What is Smart Agriculture?
Smart agriculture is a broad term that covers agriculture and food production practices powered by technologies like IoT sensors, automation, big data, and advanced analytics technology. The most common IoT applications in smart agriculture are:
- Sensor-based systems that monitor crops, soil, fields, livestock, or any essential factor influencing production
- Smart autonomous agriculture vehicles, drones, robots, and actuators
- Connected agriculture spaces such as smart storage facilities, greenhouses, or hydroponics
- Data analytics, visualization, and management systems
- Predictive maintenance, modeling, and planning
What is driving Smart Agriculture?
- The UN projects that the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050, which will cause global agricultural production to rise 69% between 2010 and 2050.
- Farmers and agricultural companies are turning to the Internet of Things for analytics and improved production capabilities to meet the growing demand.
- The global smart agriculture market size was valued at $16,746.7 million in 2019, and is estimated to reach $29,234.6 million by 2027 with a CAGR of 9.7% from 2021 to 2027.
- The application of IoT in agriculture could be a life-changer for humanity and the whole planet.
What are the benefits of Smart Agriculture?
Smart agriculture improves decision-making and increases productivity
The increasing adoption of smart farming techniques — leveraging sensors, smart gateways, and monitoring systems to collect and analyze information — helps inform decisions that drive productivity improvements, even under adverse circumstances. It is now possible to create a sensor network allowing for almost continuous monitoring of the farm.
Innovative IoT applications help to increase yields while improving food safety and delivery. From crop and livestock monitoring to water management, farm-to-fork regulatory compliance, and more, IoT and other innovative technologies work together to provide accurate data providing more informed decisions, increased automation, cost rationalization, and streamlined regulatory compliance. As a result, even the most minor changes can significantly impact the business’s health and productivity.
Smart agriculture and IoT mean sustainable business
Climate change will significantly impact agricultural production. Extreme weather and heat will require changes in methods and types of crops, and new technologies like IoT will play a significant role for farms to increase yield and improve efficiency.
Agriculture consumes nearly 70% of the world’s freshwater. Since water scarcity is becoming an increasingly significant problem globally, the efficient utilization of water is critical. IoT applications such as smart irrigation systems will help save water by up to 10% in agricultural applications. Therefore, leveraging IoT for water conservation will be a significant trend in the future of agriculture.
Smart agricultural technologies help optimize resources such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, fuel, energy consumption, and human labor. Real-time data and advanced analytics provide the necessary detailed information about “what,” “how, much,” and “where” to achieve cost reduction while at the same time reduce the ecological footprint of farming.
Open field for IoT
Use IoT data from sensors and smart analytics to evaluate current practices and improve greater efficiency and effectiveness. Various smart farming applications include crop observation, vehicle tracking, irrigation management, livestock management, and storage monitoring. Some examples:
- Monitor and control irrigation management to maximize efficiency, reduce nutrient and fertilizer leaching loss, reduce waste, and cut operational costs.
- Use precision agriculture to measure and respond to crops and soil variations in and between fields.
- Track data, trends, and conditions to determine which seeds to plant and when to harvest.
- Control pests and utilize organic farming techniques such as pheromone delivery to disrupt mating patterns.
- Add external data sources like weather services in combination with detailed historical and real-time local data to, for instance, predict moisture levels, freezing risk, and similar events.
- Monitor the location, well-being, and health of individual animals and adjust their nutrition accordingly, preventing disease and enhancing herd health.
Unfortunately, these systems are often isolated end-to-end applications from different suppliers, preventing data synchronization. Without the full set of data, the analytics and decision-making will be incomplete. IoT data must be accessible and unified in real-time to be adequate for optimization purposes.
Improved transparency for consumers
Smart agriculture also has the potential to boost consumer acceptance. IoT tools mine valuable data within and beyond the farm to maximize asset utilization and increase product quality and customer value.
As a result, these products are not only healthier but can also sell at higher prices. In addition, the transparency of production, processing, and transportation will increase with the registration in, for instance, blockchain-based applications. Information like which farm produced a specific product under exact circumstances and what has happened during transport from the farm to storage and the store offers new, more direct forms of interaction among farmers and consumers.
As consumers continue to demand greater access to better food on-demand, food producers must continue to find innovative ways of providing safe, healthy, and ethical solutions. IoT devices, big data analytics, and blockchain give food manufacturers powerful technological solutions to solve complex problems. In addition, large retail and food companies such as Walmart and Domino’s are investing to ensure that food is produced, prepared, and distributed, focusing on health and safety. As these technologies continue to become embraced by leading food producers, consumers will be able to know what they’re eating, where it’s from, and whether it’s safe and healthy.