IoT applications in agriculture: the potential of smart farming on the current stage

Paul Stokes
Oct 2, 2018 · 7 min read

Everything on smart agriculture (with examples!) in one place: precision farming, drones, greenhouse farming, livestock management, and supply chain IoT solutions

IoT in agriculture: how it works

It’s not a secret that the Internet of Things (IoT) triumphally changes the world. In fact, it has already introduced innovation in various industries, which assisted in increasing the effectiveness and cutting the costs of business operations in different aspects. And the area of agriculture fits this trend totally. Being previously dependent on human resources and hard machinery completely, it has also started applying technological solutions and modernizing its core operations. And so, it is possible to discuss agriculture IoT as the whole sphere. To address this task, we discover the main directions in which Internet of Things (IoT) applications in agriculture managed to make a significant impact.

IoT farming: the most widespread direction

As one of the popular dimensions to discuss applications of IoT in agriculture, the precision farming deserves special attention. In this sphere, the adoption of smart technology includes using sensors, robots, systems of control, and autonomous vehicles. In addition, the potential of IoT farming includes an ability to offer for farmers environmentally friendly pesticides. Besides, the introduction of smart technology into agriculture enables proper tracking of the natural factors, like climate change, soil composition, and weather forecast.

In this dimension, it is possible to mention several cases of IoT applications in agriculture. Firstly, there exists the entire CropMetrics organization that works with VRI (Variable Rate Irrigation) optimization, meaning an ability to improve topography or soil variability and maximize efficiency and yield performance. In this case, IoT farming means inviting a precision data specialist who introduces simple-to-use cloud software with a high level of customization that optimizes irrigation scheduling and maximizes profit.

Secondly, farmers widely use Arable and Semios to monitor the state of their crops. On the one hand, Arable allows growers to use an analytics platform that provides a unique opportunity to collect both weather and plant information and integrate it into a cloud. On another hand, IoT in agriculture as a Semios solution means using a scalable platform for yield improvement with real-time updates on the health condition of plants.

Finally, there is a line of IoT applications in smart agriculture aimed at climate change prediction. In this context, allMETEO and its Meteoshield and Smart City weather sensors allow smarter management of crops with notifications of the necessary preventive measures to protect the plants. In fact, the adoption of this innovation significantly improves the potential of precision farming too.

IoT applications in agriculture: the assistance of drones

Drones are highly useful in managing agricultural processes — with the pictures and aerial maps they provide, a farmer gets an immediate understanding of which crops need urgent attention. Besides, the advantages of using this innovation in the sphere include better care over crop in general — evaluation of its health state, irrigation, monitoring of progress, spraying, and planting. Finally, drones are helpful in saving time, since all the information is collected without the need to invest time and effort in working on the field.

In practice, IoT offers for agricultural needs two types of drones: ground-based and aerial-based ones. To gather the necessary information, farmers input the field data, including ground resolution and its altitude. As a result, a drone provides details on plant counting, yield prediction, health indices, height meterage, the presence of chemicals in plants and soil, drainage mapping and various other data. Among the examples from the sphere of the Internet of Things agriculture, the basic directions of drone assistance include soil and field analysis (with 3D maps for seed planting predictions), planting (by providing the needed nutrients), crop spraying (with ultrasonic echoing and lasers to adjust altitude and avoid collisions), crop monitoring (through providing time-series animation instead of static satellite images), irrigation (having sensors to reveal dry areas), and health evaluation (taking crop scans to identify the lack of green light and NIR light). In other words, drones take care of the full cycle of crops.

IoT applications for greenhouse farming

As the special dimension of IoT applications in agriculture, there exist various effective solutions for greenhouse farming. In particular, climate control is achieved through positioning several sensors that send alerts about water or air problems. In practice, the products that allow achieving these aims include Farmapp and Growlink.

Farmapp, being a representative of IoT applications in smart agriculture, offers farmers an Integrated Pest Management software with monitoring, sensors, and fumigation functions. Specifically, it includes a scouting app for fast recording and implementation of the needed measures — with satellite maps, comparative maps, charts and reports at hand. Moreover, it is possible to receive real-time data on weather and soil condition through a direct access to satellite images and algorithmic calculations. Finally, the functionality of Farmapp captures better irrigation — in this dimension, this IoT in agriculture enables tracking of the amount of water spent on plants for its optimization.

In its turn, Growlink allows a real-time monitoring in greenhouses with the aim to increase quality and yield performance. In particular, this Internet of Things agriculture solution concentrates on automation of working with operational data — including planning, controlling, tracking, and monitoring activities. Hence, farmers get an outstanding opportunity to achieve the best performance possible in a long run.

Internet of Things agriculture solutions for livestock management

As for the livestock control, IoT in agriculture assists in tracking the state of the herd in general and each its representative in particular. In this sphere, there exist applications to determine the health of animals, find their location, and track the state of pregnancies — especially, while dealing with cattle and chicken. And among the concrete examples among IoT applications in agriculture in this dimension, there are SCR by Allflex and Cowlar.

SCR by Allflex offers cow, milking, and herd intelligence, along with several other professional solutions. In this context, the functionality of its service includes tracking all the insights about each herd participant (heat, health, and nutrition), optimizing milking process (simplify and streamline), and collecting data into an integrated and actionable plan for herd development. Likewise, Cowlar is a company that addresses the similar needs — optimizing milking, maximizing performance, reducing labor costs — along with boosting reproduction.

Besides, to address the challenge of the need for monitoring animal health in a long run, Symphony Link is an application that avoids mesh networking and completes the task of a complete integration effectively. As a revolutionary invention in the world of IoT in agriculture, it links wide-area IoT networks with modules (including RXR-27), gateways, and conductor.

IoT applications for the entire supply chain in agriculture

In terms of logistics, Internet of Things agriculture enables using GPS, RFID, and other location-based sensors to control transportation and storing of plants. In this context, the entire supply chain can increase its effectiveness, meaning the improvements in terms of transparency and customer awareness (precisely, in terms of food safety).

Furthermore, end-to-end farm management systems are also an area of the interest of IoT software development in farming market. In this context, there exists a possibility to install sensors and devices that can provide data for analytics, reports, and accounting. The exact solutions with these features are FarmLogs and Cropio.

FarmLogs presents on agriculture market a software for facilitating grain marketing decisions. Specifically, it provides a toolkit necessary for creating a grain marketing plan (with the value of unsold crops, contact list, and goal-setting) and insights on profitability increasing. Among the concrete products, farmers can order marketing, reports, automatic activity recording, crop health imagery, and rainfall tracking.

As for Cropio, the solution refers to field management and vegetation control system functionality. Specifically, it facilitates checking the state of numerous fields, provides real-time data on the necessary updates, and assists in forecasting. Among its key features, the abilities to provide field history, instant alerts, vegetation map, soil moisture, and harvest forecast are impressive.

Smart agriculture: an aftermath

As you can see, the range of IoT applications in agriculture is truly impressive. And as a final note on this topic to illustrate the perspectives of this sphere in the near future, just look at the magic merger of agriculture and IoT in this video!

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