The agriculture industry has seen a lot of change in the last few decades, from GMO’s to pesticides. This is because we are using more technology than ever before to grow our food. The next step for farming is the Internet of Things (IoT). With IoT sensors, farmers can get real time data about their crops and make better decisions on how to harvest them. This article will explore what exactly IoT Sensors are and how they work so that you can decide if this technology would be beneficial for a farm.
In a previous article we’ve covered the subject of precision agriculture/precision farming, which is the most popular use cases of IoT-based smart farming.
How IoT can be used in agriculture
Two ways that IoT can be used in agriculture include providing real time data about your crops and helping farmers make better decisions on how to harvest their plants. Instead of relying on estimations and guesswork, farmers can now use this system to monitor their crops. They can then make predictions about when they will ripen and optimize the amount of water used for irrigation in order to grow high quality produce.
The technology behind IoT sensors is also helpful outside of agriculture because you can track temperature, humidity levels, plant diseases and more without having people spend all day monitoring readings manually.
Provides real time data about crops
The data collected by the IoT sensors can provide a real-time picture of what’s going on in the field. This means that farmers will be able to know when their crops are ripe, how much water is being used and if an irrigation system is needed, soil health, and whether they need more fertilizer or any other input.
Helps farmers make better decisions on how to harvest their plants
The ability to have greater knowledge about his or her field allows a farmer to better predict future yields, which helps him accurately plan for storage needs and anticipate demand next season. As well-planned fields lead to higher crop yields per acre than those with poor planning skills (a yield gap of 60%), this kind of information is invaluable.
Examples of IoT devices in Agriculture
We’ve had the opportunity to work with many companies in our Collaborators Program. This program highlights several different use cases our clients have deployed in various industries. Smart agriculture is an industry that is rapidly growing and relies heavily on IoT to efficiently monitor, measure and analyze data.
Agricultural drones are a great way to capture aerial imagery of crops.
UAVs can be deployed for crop monitoring, detecting nutrient deficiencies and also scouting. With the help of GPS coordinates, farmers could use this data to optimize their farm management decisions.
Grain Bin Monitoring
Grain bin monitoring solutions are used to help farmers monitor their grain and prevent spoilage.
The technology consists of a sensor or series of sensors that measure the level and moisture content in grains, such as corn.
This information is then relayed back to an app on a tablet or computer where it can be viewed by the farmer for analysis.
Grain bins have been traditionally monitored using manual sampling methods which are time-consuming, labor intensive and expensive when scaled up to larger farms.
A lot of food may be lost after harvest due to spoilage, these IoT sensors represent one way forward into helping reduce waste while potentially increasing profits for farmers globally.
Our MB7051-800 sensor is a go-to for grain bin level monitoring.
Water Level Measurement for Tanks & Silos
It’s important to maintain the water level in tanks and silos for both agricultural use and industrial purposes. Our sensor line is a go-to solution when it comes to measuring the depth of liquid, detecting leaks or monitoring changes over time.
Water measurement in tanks or silos to make sure the liquid stays at an optimal depth. For agricultural purposes, it’s used to measure the amount of water available on a farm so that crops have access to enough hydration while conserving as much water as possible.
Our sensors are specially made with this use case in mind for reliable measurement of water depth.
Why We Need Smart Agriculture
The world population is expected to increase from the current level of just over seven billion people to nine or ten billion by 2050. That’s a lot more mouths to feed, and there simply won’t be enough resources left if we don’t start smart agriculture now.
IoT sensors can help farmers monitor their crops in real-time so that they know exactly how much water and nutrients each plant needs at any given time – not too little and not too much. This means less waste for the environment while maximizing food production with sustainable methods that are good for both humans and animals alike.
Understanding predictive analytics for smart farming
Predictive analytics are the key to understanding how our food is grown, and IoT can help in this regard. Farmers use predictive analytics to track crop growth patterns over time so that they know when it’s time for a new planting cycle or if there will be enough rain for their current crops. Predictive analytics also helps farmers understand which seeds work best with certain soils, weather conditions, and growing locations – all of which play major roles in agriculture.
You could say that smart sensors will save us from starving while ensuring sustainability at every turn.
Data Security in the Agriculture Industry
Data security in the agriculture industry is of utmost importance.
Data collected on a single farm can be sensitive because it includes information about what that farmer has planted and grown, how much water they use, their fertilizer usage, etc. The data must stay private to avoid competition between farmers and so that people don’t steal trade secrets from one another’s farms. So not only do we need IoT sensors to collect these important agricultural metrics – but those sensors also need to have robust cybersecurity measures built into them like encryption and password protection features.
Using an end-to-end farm management system
Farm management systems are the backbone of any modern agriculture operation. They’re designed to help farmers make important decisions about their farms – for example, when’s the best time to harvest or spray pesticides? And they also allow them to track and analyze all kinds of data coming from IoT sensors on their land so that they can maximize production while cutting back on costs. But how exactly do these farm management systems work?
In order for a farmer to have access to an end-to-end system, he or she must first install communications infrastructure such as GSM/GPRS cellular networks in his fields (or use satellite communication) which then allows him or her internet connectivity. Then he installs some kind of gateway device with a high-speed wireless connection and the cloud-based software.
A farmer can then use this system to monitor his or her crops, make predictions about when they will ripen, and optimize the amount of water used. In addition, it’s possible for farmers to remotely control their machinery – such as tractors that are harvesting produce and a milk truck bringing in fresh dairy products from an outlying farm.
As we continue to move into a more connected world with smarter devices in every household, it’s easy to see how IoT sensors could be used in agricultural settings. They can be installed along irrigation systems or inside greenhouses where they then monitor temperature, humidity levels, crop health and so much more—helping farmers proactively take care of their crops as opposed to continually reacting when things go wrong. As such technologies improve and become ever-less expensive over time, smart farming will undoubtedly change.
Not sure if our sensors would be the right fit for your application?
Click the button below to contact our team to discuss your project needs.