The possibilities of Internet of Things (IoT) for Agriculture


The possibilities of Internet of Things (IoT) for Agriculture

Quick read

  • The world still need more food to feed the growing population
  • Internet of Things (loT) is being used in agriculture
  • Some advantages of Internet of Things (loT) 
  • Learn more about Internet of Things (loT)

The Agricultural revolution of 1930s to 1960s focused on increasing agricultural production and mechanization; technology was at the center of its success. However, in reality 50 years later, there are still many people who are hungry, today 815 million people are chronically undernourished.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) predicted that the global population will likely reach 9.8 billion people by 2050 ( SOFA, 2017: xii). In order to feed the world, food production must increase by 70% by 2050.

There is common consensus that farmers should be equipped with innovative tools and techniques especially digital technologies. Could internet technologies lead to a new agricultural revolution? I found out that many proponents of this premise are very assertive about it.

There is a growing realization that using the Internet of things (IoT), big data and expert system will usher in precision farming which will lead the ‘agriculture 2.0’ (WorldBank, 2017) ; and the Internet of things (IoT) will be key to agricultural production.

Agriculture and the Internet of Things (loT)

Internet of Things (loT) or internet-enabled communications was simply explained by Jacob Morgan who stated that broadband Internet is widely available and more devices come with Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors with them. The devices create a ‘storm’ around a common Wi-Fi.

In agriculture loT applications include farm vehicle tracking, livestock monitoring, storage monitoring and other farm operations. The diagram on the right provides a visual of this application.

In this loT model, sensors can be deployed in the farm – to the ground, in water, in vehicles etc. to collect data. The collected data is stored in the cloud system or server and accessed by the farmer via the internet or their mobile phones.

In some cases, the farmer can remotely control the activities in the farm due to this connectivity. Is this possible? Yes, remember one of the e-Agriculture webinars on Nano Ganesh explained the mobile-based remote controller for water pumps. Also we covered the use of loT by the Hello Tractor, where they developed a low-cost monitoring device which is placed on a tractor and allows them to be on call like an uber taxi and in this way farmers can share resources and fully utilise tractors .

loT has been applied in agriculture in general, in arable farming, in fisheries and aquaculture, in animal food consumption, in agri-food supply chain, in green house horticulture and livestock farming.Read more applications here

Benefits of loT to agriculture

The benefits that farmers get from applying loT is two pronged; firstly farmers can optimize the use of inputs and also farmers can decrease production costs. Furthermore, the other benefits were also itemized below:-

  • Saves cost by effectively using inputs
  • Better monitoring of crops and avoiding crop losses through disease or adverse weather
  • Help in optimizing water use
  • Better planning of farm activities

The challenges of loT in agriculture are the cost of equipment and the need for wider internet coverage. These two prerequisites eliminated many farmers in the developing countries to enjoy this technology.

Webinar Series: Internet of Things for Agriculture

In light of the above stated facets of loT, the World Bank has been running the IoT webinar series. The following topics have been covered:-

  • Taking the Guesswork out of growing: Internet of Things in agriculture
  • IoT and Autonomous Irrigation with Tevatronic
  • Precision Farming: Sensors and Wireless/3G Phone for Smart Irrigation and Fertigation Applications
  • Transforming dairy supply chain with SmartMoo IoT Platform
  • Transforming Aquaculture with IoT
  • IoT: The Internet of Tractors
  • Innovation for Horticultural Challenges in Vietnam: Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture

We still need to know and case of farmers who can attribute their change in yields to loT in agriculture. Again on e-Agriculture we focused on some of the benefits that some farmers elsewhere are already seeing.

Are you already using loT for Agriculture? Share with us your experiences by replying to this news item

Further reading

  1. Agriculture 2.0: how the Internet of Things can revolutionize the farming sector
  2. The research of IOT of agriculture based on three layers architecture
  3. Adoption of technologies for sustainable farming systems: Wageningen Workshop Proceedings

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