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CEO at Relevant

Farming Done Right: Top 5 Applications of IoT in Agriculture

IoT

Are you an executive of an agricultural business looking to increase the yields of crops ever further? Or a farmer looking to maximize the efficiency of your work? Or any other professional concerned with improving farming productivity? IoT-based smart agriculture can help you deal with this challenge. 

Using IoT in agriculture can also help overcome various global issues. According to UN forecasts, agricultural productivity must rise 200% by 2050 to meet the demands of Earth’s growing population. 

Meanwhile, doubling current yields through land expansion alone is impossible, which confirms the need for minimizing the wasting of resources and maximizing harvests. Agriculture automation using IoT can be the key to this, and this is the direction most agriculture IoT companies are moving in nowadays. 

Read on to find out how to use IoT in agriculture efficiently and discover five examples of IoT applications helping transform the farming industry today.

How IoT is transforming the agricultural sector

Due to its vast innovative potential, IoT can disrupt the agriculture industry, and we are already witnessing this transformation today. While still mostly in its infancy, using IoT in agriculture shows huge potential, and the market for IoT solutions is steadily growing around the world.

IoT farming market overview

Smart farming largely revolves around the concept of precision agriculture—combining temporal, geospatial, and individual data to optimize per-field resource usage and ensure maximum productivity of all processes. As the 2020 Agriculture IoT Market report states, precision agriculture is currently the leading market segment by a large margin, and it is poised to remain this way. 

The report also says the global market size for agriculture IoT products is expected to reach nearly $33 billion by 2027, mostly driven by government efforts to support small-scale farmers and establish connected farming. 

One of the biggest hindrances to the IoT implementation has previously been the absence of 5G coverage. But various government and private initiatives, such as Starlink, aim to provide low-latency, reliable 5G coverage across the globe. So the future is more than promising. 

According to Meticulous Research, the global market of agriculture IoT products is expected to reach nearly $33 billion by 2027.

The COVID-19 pandemic further showcased the need for highly automated remote farming technology that will be largely independent of manual labor. This means that instead of trying to maximize yields through expanding, agricultural businesses should aim to minimize the waste of limited resources and ensure optimal cost-efficiency of farming through automation. 

What are the benefits of IoT in agriculture?

Depending on the goal of IoT implementation and technology used, you can expect various benefits for your company. Let’s take a look at how using the Internet of Things in agriculture can help increase the efficiency and profitability of farming:

  • Big data collection. This is possible thanks to the availability of various sensors, from soil quality or air humidity in greenhouses to cattle health and crop growth. Getting real-time statistics to web dashboards or IoT mobile apps can help track equipment and staff productivity, as well as overall business performance.
  • Better control of production processes. This enables predictive planning. When you know exactly how many tons of crops you’ll have during a particular season, it’ll be much easier to sell them in advance.
  • Waste reduction and risk mitigation. Agriculture crop monitoring using IoT, as well as tracking your livestock health in real-time, helps minimize wasted resources and nip risks in the bud to prevent losing your yield.
  • Production automation. With IoT devices for agriculture, you can automate various repetitive and time-consuming processes, like irrigation, fertilization, or crop pest control, and, thus, increase overall production efficiency.
  • Increased quality and volume of farming produce. Combining all the above results in a better quality of produce, less wasted resources, and better yields.
5 Key Benefits of IoT in Agriculture

As a result, implementing IoT-based smart agriculture solutions can lead to higher farming profitability and operational resilience. 

IoT in the agriculture sector: Top 5 examples

Smart agriculture products and solutions are on the rise, and new IoT applications for the agricultural industry appear on a regular basis. Below we list the five most prominent areas of IoT use in AgTech.

Smart greenhouses

IoT sensors can control every aspect of greenhouse operations, from lighting, irrigation, and fertilization to pest control and air humidity. This greatly increases the chances of timely identification and correcting any fluctuations, keeping growth conditions optimal for plants and ensuring good harvests. 

Tools like Farmapp provide convenient dashboards to monitor all the data in a centralized manner. This Integrated Pest Management software provides sensor control, fumigation, and parameter monitoring functions. For example, it comes with a scouting app to combine satellite imagery with drone-made geospatial maps and the ability to produce charts and reports to visualize the data. 

Real-time access to satellite images and cloud-based algorithmic calculations enables farmers to track and predict weather and soil conditions and, thus, allows farmers to take the necessary preventive measures. Lastly, integration with smart irrigation systems allows you to control the amount of water spent on irrigation, thus optimizing this crucial aspect of greenhouse farming.

Livestock monitoring

Farmers can use livestock collars with smart sensors to gather individual data on each animal’s nutrition regimen, temperature, blood pressure, location, and many other parameters. This way, it’s easy to monitor the herd, quickly separate animals with fever from the rest, and locate stray cows or sheep if need be, as well as optimize all other aspects of dairy production.

Cowlar is an example of an IoT system that uses cow collars to gather data and transmit it to the cloud. This enables dairy farmers to optimize milking and farm performance while reducing labor costs. It can also help farmers monitor cattle reproduction.

Another solution, SCR by Allflex, enables smart intelligence for individual cows and the herd as a whole. Each collar collects data on body temperature, nutrition details, and vitals. Combining this data into herd management plans results in actionable insights on all aspects of dairy farming, from milking management to livestock identification.

One of the challenges of livestock monitoring is ensuring sensor signal stability in moving herds. While the aforementioned solutions offer mesh networking (where every collar acts as a retransmitter for other devices), Symfony Link uses the LPWAN (low-power wide-area network) approach to enable over-the-air low-latency data transmission with repeaters, RXR-27 modules, conductors, and gateways.

Drone monitoring

Modern drones like Sense Fly can perform a wide range of functions, from geospatial data collection and soil analysis to plant fertilization control or pest spraying. Helping small farmers cultivate their fields, drones are among the most promising directions for the future of agriculture.

For example, ground-based or aerial drones only require farmers to input the field data—ground resolution and altitude, etc. After that, the drones perform the monitoring automatically, gathering data on plant count, the chemical composition of soil and plants, irrigation, fertilizer usage, pest presence, etc. As all this data is collected continuously and centrally processed by the IoT agriculture platforms, farmers save huge amounts of time and money, gathering this information 40–60 times faster than with manual labor. 

Equipment monitoring

Every farm has to rely on a wide variety of equipment, from water pumps and engines to solar panels. All of this equipment needs maintenance, as having any system shut down during harvest season can lead to significant losses. Powering preventive maintenance with IoT technology allows farmers to optimize the service cycles of their equipment and prevent unexpected system failures.

Since IoT-based preventive monitoring solutions have to be tailored to the specifics of equipment used by a farmer, few ready-made systems are available on the market. So if you need software of this type, opt for custom development.

Precision farming

An IoT-based intelligent agriculture field monitoring system with soil sensors helps track the humidity or chemical characteristics of the soil or signal pest infestation. This enables farmers to optimize the use of water and fertilizers, as well as quickly shutting down pests to improve crop yields. 

Mothive is an example of such a solution, helping farmers optimize their spending and increase farm profitability. With the Variable Rate Irrigation feature, farmers can control the irrigation schedule based on each field’s unique parameters to ensure optimal resource allocation depending on the crops grown.

Arable is another tool that allows you to combine weather and plant data with soil composition details through a cloud-based platform, providing in-depth insights and predictions that can help maximize yields.

There also are IoT agriculture platforms like Semios that provide all-in-one plant management functionality, combining data on weather, pest pressure, water management, and plant health into one streamlined dashboard. With actionable insights based on real-time data, growers can make informed decisions that will result in spending less time and money while ensuring better harvests.

However, IoT smart farming is not all about simply adding lots of sensors to all areas of the farm. There are technical and financial aspects to be considered before implementing an IoT system in agriculture.

IoT in the Agriculture Sector: Top 5 Examples

Things to consider before integrating IoT technology into farming

Let’s face it—IoT projects are tough to implement, and future reworks can nearly double the overall costs, so you’d better do everything correctly from the get-go. Below we list the key parameters to think of when planning your future IoT-based agriculture monitoring system:

  • Specialization. Of course, you will need one solution to monitor livestock and an entirely different one to monitor gardens or fields. End-to-end farm management agriculture solutions do exist, but they can be on the pricey side. You must prioritize and address the most pressing need of your farm before using IoT.
  • Connectivity. You need to use the right technology to ensure stable and timely data transfer. RFID (radio frequency identification) or NFC (near-field communication) can be a good choice for smaller farms, while LPWAN is the natural choice for bigger farms. Keep in mind that all of this equipment will need power sources, and livestock wearable sensors will also have to be regularly recharged, so you will need to invest in solar panels or a branched-out power grid.
  • Frequency. Optimal results are achieved with optimal data collection frequency, as you definitely don’t want to collect stats on your crops or herds every second. On the other hand, equipment monitoring requires real-time updates. Selecting the right data processing mode helps minimize traffic usage expenses.
Things to Consider Before Integrating IoT Technology into Farming

When you address all these concerns, you will future-proof your farm and improve its operational resilience. Speaking of which, what can we expect of IoT in agriculture in the years to come?

IoT technology and agriculture: What does the future hold?

As we mentioned above, the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely resulted in revised forecasts about the introduction of the Internet of Things into the farming industry. It also highlighted the need to automate farming as much as possible to ensure stable operations with a limited need for manual labor. 

Governments across the globe (Australia, India, Sri Lanka, etc.) have announced initiatives to support farmers and implement IoT farming in local agronomy. All these factors result in an expected growth to nearly $200 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 14.5%, according to a recent Global Autonomous Farm Equipment Industry report.

According to Reportlinker, global autonomous farm equipment market will grow to nearly $200 billion by 2027.

However, the absence of reliable 5G coverage still remains a large hindrance to smart farming. Also, there currently are no distinct market leaders in IoT solutions as most companies go for purpose-built IoT software solutions handling certain aspects of their operations.

Summing up, a decision to invest in building a smart farming solution in 2021–2022 can be a good way to go for your business, allowing you to benefit from government support early and conquer the market quickly.

How can Relevant help grow your farming business?

Talent selection is one of the key factors contributing to smart farming project success, as the team you hire should have in-depth knowledge of all the IoT implementation nuances. 

As an experienced IoT software development company, Relevant can easily select the best technology to meet your unique project requirements. We provide the following IoT services to help agriculture businesses adopt innovative technology: 

  • Data collection and management. We help build IoT Big Data solutions, BI dashboards, and reporting tools to easily gather, process, and visualize your smart farming data.
  • IoT app development. We build end-to-end mobile and web platforms for connecting wearables to the cloud and enabling seamless control of data and devices.
  • Back-end infrastructure. We help design and deploy powerful cloud-based back-end infrastructure with serverless architecture, API development, and ERP integration to ensure maximum cost-efficiency of your IoT initiatives.

Many global companies are outsourcing to Ukraine to ensure the high quality of their IoT deliverables and cost-efficient software development. Should you need to hire one or several IoT developers for your project, Relevant has you covered!

Summing up

The market for IoT in agriculture is rapidly growing but is still not dominated by any single player. So it is time to invest in an IoT-based agriculture monitoring system, whether you want it for internal use or to market it as a product. 

IoT use cases vary from equipment monitoring and greenhouse management to livestock monitoring and end-to-end farm management systems. Thus, whatever farming business you are in, IoT technology can help you improve results and grow your revenues.

Should you have any questions or want to discuss your project requirements, Relevant is ready to assist. Contact us today, and let’s talk business!

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