Agritech: improving the yields from the fields with IoT
I feel I always have to preface any blog I write on agritech with an explanation as to why I’m cheering on the use of technology in one of the world’s oldest industries, which for centuries worked pretty well without connected cows and satellite-driven machinery!
Well, things are changing, and following the last year we’ve all endured, now more so than ever. And for farmers, I don’t even just mean COVID here. I mean Brexit and any agricultural trade deals us Brits had with the EU. And veganism: on the rise year-on-year with a record 500,000 people having pledged to take part in Veganuary this year. Times are tough, and for farmers, with more red tape and paperwork to cut through – and still no control over the weather – this means two things are needed: efficiencies and diversification.
I’m afraid I’m not going to talk about diversification today. That’s another blog, for another time. Instead, I want to talk efficiencies, and specifically how to drive them using innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT).
The prevalence of the IoT has touched every industry, from healthcare to banking, from manufacturing to automotive. In fact, mobile operator Ericsson forecasts the total number of IoT connections worldwide will grow to nearly 27 billion by the year 2026, which is over a 100% increase on the number of connections in 2020.
In farming, IoT technology has made great strides already to revolutionise the sector. Let’s have a look at some examples:
- Monitoring climate conditions. Whether this is refers to the weather outside, or the climate in greenhouses, farmers can install sensors which collect data on climate conditions which can be analysed by specialist software, providing the farmer with detailed reports that can prevent crop losses. Within greenhouses, farmers can also use automation systems which adjust equipment to provide the most appropriate condition for each greenhouse.
- Crop care. Like monitoring climate conditions, sensors for crop monitoring collect a wealth of data on things like crop health, humidity, precipitation, and temperature. I’ve discussed this previously in a blog on smart farming, but precision farming – using data to help farmers identify the best course of action and timescale – has proven very helpful in terms of increasing yields from the fields.
- Livestock tracking. Through smart tags or collars, the IoT has given farmers real-time visibility on their livestock, at all times. This has particularly helped remote farmers, and those susceptible to livestock loss through rustling or predator attacks.
Through connective technology like the IoT, farmers can achieve more in less time, and more importantly, make ‘smart’ decisions based on meaningful data, which enable them to farm at the best time and in the best way, to help reap the best results.
Our client Gurtam, for example, uses GPS tracking combined with IoT technology to set up geofences on arable fields, to then monitor and record crop rotation and the history of cultivations for each piece of land.
Gurtam’s software, Wialon, can then calculate the fuel consumption, speed, and mileage of farm machinery for each field, and then report this back to the farmer, who is then equipped to make ‘smart’ decisions based on the performance – or underperformance – of the land and machinery.
When we talk about efficiencies, it’s generally known to refer to time and money – both of which, farmers are usually lacking!
IoT in agriculture is offering a solution to farmers however, giving them a competitive advantage, and helping them create economically viable, sustainable, and more environmentally friendly businesses. With a growing population to feed, and possible ventures into diversification requiring farmers to juggle their time even more, implementing agricultural IoT solutions is a very smart step forward.
If you’re an agritech company specialising in technology like the IoT, and you want to boost visibility among your core target market, do get in touch with Babel about how a communications strategy could support you in reaching and engaging with that audience.
For further reading on agritech: