The state of IoT and Agriculture

1 жовтня 13:27
For the most part we associate The Internet of Things with consumer products.

 The industry, as a whole, however is making a significant impact beyond just the everyday convenience. IoT applications are growing increasingly more useful and on larger scales, including connected cities, hospitals and transportation systems.

One significant impact is already being felt in the world of agriculture. With the human population growing faster than ever, and the availability of land and water resources being depleted, particularly in developing nations, farmers and scientists envision IoT as a path toward increasing productivity and food quantities.

“The world population is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050 and in order to feed that, food production needs to grow by 70 percent,” said Chetan Gadgil, IoT Practitioner, Intel Corporation. “There is a problem brewing, especially with water conservation. The World Economic Forum has identified a water crisis as the most likely impending disaster facing us today.” Farmers are embracing the use of sensors and web map services to manage shrinking water supplies. A lack of water can destroy crops, but the field sensors analyze water needs and calculate distribution to create an efficient water strategy. Farms and ranches that produce crops are primarily using IoT technology, combining a mix of data, math, hardware and software, sensors and analysis to fuel productivity. According to Business Insider the U.S. currently leads the world in IoT smart agriculture, producing 7,340 kgs of cereal (e.g. wheat, rice, maize, barley, etc.) per hectare (2.5 acres) of farmland. According to IBM, which makes IoT products, including its super-computer Watson, connected sensors represent the most significant disruption to the agriculture industry. In the year 2000, of the 525 million worldwide farms, none was connected to the Internet of Things. By 2025, however, more than 600 million sensors will be in place on those farms and by 2025, it’s expected that more than 2 billion connected devices will be part of the everyday equipment on most farms. 

And while devices will primarily be centered on water efficiency and distribution, IoT sensors also play a large role in the care of farm animals. Livestock, from chickens and ducks to pigs and cows, are already sporting wearables designed to keep them healthier for longer periods of times to reduce early death and potential food waste.

U.S. farmers lose $2.4 billion in food from unexpected animal deaths, according to the USDA. In the past, when dealing with massive amounts of cattle, an animal sickness could go undetected until there were physical signs. By the time a veterinarian looked at a sick cow, it is often too late. Enter the cow wearables, which can submit health data to a cloud that informs the farmer at the earliest possible stage of animal sickness. 

Sensors can also track calf births and even when a cow enters her fertile stage. If there is a problem with a cow as it gives birth, the monitors alert farmers who can intervene, rather than simply watching on a security camera, which is how they observe cattle now.

Wearables have also changed the way farmers raise their chickens. One of the most common chicken injuries is a broken keel bone, the bone that connects the wing muscles to the breast. Everyday chickens tend to behave the same way, traveling the same paths and moving in the same rotations. An IoT tracker on a chicken’s leg can monitor its movement and behavior. When a chicken’s daily routine is disrupted, farmers can see the change via the wearable’s data and intervene. This information is key in helping prevent future injuries.

“The ability to track individuals in these systems is a game changer,” Courtney Daigle, who directs Texas A&M’s animal behavior and welfare lab, told Wired. “There’s only so much you can know by looking at a group of animals. These technologies give a window into these animals’ lives at a much deeper level.” 

Sensors are also essential in pesticide management, detecting insects’ presence earlier, monitoring their movements and behaviors and then allowing farmers to intervene and eradicate them.


And while sensors and gadgets will increase food productivity at traditional farms, IoT technology will eventually transform farming, bringing much of the work away from the fields and into the lab. Japan has been at the forefront of farming techniques without soil, raising crops in an artificial environment, which allows them to be stacked high and dense to increase quantities. With land availability at capacity around the world, these vertical, controlled farms without soil or sun are the next wave of agriculture. “From seed to harvest in 16 days, otherwise takes 30 days in the field, and then we are able to do that 22 times a year, versus in the field three times a year in the field,” said Aerofarms CEO David Rosenberg. 

Investors have also embraced vertical farming; San Francisco startup Plenty recently received $200 million from SoftBank, Alphabet and Amazon.

Sensors and IoT devices are making an impact everywhere and beyond just humans’ ability to maximise the entertainment of their daily lives. While consumer products and trends come and go, the IoT industry appears destined to focus on the bigger world and a transition from convenience and comfort to human survival. 

On materials blog.duncanjcarter.co.uk





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