quality data. Agmatix standardizes agricultural data and makes it readily accessible to researchers, agronomists, and agriculture professionals, both on a strategic planning level and at field-level.
Agmatix offers practical data-driven solutions to increase crop management efficiency and boost yields. Our agronomic solutions include field trial management, digital crop advisor tools, and carbon footprint analysis. We are also invested in open agriculture data sharing, giving researchers and agronomists the ability to devise their own solutions and strategies based on empiricism.
With the tools and technology available today, we can achieve the goals of zero hunger and great sustainability. Agmatix is determined to drive the new agricultural revolution with its innovative agro-informatics tools available for researchers, agronomists, and agriculture professionals. Together with IoT, Agmatix can help leverage your data for deeper insights into research, crop management and nutrition needs, and carbon footprint analysis.