Access to safe and fresh food is already a problem in the less developed parts of the world, but IoT in Agriculture helps with food production and distribution among the greatest human challenges. According to the United Nations, there will be nearly 10 billion people living on Earth by 2050, and this situation will only get worse. 

Overuse and climate change will cause a decrease in the amount of arable land available to us.

The daunting task of producing more food from fewer resources is a challenge, and every advantage can help. 

Even though the Internet of Things has been limited in its ability to optimize food production, it is already making a significant impact.

The future of IoT for agriculture looks bright. A study by BIS research has shown that the agricultural IoT market will reach $26.8 billion by 2023. Food producers are using this connected technology to increase their yields and reduce inefficiencies.

What is IoT and how can it affect food production? This article will examine the benefits and challenges of incorporating IoT in agriculture.

What does IoT mean for agriculture?

The internet of things is a collection of devices that can share information and act upon each other. IoT in Agriculture is a subset within the IoT space that focuses on creating data about crops and livestock, as well as assessing their health and finding solutions more efficiently than the human input.

IoT has an important function in agriculture. It allows integrating monitoring, decision-making, and action into the farming process.

Firstly, sensors take measurements of the condition of a crop or farm animal. Once the devices gather the data, they send them to a cloud platform. As a result, farmers can make smart decisions thanks to pre-setting parameters.

These vast amounts of data are then condensed into a format that is easily understood by automated machinery or farmers. These data are then used to implement the appropriate actions.

Increased efficiency is the most obvious outcome. Farmers can make informed decisions about animal health and crop treatments by having all the relevant data at their disposal at all times. They can forecast yields and calculate labor and logistics costs.

IoT’s benefits for field crops cultivation

The greatest asset IoT has to crop cultivation is knowledge. A farmer can access 24/7 relevant data by installing sensors in his fields, such as:

  • The weather
  • Soil moisture
  • Nutrient levels
  • Light levels

This optimizes irrigation and fertilization costs, saves significant money, and ensures that the crop thrives.

The most common type of IoT device in agriculture fields is the smart weather station. They collect data about weather conditions throughout the year and then send it to the cloud. The farmer has access to the historical and current data of the weather station, as well as all the past data for his local area.

This allows you to identify patterns and trends, as well as make better decisions about crop rotation. It is important to know that some factors such as weather can easily change the farmer’s decision on when to plant, fertilize, and harvest. This results in less waste and higher yields, while also reducing the adverse effects of bad weather.

Drones for Agriculture

While sensors are essential for assessing the field’s conditions they do not provide a complete solution. Modern farms combine them with drones to assess the field’s conditions. 

These remote-controlled vehicles can assess the field’s condition in a more detailed manner. Multispectral sensors and specialized mapping software are used to give farmers more detailed information such as:

  • The amount of plant growth
  • Canopy density
  • Chlorophyll production

Drones can create detailed aerial maps for areas as small and as large as one field. Farmers use these maps to assess the growth of their crops, identify potential problems with the irrigation system, and pinpoint problematic areas.

Drones can spray fertilizers and pesticides on crops at a lower cost. They follow a pre-programmed flight route and only spray those areas that require extra nutrition or protection.

Although the initial costs of using drones are high, it is a long-term investment for agriculture that will pay off. It is cheaper and more efficient to learn how to fly a drone than to hire a pilot or train to be one.

IoT to Manage and Improve the Welfare of Livestock

The number of commercial herds can be thousands so it is hard to keep track. A rancher can quickly locate a stray animal by installing tracking chips and return it to the herd quicker. Because the rancher can locate his livestock at all times, it takes less time to bring them back.

Livestock health must be monitored. This is why connected sensors are rapidly becoming popular. The sensors measure the animal’s temperature, heart rate, and activity to determine its health.

When there are any problems discovered, the rancher is notified so these animals can be treated and isolated. This helps to reduce the chance of an illness spreading to other animals. 

IoT in Food Supply Chain

The safest and fastest way for grown food to reach consumers is through the internet. IoT can help with many of these challenges. Automated climate control makes sure food does not spoil while it travels to its destination. 

This is an important aspect of the supply chain. Smart thermostats monitor the temperature in real-time while food is in transit or storage. Temperature sensors monitor food and warn if it becomes too hot. This allows knowing which food is unsafe to eat.

The farmer-consumer relationship is improved by incorporating IoT in food logistics. People are making more conscious choices about what they eat. 

IoT challenges in agriculture

Although it is obvious that IoT in agriculture has many benefits, there are still some issues to address before IoT becomes widespread. Today, IoT in agriculture faces many challenges such as:

  • Lack of information
  • Low infrastructure
  • High adoption costs
  • Security concerns
  • Lack of transparency

The Internet of Things, a new concept, is best-known for those who work in cutting-edge technology. Many farmers do not know that IoT is an option for agriculture.

Problematic is that not all farmers are open to new ideas. 

They don’t want to use IoT, despite the obvious benefits. To raise awareness about IoT’s benefits, farmers should know what drones, sensors, and other IoT technologies can do. However, This can be done in an easy-to-understand manner with real-world examples.

If you want to learn more about IoT and how to implement it in your company, click here!

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