Internet of Agriculture


The Ground

If the first decade of 21st century was overwhelmed by Social Media, Ecommerce and Cloud as a Service. The coming decades will surely be remembered for the Internet of Things concept. This looks like a hitherto unknown term but it was first introduced as long back as 1999 by Kevin Ashton, executive director of the Auto-ID Center.

Internet of Things hereby referred to as IOT is simply put, a network of every possible thing. Yes you read it right, every possible thing. So IOT is a connection of heart beat of a fish in the church’s pond to the temperature of Lava on the Canary island and the atmospheric pressure on Mt. Everest to the personal messages of your facebook’s account!!

With the infinite possibility of IPv6 addresses even if every molecule on our globe is given an IP address over internet, still we will have enough of addresses left for assignment to scores of other planets. Hence IOT is possible as IPv6 exists.

IOT is a network of smart or RFID devices that can interact with each other digitally and send/receive signals for data steps to be taken as per the requirements of the business, generally. Connection of devices opens up new paradigms of business, leisure, knowledge and insights into disruptive things possible. It opens up a plethora of possibilities that can change the way we think , act and believe.

IOT in Agriculture

Meet Ramon Rodd, a 3rd generation family farmer who resides in Eastern Nebraska with his mother, wife and three kids. He owns about 2000 acres of farm land and harvests everything from wheat, jute, soya, and fruits to data – yes data. This data emanates from GPS satellites, sensors on his tractors and field.

They stream real-time data that is stored in cloud-based systems and which can be easily accessed via charts and reports on his iPad’s dashboard.

“As a new age farmer today, I need to take advantage of the sensors, apps on the mobile and tablet and all that useful data they stem out. They help accurately answer questions about which seeds to plant, when to harvest and how much yield to expect. They are tools as important to me as my harvester and tractor.” says Ramon.

His mother adds “During my days, if you could use a wrench, you were considered good enough to be a farmer. Times have changed now for the better! By adopting technology in agriculture successfully, we have been able to grow our land from 300 acres when I started to 2000 acres now.”

Basically, The internet of things( IOT) in agriculture consists of three layers which are perceive, transportation and application. The perceive layer is used to acquire the information of crops, soil and environment.

The transportation layer is used to establish the transportation network of IOT in agriculture by examining the techniques like GPRS, Zigbee, WIFI, Bluetooth and the intelligent networking methods. The process layer focuses on the intelligent management of agriculture including multidimensional information fusion, intelligent decision and automatic control et al.

The IOT is transforming the agriculture industry and enabling farmers to contend with the enormous challenges they face. The industry must overcome increasing water shortages, limited availability of lands, difficult to manage costs, while meeting the increasing consumption needs of a global population that is expected to grow by 70% by 2050. (Reference: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

New innovative IOT applications are addressing these issues and increasing the quality, quantity, sustainability and cost effectiveness of agricultural production.

Today’s large and local farms can, for example, leverage IOT to remotely monitor sensors that can detect soil moisture, crop growth and livestock feed levels, remotely manage and control their smart connected harvesters and irrigation equipment, and utilize artificial intelligence based analytics to quickly analyze operational data combined with 3rd party information, such as weather services, to provide new insights and improve decision making.

All of these insights take a lot of different data sources to create - A case in point is aWhere, An agricultural technology company that ingests data from a myriad of different sources and then needs to expose its aggregated and analyzed data for third parties to create solutions from. Now API(application program interface) management is, therefore, necessary both on inbound and outbound data.

Offloading the cost and complexity of managing this API footprint is an attractive proposition for aWhere.With the usage of aWhere IOT software kit Some of the ideas that have been brought to life are:

  • One sugarcane customer monitored soil for irrigation purposes. This idea is now being fully developed into a working model.
  • Even In the cattle industry, a company that works with over 100 farms uses the kit to automate trough refills so farmers do not need to manually check water and food levels.
  • A company that distributes crop fertilizer uses the kit to measure the amount of fertilizer across crops. Traditionally, crop dusting has been solely dependent on a pilot’s flying experience. With the aWhere API in place, sensors are placed in the ground. Information collected from the sensors is sent to a virtual map in the cockpit via the cloud, guiding the pilot in real-time

The IOT can be used to help determine when, where and how much water is needed in agricultural irrigation in times of El Nino as well as drought. It can also help livestock farming be done smarter. Deployment of an IOT network can make energy use more efficient and less costly in many aspects of farming.  

Although the IOT cannot change the type of soil where a crop is grown, it can provide actionable information to make water use more efficient and less wasteful, particularly in places where water is scarce. Time is even to IOTify our farms now.

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