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IoT in Agriculture: 7 Practical Uses of the Technology

Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the economy, and the efficient use of opportunities provided by technological advancements has always been the foundation for sustainable growth and development of this industry.

The Internet of Things technology is both changing such areas as manufacturing, healthcare, insurance, and some others often discussed sectors and promises fundamental changes in agriculture. Product quality, higher crop yields, resource conservation, and cost control are but a few ways that the Internet of Things promises to transform in the agriculture industry and food production in the nearest future.

In this article, we will take a closer look at all the options for using IoT in agriculture and tell you how this technology can reshape the industry.

1. Pest control

Drone Pest control

Weed and pest control has always been an essential component of crop growing. The modern market already features systems helping farmers to stick to the required pesticide application rates and make the process as efficient as possible. For instance, special traps allow crop producers to control the situation with pests in the fields, showing them the real number of insects in the area, automatically calculating specimens in the trap.

When there are too many of them, farmers get a notification. The system can be configured to spray plant protection products from special dispensers at a certain time point to prevent further reproduction of pests and crop destruction.

As pesticides are rather expensive, such technologies allow saving on their application. Data acquisition is another major advantage. Based on observations done during the growing season, a dedicated software product can calculate which areas need substantial chemical treatment and where the crops can do without it.

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2. Automatic irrigation

Smart irrigation (sensors)

Currently, widely used drip irrigation systems allow farmers to control the amount of water that crops receive and the time of water supply to the field. By adding IoT sensors to existing irrigation systems to monitor soil moisture levels and plants condition, farmers can make such systems almost completely autonomous. They will have to intervene in the process exclusively in case of some issues.

In arid areas, the water management function controlled by IoT technologies allows farms to intelligently manage limited water supplies, build an optimal irrigation strategy, and use water resources more efficiently.

3. Crop harvesting, storage, and processing

Smart agriculture storage

Geological mapping technologies combined with sensor data on soil quality, density, moisture levels and, fertility help agribusinesses minimize the chance factor when sowing seeds. This approach increases germination rates, plant growth, and resulting yields.

Using seed drills combined with autonomous tractors and IoT systems transmitting data on the sowing process to the farmer will allow just one person to sow whole fields. Moreover, farmers can control machinery operation via video broadcasting or a digital control panel on a computer/tablet.

Proper agricultural product storage and processing is another important aspect of crop production. Adequate storage conditions reduce the loss of raw materials and prevent their depreciation. Automation of such processes as product cleaning, sorting, and processing can significantly increase the crop storage time.

4. Livestock monitoring

Livestock IoT monitoring

Special collars and other sensors allow cattle farm owners to monitor both the whole herd and individual animals. Using IoT sensors, farmers can implement the following things:

  • monitoring collective data on the herd;
  • warning about animal walking beyond the geofence;
  • tracking animal health;
  • monitoring milk production, etc.

For instance, based on the analysis of the data obtained, pregnant or sick animals can be identified to timely separate them from the herd and prevent the spread of the disease.

5. Automated smart greenhouses

Smart greenhouse (IoT microcontrollers)

A smart greenhouse is a fully automated construction designed to facilitate the process of growing crops and minimize manual labor. The facility like this includes IoT microcontrollers, sensors, and apps.

To control the environment in an intelligent greenhouse, various sensors are used to measure environmental parameters and automatically control operating mechanisms like turning on fans, adjusting the flow of light, controlling heating, etc. Using WiFi, these parameters can also be managed remotely.

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6. Transport and special machinery monitoring and control

Self-driving tractor

Using IoT, it is possible to efficiently control the transport fleet owned by an agribusiness of any scale:

  • accounting of hours worked by employees and machinery;
  • route planning;
  • field yield assessment based on data on combine hopper loading;
  • fuel consumption accounting, serviceability, and operating modes monitoring;
  • GPS location tracking.

Besides, farmers can control several vehicles as a single group and make changes to the settings (such as speed threshold) applied to all vehicles in the group.

7. Agricultural drones

Drones in Agriculture

Agribusinesses can use unmanned aerial vehicles to assess crop health, as well as monitor crop growth, planting campaigns, irrigation, and fertilizer application. UAVs equipped with thermal or multispectral sensors successfully identify areas requiring changes in irrigation.

Drones simplify real-time data acquisition and processing and reduce the cost of the processes, for example, aimed at mapping and visualizing the crop condition. This technology holds great potential to modernize the agricultural industry, using high-tech advancements.

Summarizing the above said, we can pinpoint 5 key benefits of using IoT in agriculture:

  • the possibility to get a full picture of the farm, as well as identify potential problems and possible growth points;
  • risk reduction due to monitoring machinery condition and its wear level;
  • maximizing business profitability due to manual work reduction and yield enhancement;
  • acquiring a large amount of useful data allowing farmers to make strategically correct decisions;
  • improving business performance due to the automation of multiple processes.

Agriculture is one of the economic sectors where businesses start to rapidly implement the Internet of Things technology all over the world. Smart devices open up great prospects for development and become an important competitive advantage because they automate labor-intensive processes, save resources, and make accurate forecasts necessary for strategically important decisions.

At Lvivity, we can help you optimize your company’s activities by providing comprehensive services for IoT solution development, starting from equipment design and finishing with software development, testing, and integration.

To get professional advice from our experts, contact us using our feedback form on the website.

Lvivity Team

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