The beginning of smart agriculture or third green revolution to meet the ever increasing food demand in a constantly changing climate scenario.
Agriculture is an activity which made a primitive man to adopt a settled lifestyle. His experimentation with different soils, plants, crops led to the formation of rural societies which later took shape of big civilizations world over. Basically agriculture or food production will be at the crux of any society at any given period of time of human life.
The 21st century is a period marked by high technology, wireless and internet connectivity. The internet of things (IoT) is ruling our lifestyles. From city infrastructure, electricity generation and management, health segment, road transportation everything is modeled on IoT nowadays. When every segment is benefitted by this technology, IoT can be of great benefit to the agricultural sector.
IoT can play a significant role in improving the quality and quantity of agricultural produce by bringing in technology and equipment which can help in better management and assessment of natural resources like water, soil, and climate.
According to United Nations FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) report, the global population would increase to over 9 billion by 2050. In order to feed the ever increasing world population, agricultural production needs to rise 50% by 2050. Also, it is mentioned that over 800 million people are undernourished and one in three people are not getting an adequate diet. Apart from that, change in climate and drawbacks of intensive farming over land and water resources makes it important to devise new methods to face future challenges in the agricultural sector.
To overcome these problems Smart Agriculture which can also begin the era of third green revolution can give path-breaking results. With the help of smart information and communication technologies, the efficiency and yield of agricultural sector can be improved. Smart agriculture or high tech farming with the help of drones and sensors is already becoming common in developed countries. It is expected that market for smart agricultural devices would reach up to $18.45 billion by 2022. The United States is already leading in smart agricultural practices with its per hectare produce and drop in its energy costs and irrigation water compared to the global average.
Important Agricultural Segments Benefitted by IoT
Water Management for Crops
Right amount of water supply is essential for seedlings to grow into healthy crops. Every crop has its own requirement of water. For example: while rice seeds are placed into the flooded land, wheat requires adequate rainwater during ripening. Anything in excess or shortage can hamper the quantity and quality of the harvest. With technologies like web map services (WMS) and Sensor Observation Services (SoS), farmers can better assess the water requirement of a particular field. IoT can also help in understanding the topography or water resources available in the area. Technology can also help in making efficient use of limited water resources such as the use of remote controls to manage motors and carry out irrigational activity in fields thereby reducing water loss.
Accurate weather forecasts and careful assessment of various factors like soil quality, labor and input cost, real-time data about agricultural processes can have a significant impact on a farm’s yield. If farmers can have a pre-access to all these information they can devise their farming activities in a more planned manner and minimize loss from any possible occurrences.
To achieve this some companies are developing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drones to fulfill the functions of surveying and mapping of farmland. By setting them at a certain altitude to survey a designated field, they can collect real-time data about weather conditions, wind speed and other visual or imaging data. This information can be used by farmers to plan their activities in a more secure manner against any possible contingency.
Pest Control Management
Pests attack on crops poses a great threat to a farmer’s produce. They can damage crops and lead to huge monetary losses for farmers. Also as nowadays, people have shifted their focus to organic food and farming. The agricultural industry is now looking for measures to replace pesticides. Internet of Things technologies are helping agriculturalists in monitoring, identifying, controlling the pest growth. There are sensors which observe pest behavior and alert farmers the moment pest population is on the high rise to carry out adequate measures, thereby reducing any major losses.
Agriculture and livestock rearing go hand in hand. Animal husbandry provides additional income to farmers. The internet of things can help them save time and resources in livestock management. First, there are tools and technology like ear tags which can help in detecting some diseases on farm animals especially cattle’s.
Quick knowledge and diagnosis help in removing the sick animal from the pack at the earliest, preventing other animals from getting sick. Secondly, there are sensors or collars which can help in monitoring the movement of animals on a farm land to trace their location quickly saving labor costs.
Food Stock Management
Food security and inventory management are a crucial aspect of gaining proper monetary rewards by farmers. Once the food production is done, it is equally important to have proper means to store and transport the food supplies to market. The IoT in this segment can help in assessing the temperature requirement while storing, delivery and record maintenance.
Milk Farm Monitoring
It is important to have efficient storing and cooling of milk. Real-time monitoring of milk levels and chilling temperature, lactose measurement, plant wash monitoring are essential for quality supply.
The IoT enabled devices can help significantly in these aspects.
As farming is a risk-driven activity, the needs are diverse. To combat losses and generate high farm yields smart agriculture with IoT based devices can be a boom for farmers and food industry. Mobile Applications to monitor the farms and produce remotely, smart sensors to check the soil acidity, moisture content, humidity levels, crop health, pest attack, health issues in dairy animals, smart GPS, drones and robotics for effective monitoring and controlling of farms and livestock are some of the technologies which can combat real-time problems faced by farmers in conventional farming. The data collected can be used for further improvisation in agriculture making farmlands more connected and productive.