• Team Business-360°

Exploring the Role of IoT in Modern Day Agriculture

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

In a world where everything works at the click of a button and can be remotely controlled and monitored, it only makes sense that modern day agricultural practices should not be far behind. Statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) of the United Nations show a grim need for increasing food production by 70% by 2050 to feed the growing human population on our planet, predicted to be 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.6 billion by the year 2050.

This is where IoT (Internet of Things) technology for smart farming comes into play. In simpler terms, this refers to the use of cloud based precision farming such as sensors for monitoring optimal soil conditions, land mapping and livestock management using drones and cameras, automated irrigation as well as controlled greenhouse farming.

Benefits of Smart Agriculture

While smart farming technology is capital intensive and involves the initial training of manpower, the long term benefits listed below far outweigh the upfront investment:

  • Increased production capacity

  • Lower operational costs and higher efficiency

  • Sustainable farming practices lowering the carbon footprint

  • Resilient agricultural systems leading to a consistently good quality crop

  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

  • Lesser waste on farms

Solutions based on IoT assist in making projections using a system of data collection and diagnoses, which leads to better decisions and actions. It’s time for the agriculture industry to see some of these advantages that help increase yield in a cost efficient way.

Key Drivers of Tech in the Agriculture Industry

Like many aspects of the food industry, agriculture is long overdue for a complete overhaul and modernization of its systems and processes. However in the last few decades, the need for technological advances in farming have been strongly highlighted due to changing conditions:

  1. Limited natural resources like water and arable soil. This is probably one of the strongest drivers since sensor technology which monitors soil humidity, moisture, light and temperature offers key solutions to basic problems.

  2. Declining agricultural workforce due to urban migration and increasing labor costs leading to lower availability of well-trained workers on farms.

  3. Increasing population demand remains a looming reality and pushes forward the agenda for IoT in smart farming.

  4. Many countries around the globe are facing depleting agriland due to climate change and other areas of human development.

  5. Unpredictability of the quality and quantity of crop yield in traditional farming.

IoT Based Applications for Smart Agriculture

Around the world, great strides have been made in the area of IoT based applications which can already be seen in large and small farming operations alike. While the benefits are most

pronounced in large agricultural enterprises, the effects of smart farming are seen in smaller operations where reducing costs while increasing output become more significant. IoT technology is used for farming in tight urban spaces - think of growing crops on vertical building walls and rooftop farming. In addition, family and small organic farms use smart technology to make predictable projections to increase output. Another area of smart farming application is community-supported agriculture (or CSAs) which solve the needs of a local area, thus reducing carbon footprint.

While smart farming is in a nascent stage in many parts of the developing world, the three core areas of applications are moving forward at a fast pace.

Cloud-Based Smart Farming Technology

The use of precision technologies like sensors, monitors and irrigation automation in farming has come a long way. Larger farming operations are bringing in advanced solutions like autonomous vehicles, robotics and crop metrics to help farmers make strategic decisions.

Use of Drones and Cameras in Agriculture

Drones have the capacity to offer the hi-tech overhaul needed in the farming industry. They vastly reduce the physical burden on large farming operations, giving farmers the ability to make informed decisions while saving precious time, thus leading to exponentially increased output. Agricultural drones and on-ground cameras monitor and survey large swaths of agriland to maintain crop health, nutrient composition of the soil, crop spraying, planting and harvesting.

Managing Livestock and Cattle on Farms

While we all remember the lonely shepherd roaming the land while tending to his cattle, today’s technology offers many more advantages to ranchers and livestock farmers. One of the main uses are for cattle location and fence management to ensure the safety and well-being of the herd. In addition, these technologies are developing in the areas of disease management and birthing of livestock.

With its vast resources, India is an emerging force in the area of smart farming. About 60-70% of the country has a rural population that depends on agriculture, which offers a stunning opportunity for growth by using IoT technologies. Some top IoT companies in India like BharatAgri, Agrowave and Fasal among others, are emerging as key agritech players in taking this agenda forward. By improving the standards and bringing in technological advances in farming, the lives of the entire country can be elevated. Keeping in mind that India accounts for 17.7% of the world’s population, the ripple effects of the country embracing smart farming practices will be felt globally.

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