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With people adopting the Internet of Things (IoT) in all sectors, connected devices are now entering all aspects of our lives – from fitness and health to automotive sand logistics to industrial IoT and smart cities. Therefore, it is logical for internet of things sensors and devices to find their application in the agricultural sector. No one would want to rely on a plows and horses when self-driving vehicles and virtual reality are a daily occurrence.

IoT Application in Agriculture

Uses of Internet of things in agriculture are endless. Smart devices can help farmers increase the performance of their farms and their revenue in a variety of ways. However, the application of IoT apps is not as easy as it sounds. As a farmer, you should expect many challenges. Here are the uses of IoT in agriculture:

Precision Farming

Widely known as “precision agriculture,” precision farming is anything that makes farming practices (growing of crops and raising of livestock) more accurate and controlled. In this form of farming, IoT is the key component and some gadgets like robotics, control systems, sensors, automated hardware, autonomous vehicles and variable rate technology offer great results.  Soil moisture monitoring technology offers complete local agronomy support in addition to recommendations that can help optimize the efficiency of water usage.

Plant and field real-time monitoring

Complex approaches of Internet of Things products in agriculture are representable with productivity management systems of a farm. The systems include various agricultural IoT sensors and devices (which farmers install on their premises), powerful dashboards that can analyse data in addition to in-built reporting/accounting features.

That allows farmers to monitor their farms remotely and to streamline most of their farm operations. FarmLogs and Cropio also present similar solutions. Other prominent opportunities include storage management, vehicle tracking and logistics.

Weather Prediction

Actually, weather stations that combine a variety of smart farming sensors are the commonest smart agricultural gadgets. In the field, these gadgets collect a wide range of environmental data and forward it to the cloud. Farmers can use the offered measurements to map climatic conditions, make informed plant choices and take the needed measures to improve their production capacity.

Agriculture Drones

Individuals are using drones to enhance their agricultural practises. In fact, the use of drones in crop monitoring, irrigation, health assessment, field and soil analysis, planting and crop spraying is high. Use of drones in agriculture comes with many benefits like integrated GIS mapping, health imaging of crops, and ease of use, increased yields and reduction of the needed time.

Livestock Monitoring

In addition to crop monitoring gadgets and software applications, the industry offers IoT gadgets, which farmers can attach to their animals to monitor the log performance and health. For instance, Cowlar and SCR from Allflex deliver health, temperature, and nutrition and activity insights of individual animals and collective information about a herd with use of sensors (collar tags).

Smart Greenhouses

Apart from gathering environmental data, a weather station can adjust conditions automatically to match with provided parameters. Smart greenhouse automation systems also use the principle. For instance, Growlink and Farmapp are IoT products that offer these capabilities. Another interesting product, GreenIQ, uses smart agricultural sensors and devices to control sprinklers. With the gadget, farmers can manage their irrigation and the lighting systems from any place.

Benefits of IoT to Agriculture

Adaptation of Internet of Things in the world of agriculture comes with very many benefits. Most people believed that it would be the first industrial IoT market and the progress is providing farmers with the capability of handling actual information relating to water, soil and crops automatically.

IoT can transforms productivity of farming and improves the economic performance, but that is only possible after the agricultural sector is linked to machine learning and data analytics. In addition to that, the production costs, which include water, seeds, machinery and water, are always increasing. That has stressed the agribusinesses deeply and people are now working to employ the available resources more efficiently and to increase productivity.

It can be hard to reach the optimum level of production if the data gathering methods are manual. Today, technology is playing a crucial role in ensuring easier gathering of data. Sophistication of smart sensors, software applications, internet-enabled devices and cloud storage facilities provides a variety of data types in larger amount for their capturing, storage, manipulation and supply to the decision-supports tools. The data is important when it comes to the control of decision-making processes.

Proper data analysis adds great value to agribusinesses. Extraction of great intelligence happens when a new data set is merged with the existing data sets. Use cases have proved how the combined data sets add value to agribusinesses. A quick example: Crop-monitoring systems together with soil sensors gather data which farmers can couple with the available climate data and use in making decisions that can boost their production levels. In some farms, farmers connect monitoring systems and sensors to automated irrigation systems to prepare the appropriate soil conditions, to facilitate healthy plant growth and to increase the overall productivity.

Moreover, use of technological systems to monitor livestock in firms helps farmers gather real-time information relating to the sheep geolocation, biometric data about their activities, heart rate, blood and some other parameters that can help in decision making about the health of the animals, their reproduction and welfare.

Limitations for IoT in Agriculture

The types and number of challenges relating to smart farming vary across the systems used in agricultural production. Infrastructural limitations are a reality in implementation of IoT. In most areas, poor connectivity is a hindrance. The connectivity comes at a very high cost and slow speeds than expected in the urban centres.

Unavailability of mobile coverage is a major obstacle to adoption of technology. Most people are urging governments to fund establishment of infrastructures in rural areas to ensure equal access. Again, most areas have some form of 3G or 4G connectivity but it is more likely to be poor.

Agricultural leaders have to keep asking themselves how they can get data where and when they require it. And with the increasing number of sensors in the market, they should think of the best way to use them in improving their decision-making processes and increasing their sales.

Where the agricultural Industry is heading

Application of IoT in agriculture is seemingly simple but making a single step can be tough. The most reasonable move involves starting small. IoT is more likely to take the agricultural industry to a higher level. With proper understanding of IoT and the associated risks while still testing your ideas, you will be able to see your agribusiness grow.

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