The Internet of Things has become a disruptive force in global sectors, and among the main beneficiaries is agriculture. This article discusses five ways IoT is shaping the future of farming.
With the planet's population projected to exceed nine billion by 2050, it does not take a genius to deduce that food production needs a significant immediate upgrade. According to the United Nations, the global agricultural output must increase by 50% within the next 30 years to remain sustainable.
Because agricultural resources are limited, the only reasonable way to increase production in the long term is to improve efficiency. Fortunately, modern technology now offers farmers the solutions they need to maximize output and revenue.
Smart farming is taking over farming, powered by emerging solutions like big data, artificial intelligence, and most notably, the Internet of Things. With IoT, farmers are gaining better control of crop growing and animal rearing and benefiting from higher yields, lower costs, and efficient resource utilization.
Although IoT developments in agriculture are not as profound as in the home and healthcare segments, the market is steadily growing. Allied Market Research
estimates that agricultural IoT will be valued at $48 billion by 2025, translating to a CAGR of 14% from 2018.
IoT promises to disrupt agriculture and deliver food security to current and future populations amid ravaging climate change. Read on for five remarkable ways IoT is shaping the future of farming.
1. Reliable Climate Monitoring
Thankfully, farms worldwide are increasingly embracing technology to counter the effects of climate change. For instance, IoT weather-monitoring tools enable farms to minimize risks by actively tracking environmental conditions like precipitation and temperature. By analyzing IoT data, farmers can develop accurate weather trends and execute timely responses to changing conditions.
Additionally, IoT sensors embedded in the ground can measure soil moisture levels in real-time, enabling farm managers to estimate water requirements accurately and prevent crop damage from drought.
As climate change increasingly alters global weather patterns, smart farming with IoT will become increasingly valuable for agricultural operations down the road.
2. Effective Pest Management
Pests can be a significant hindrance to farming operations. When inadequately managed, they can cause disappointing and unprofitable growing seasons. FAO estimates
that up to 40% of global crop production is lost to pests every year.
The Internet of Things offers an exceedingly effective way to monitor infestation. With sensors deployed around the farm, IoT systems capture pest presence and their impact on crop health.
AI-powered IoT solutions can even deliver data about pest distribution and behavior, giving farmers valuable insights like how weather patterns affect pest prevalence, which plants are most affected by certain pests, and whether their pesticides are working.
Consequently, farms can implement impactful continuous management efforts rather than soaking their produce with pesticides and hoping for the best.
With agro-IoT developing steadily, farmers can expect even more precise pest monitoring and crop protection tools.
3. Optimum Water Conservation
Irrigated agriculture is the largest water consumer globally, accounting for 70% of worldwide water usage
. However, as much as 40% of this vast volume is lost due to inefficient water management practices.
Businesses utilizing IoT solutions can ensure that their irrigation system works efficiently by using smart sensors to detect leaks and automatically close valves to minimize wastage. Furthermore, soil moisture sensors can help determine how much water plants need at a given time, eliminating over-irrigation.
Meanwhile, larger farms can benefit from remote sprinklers and drip-irrigation systems that autonomously determine how much moisture plants need based on conditions like rainfall and soil type. Besides improving water conservation, these farms can avoid various manual tasks and save operating costs.
Reducing water wastage is a critical action in the sustainability agenda. By using IoT solutions to minimize waste, farmers can significantly contribute to the planet's wellbeing.
4. Increased Farm Efficiency
The sheer size of some farms can present a daunting logistical challenge. It is not uncommon for large-scale agricultural businesses to employ dozens, if not hundreds, of people to oversee everything from planting to harvesting to packaging.
Coordinating the work of so many individuals and ensuring that every process is running smoothly and efficiently can be a challenge. Fortunately, it is one that IoT can help solve.
IoT-enabled sensors and tracking devices can keep tabs on all aspects of farm activity, from soil moisture levels to the ripeness of fruits and vegetables. This information can then be processed and analyzed to provide valuable insights for optimizing harvests, planning for future growth, and even scheduling workers' duties.
For example, the University of Iowa
is working with farmers to develop a "field-scale integrated model" that will use data from a myriad of sensors to help farmers make better decisions about planting, irrigation, and fertilization.
Such a holistic approach to IoT deployment can help farms become more efficient and productive, allowing them to survive in the face of climate change.
5. Enhanced Livestock Monitoring
Keeping track of large livestock numbers is no easy task. Nevertheless, farmers who can pinpoint problematic issues quickly can save time and money by getting ahead of diseases, illnesses, and other problems.
Using IoT to monitor hygiene, diet, behavior, reproduction status, environmental conditions like temperature and humidity, and many other factors can enable farmers to nip problems in the bud before impacting productivity.
IoT can also help gather valuable data about pasture conditions and livestock grazing habits. Combining this information with real-time soil composition for large swaths gives farmers granular insight into suitable pasture lands. As a result, farms can have optimal access to the resources they need to thrive.
Redefine Your Farming Activities with Modern IoT Solutions
The Internet of Things has quite a lot to offer the agricultural sector. It can help mitigate the effects of weather changes, effectively manage pests, optimize water usage, increase farm efficiency, keep track of herds, and much more.
Although agro-IoT is still in its early days, its potential is highly promising. IoT-enabled sensors are becoming more affordable, and the data they collect is as sophisticated as ever. With AI, this data will only become more valuable in helping farmers make informed decisions that improve their operations and protect their livelihoods.
The agricultural sector is set for further dramatic changes as innovation advances and more farmers embrace technology. If you are keen on improving your farming operations with new technologies, you can benefit significantly by leveraging IoT agro-facing solutions.
Take a step closer to upgrading your farm by creating a free IoT2Market