By now, most of us are quite familiar with reports on population growth, global warming, consumer demands, etc., and the pressure on our planet’s supply of food, water and land. It is worth noting that farmers have long leveraged technological breakthroughs to adapt agricultural practices to changing times and this era is no exception, particularly with the emergence of Smart Agriculture.
Modern Agribusiness heavily depends on the ability to efficiently manage resources in order to reduce environmental impact, minimize cost and maximize yield. Farmers face an interconnected host of challenges and, therefore, are interested in incorporating innovative technological solutions. IoT devices have provided the ability to automatically monitor crops and animals, providing valuable data that has traditionally been collected manually, as well as controlling systems and equipment throughout an operation.
By dispersing sensors connected to their phones or computers, farmers instantly retrieve data on soil temperature and moisture, pollution levels, weather conditions and rainfall, crop growth, livestock conditions and location, as well as receive alerts on fire or theft and activate irrigation equipment. All collected data will feed decision management tools to assist the farmer to make the right decision at the right time to optimize results and ensure the sustainability of his farm.
These incredible powers depend on a low-cost, flexibly deployed network infrastructure, where gateways can be added at any time, and one that enables the transmission of data from sensor to farmers’ devices over long distances in often remote locations, where cellular coverage may be poor at best.
Data-Driven Sustainable Farming
With LoRaWAN® technology, whose long-range, low-power wireless sensors can send data from the farm to the Cloud, via private or public networks, farmers have easy access to a host of information for improving their businesses, with a distinct advantage over satellites and drones. Such high value data can be transmitted over distances of up to 15 km from sensors with batteries lasting up to 10 years, resulting in lower maintenance and operating costs along with greater operational visibility, which in turn empower farmers to scale their businesses.
For example, recurrent tasks on the field can be replaced by automatized modes of monitoring and maintenance. The benefits are two-fold: farmers are able to detect irrigation necessities based on weather recording and forecast, plant estimated needs , soil moisture, etc. while detecting defaults in the irrigation system. This avoids time consuming checking of the systems on the field, it optimizes efficiency of irrigation and avoids potential loss of crops.
Individual monitoring of high value animals (cattle, horses…) or environmental monitoring of mass production animals (poultry, swine…) improves reproduction, grow factors and animal welfare while reducing the use of medication thanks to early detection of disease. This results in better milk quality and decreased environmental pollution.
Farmers can better monitor animal conditions, such as body temperature, estrus, disease, productivity, location as well as better prevent the loss or theft of livestock.
Farmers can accurately record rainfall and other weather conditions, set flood risk alarms and other alerts in changes of water quality or overuse of phytosanitary products.
Farm Asset Management
Farmers can now oversee storage conditions, receive alerts on gates and equipment and better track and quality control the entire supply chain.
Farmers can now schedule and apply the right amount of water to crops, reducing waste and costs.
Farmers can monitor soil quality from surface to roots, compare areas, modulate fertilizing, analyze historical patterns and better manage crops long-term.