With the world population increasing at an alarming rate and food grain supply unable to meet the requirements, a bleak future awaits us. As resources get depleted with each passing day, a solution needs to be found sooner rather than later. In this perilous situation and with the population fast approaching 10 billion mark, fast IoT development has emerged as a ray of hope.
The Untold Truth about Agriculture
Many people do not know that agriculture is not an optimized process. Practiced since the dawn of human civilizations, its development has not corresponded with the rise in levels of IT and telecom industry. While agricultural equipment has seen timely upgrades, quality internet connectivity has remained a distant dream. Hence, the information about best agricultural practices (irrigation, fertilization etc.) has not benefited farmers. The result: insufficient produce, the rising price of food commodities and a hungry world. The situation is especially grave for farmers plying their trade in the developing countries. They are toiling hard in the field but the rewards are not forthcoming due to persistent natural calamities and adverse climate changes.
What Is Needed for Transforming Agriculture?
IoT as a technology has been revolutionary in all aspects. Its employment in healthcare, automobiles and daily appliances has made life simpler and safer than it used to be. Despite its mass appeal, it is still not fully harnessed in the field that requires it the most – Agriculture.
What makes a lack of use of IoT in agriculture alarming is the fact that it can be integrated in this field without causing any disruption. The farmers can continue working the way they are and no wholesale changes are required to start the transformation. The only thing required is good IoT data connectivity and a reliable IoT infrastructure. All the efforts are required from the outside to add real value to the tasks performed by the hard-working farmers.
For transforming agriculture, the following IoT requirements need to be fulfilled:
- Access to high-speed internet
- Satellites for Imagery and Positioning
- Autonomous Vehicles
- Control Systems
- Automated Hardware
Key IoT Development Areas in Agriculture
When the aforementioned requirements are fulfilled, IoT development in agriculture can begin to work its magic. Below are some newer applications of IoT in agriculture:
Controlled Precision Farming
To ensure better yield, it is best to incorporate precision farming in agricultural practices. With the use of sensors, control systems, and robotics backed by reliable IoT data connectivity, it is possible to enhance the quality of the process. Precision farming makes use of techniques like VRI (Variable Rate Irrigation) optimization and soil moisture probes. The optimization of the irrigation process is directly responsible for increasing produce by enhancing water utilization efficiency. The soil probes can offer agronomy support along with providing recommendations to farmers.
Monitoring of Cattle
Livestock monitoring in real-time can provide timely updates to farmers about the health of animals. It can help a farmer in many ways. For instance, if a cow or sheep is found to be sick, it is possible to separate it from the herd to prevent the spread of the disease. The use of IoT technology can prevent mass epidemics that can wipe out a major chunk of cattle population.
Use of Drone Technology
Drones flying over a farm can monitor the quality of crops and provide beneficial updates to the farmers. Some of the advantages of drones in agriculture are crop health imaging, integrated GIS mapping and mass-level monitoring of crops in real-time. Crop health imaging instantly gives farmers an indication about the current crop conditions. Real-time monitoring and GIS mapping give a clear idea to farmers about what’s going on and what needs to be done.
Data Analytics for Improving the Yield
It is almost impossible to store the large amount of data generated via IoT sensors on traditional hard drives and storage systems. Therefore, IoT development on the cloud platform becomes extremely important. The SaaS based IoT platform allows for the storage of tremendous amount of data as it saves data across multiple datacenters. With high-quality data analytics capabilities, it is possible to analyze climate conditions, livestock and the nature of soil of farmland. All the data processed via data analytics aids IoT development and the resultant decisions, as it provides pertinent turnkey information that can be readily put to use. Case in point being, it becomes easier to analyze the condition of crops at any particular instant as the data is streamed in real-time from sensors. Also, the trend analysis done on temperature and weather conditions help farmers ascertain what the weather would be like in the coming days.
IoT use in Greenhouse
Greenhouses have been used for a long time to increase agriculture productivity. It has been seen that manual intervention in the greenhouse process leads to a reduction in production of food grains. An intelligent IoT network, on the other hand, can serve as a catalyst to improve the production considerably. With sensors and monitoring devices like pH and moisture sensors integrated with the greenhouse, it is possible to control the climate, optimize irrigation and constantly improve the quality of soil for deriving the best output. It is even possible to integrate solar-powered IoT sensors, which considerably reduces the amount of money spent on energy procurement.
The pace of IoT development has increased in the past few years. It is high time that we start using it for enhancing the quality of agricultural practices. With the use of many IoT applications like drones and precision farming, it is possible to enhance the quantity and quality of yield to meet the requirements of the future. As farming is not optimized to meet the current food crop requirements of the world, there is a need to bring in new tech like IoT to promote best practices amongst ill-informed farmers. IoT development and IoT data connectivity need to improve simultaneously for the welfare of the world.
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