By the year 2050, the global population is set to touch 9.6 billion. With such a huge population, one major challenge the world is going to face is feeding the 9.6 billion people. Add to it the many challenges that plague the farming industry such as the change in climatic conditions, extreme weather conditions and impact on the environment due to intensive farming practices which have to be overcome in order to meet the demand for more food.
Internet of Things (IoT) the technology associated with smart cities, connected devices and efficient industries is capable of transforming our future and can have the greatest impact on the agricultural sector. The past couple of decades has seen a number of mechanical innovations in the form of tractors and harvesters. It is going to continue into the future with new innovative ideas and technological advancements playing a big role in increasing the agricultural production at low costs.
Smart Farming using IoT
If you are wondering what is smart farming? It is the application of modern information and communication technologies (ICT) into agricultural practices which helps to increase yields and allocate better resources. Smart farming using IoT opens the door wide open for the farmers and is highly efficient than the conventional agricultural practices. IoT based smart farming involves the use of sensor-based systems that help in more productive and sustainable agricultural yield.
What are the best ways IoT can help the agriculture sector?
The factors that determine crop growth and produce vary from region to region. Though the farmers are aware of this, they lack the tools and techniques to measure and manage these variations accurately. Precision farming which is all about managing the variations precisely in the field to get more food produce using fewer resources and at low costs is the most famous application of IoT in agriculture.
The agricultural industry has started using IoT for improved yields, better farming practices and to get more profits. IoT can make farming more streamlined and predictable. IoT based smart farming involves the use of sensors in farm equipment and the farm, provides real-time data, and offers advanced analytics for taking any corrective as well as preventive measures.
The combination of drones and IoT has the potential to bring about major advancements in the agricultural sector. Internet-connected drones can be useful in a multitude of ways to the farmers.
- They can be used to lay precise 3D maps which are useful for planting seeds.
- In the analysis of soil, to provide data for managing nitrogen levels in the soil and for irrigation.
- They can be used to shoot pod with seeds as well as plant nutrients into the soil.
- Identify the parts of the field that are dry or requires improvements
- Precise crop monitoring
The data obtained from wireless IoT applications regarding the location, health, and well-being of the cattle help the ranchers in saving costs involved in livestock monitoring. The data obtained from agricultural IoT applications can be used to identify the sick animals so they can be kept away from the herd to prevent the spread of the disease. The ranchers can easily identify the location of the cattle without involving extra labor costs.
Factors affecting the growth of the plants are endless. A farmer is left with the choice of monitoring the crops 24/7 by hiring an army of agricultural laborers or stop farming. There’s also another option which is the connected greenhouse. Farmers can entrust the tasks of monitoring plant development and light management to smart agricultural sensors and applications. Smart sensors can capture data on irrigation, plant growth, pesticide usage and lighting and send it to a cloud server that can be accessed by the farmers remotely. This eliminates the requirement for constant monitoring manually. The cloud-based server can also initiate a control action by processing the data on its own without any manual intervention.
The IoT based smart farming has many benefits for the farmers and can be the solution to meet the growing food demands of the ever-increasing population. But the IoT based smart farming is so far restricted to the developed nations such as the US and UK. There is a need to educate the farmers elsewhere in the world to shift to IoT based agricultural practices to overcome the challenges which are plaguing the agricultural sector.