Smart farms are defined as using modern technology and information to manage them. There are many new technologies available for farmers to use including sensors, software, robotics, GPS, connectivity, and data analytics. Farmers monitor their crops, soil, water, and temperatures without leaving their home. This is often called IOT in farming.
What are some ways IOT applications are changing farming?
- The use of technology has led to smart farming because the applications give farmers a more controlled environment. Computers determine how the farm animals and crops are controlled. Decisions can be made about individual plants and farm animals. Farmers can control or make a decision on square acres or smaller tracts of land lending to the ability to treat crops or animals individually. With livestock, this makes it easier to grow farm animals. They can monitor their feed and location using IOT. Sick animals can be identified sooner and removed from the group to be treated by vets.
- The greenhouse is now automated using IoT applications in farming. The computer controls the temperature, watering and other factors that let farmers grow crops all year round. Information is stored and often needs very little manual work in changing or controlling the growing environment. It helps those located in rural areas have better control over the weather. Climate change has altered weather patterns in many locations. These greenhouses give farmers the ability to grow crops despite the weather or conditions. Many greenhouses are used in foreign countries to grow vegetables and fruits.
- Drones are used in farming both in the ground and in the air. They monitor all types of conditions for farmers. They are used to monitor the soil, spraying, water, and planting. Monitoring the soil helps the farmers add what is needed to help grow their crops grow better. Drones evaluate the temperature, slope of the land, moisture that gives them accurate soil samples. Farmers use this information to make decisions, when replanting crops, thinning, and improving growth. The benefits of IoT in farming is shown using drones.
- The Internet of Food and Farm is an organization that made precision farming possible. It explores the role of IOT in farming and how it will affect farming in Europe in the future. They focus on using technology to improve crops, dairy, meat, and other aspects of farming. They have conferences and provide money for research. Over 120 companies participate in the organization. One of their projects is working on managing the food supply chain using technology and decreasing the consumption of water in the greenhouse. It is changing farming by having all types of farms and business use this new technology.
- How do we decrease water consumption in farming and greenhouses? Some farms reduced water consumption by using soil sensors. Plants are studied and data is collected that is made available to other farmers that plant the same crops. A farm in California reduced water consumption by 6 percent using water sensors. Technology measure water saturation, irrigation, and soil. It makes sure water is never overused in its application. Devine Organics nearly doubled its production of asparagus in the process. Irrigation is a complex process that can lead to under watering plants too. The farm used a wireless sensor that was the size of the crop.
- Livestock tracking is now used more than ever. Recently Samsung has partnered with Herdsy to develop technology that helps raise better cattle all over the world. This handheld tracking device will be used to collect data on cattle that can be used to improve raising them. A tag placed around the neck of the animal monitors their location, heart rate, temperature, movement, and activity level. The information is collected and used to improve raising the cattle. Alerts come when unusual activity is found. This data can be given to vets when the animals get sick. It uses geofencing to track animals to get keep them from getting lost or stolen. The company has had many orders for this device around the world.
- Pest monitoring is another area that technology now helps with. Farmers can monitor pest and act using wireless technology. This technology called Z-Trap uses a lure to attract a large population of insects. It is an actual insect trap or traps that can be set remotely and allows farmers to see the traps virtually. It was designed by Purdue University and has been developed by Spensa Industries. It shows how many bugs have been caught and even trends for future use. The company hopes to reduce the damages done to farm all over the United State by bugs. This is a good example of the role of IOT in farming.
- The benefits of big data in farming are many. It has the potential to increase production by 2050 which is needed to feed the world. Suppliers will be expected to do more with less resources available. Analyzing data in real time will help farmers come up with a new solution to changing problems. They can monitor current weather, soil, rain, and bugs to find the best solutions to the problems. They might be able to prevent outbreaks of disease or insects that destroy their crops. They can develop and tailor a specific product to certain market segments using big data. This data gives them a very competitive advantage.
Farming has made many technological advances since the agricultural age. Today, farmers can quickly determine what is best for their crops, understanding impending weather interactions and impacts, and produce a good product at a fast pace. With IoT making strides in the area of farming, it might not be too far off that the press of a button will be the force behind agricultural growth.