Smart Farming using IoT - Definition, & Applications
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
According to the UN, the current #population around the world is more than 7.8 Billion as of April 2020 and the experts have predicted that the population would rise more and may reach 9.7 Billion by 2050. The food-producing rate hence should be increased by almost 70% compared to the current decade’s production rate.
This amount of humans to be fed in the future is impossible with current agricultural techniques but thanks to #IoT(Internet of Things) #technology being adopted in agriculture, which has now made the statement “is impossible” to “was impossible”. The global smart agriculture market size was $5 billion in 2016 and is estimated to rise more by 2025 to triple the numbers i.e. $15 billion.
As predicted by BI Intelligence experts, IOT agriculture products would grow annually by 20% and may reach around 75 million by 2020.
What is Smart Farming?
Smart Farming or #SmartAgriculture are the terms used to define the implementation of IoT(Internet of Things) technology in the farming process and eventually make farming easy, productive, and more efficient. Likewise, the implementation of IoT in home and city leading to the names “Smart Home” & “Smart City”.
This will make the process of farming smarter and will reduce labor work in the field.
How IoT play a role in smart farming?
The role of IoT in Smart Farming is like the “Lord Rama in the story - Ramayana”. Similarly, the farming process cannot be made Smart by using IoT technology and to simply understand that, let’s see an example and consider the image below:
Using the technology of IoT the farmer has connected various devices or things to his/her mobile. The processes the farmer can do with it are:
Can control the tractor using mobile,
Check of human detection using sensors and know about the same on mobile,
Control the irrigation system,
See the live feed of the farm through the drone,
Monitor the soil,
Check for rain, temperature, and many more.
These activities can simply be achieved by just sitting at home and almost doing no hard work. This is how IoT makes the process of farming easy and thus plays an important role.
Smart Farming Technologies:
Adopting Smart Farming System have many benefits but what exactly are the technologies involved in the process to make Farming to be said as “Smart Farming”:
Hardware: Hardware is the soul of any IoT based agriculture monitoring system because it makes the senors/electronics, which ease the farming process, into smart devices and help monitor the agriculture. These hardware devices used are:
Sensors: These can be said the eyes, nose, and mouth of an IoT technology which are used to sense the nearby environment in different ways and provide the inputs to the Brain of the hardware. Some examples of sensors are soil & moisture sensor, temperature, humidity, rain sensor, fire sensor, motion sensor, etc.
Actuators: After sensors send the value to the brain, depending on some applications the hardware is supposed to do some action after receiving that input. The sending back of data by the brain of the hardware is called output and that output is received by electronics known as Actuators. Some actuators used are motors, lights, electric sprinklers, etc.
Brain: The brain of the hardware is the electronics that controls all the other connected hardware with it. The brain can be a microcontroller or a processor that can control other components working using computer programming.
Communication: Some or maybe all the Smart Agriculture applications have wireless connectivity using which the farmer can check the status of things and control various operations on the farm. This communication is possible by using technologies like WiFi, Bluetooth, 4G, etc.
This is the computer programming technology that provides the brain with various commands to control electronics, receive or send data, and do more. The programming has to be done specifically based on the application for better results.
The data from the #sensors & electronics are stored on the cloud and can be checked by a human or sent back to other #electronics which can perform some actions according to the data received. The data can be accessed/sent from/to any parts of the world which makes the possibility that the farmer can stay home until really necessary.
All the data on the cloud can be collected after a certain interval of time and by analyzing that data the farmer can know the result of Smart Agriculture and also predict future results using the same data. He/She can predict the amount of water used for sprinklers or irrigation on a monthly basis or he/she may see the prediction of the climate changes for the next coming days. As a result, the farmer can increase productivity using Data Analytics.
With all these technology benefits, there also might be some challenges in Smart Farming like the hardware used should be reliable, it would need maintenance. Good data analytics and machine learning capabilities to predict future data or do more with the collected data. Since there would be a lot of data stored in the cloud, there would be high chances of the data being stolen or misused and so the data should be protected with security, which would be costly.
Applications of IoT in smart farming
Some of the Smart Farming using IOT applications which are already practiced are mentioned below:
Precision Farming - This application is called Precision Farming because IoT enabled Smart Farming is more efficient, productive, and easy when compared to the basic agriculture process. Using IoT based Smart Farming, the farmer can analyze the data of various sensors like temperature, water level, soil, moisture, climate, and then using those data predict the future data & decide whether to make any changes in the ongoing processes or to start/stop any process.
Climate monitoring and forecasting - Weather forecasting has helped in climate prediction for many years and now implementing it with farming will help improve the production. The weather station is now providing the weather forecast data via many sources and by analyzing those data, the farmers can consider making changes in ongoing processes if needed.
Livestock management - Many devices are using which one can check the health of animals and connecting the same with IoT the farmers can monitor the life of all the animals they have on their farm. They can then make further decisions like which livestock can help with labor or other commodities.
Smart greenhouse - The greenhouse technique is used in farming to produce vegetables, fruits, crops, etc as per human needs irrespective of the ongoing season or climate changes. Tt is controlled manually and results in production & energy loss with added labor costs to pay but with introducing Smart Farming in greenhouse i.e. Smart Greenhouse these losses can be reduced. Using IoT in Greenhouse, the plant production can be enhanced using the sensors monitoring the climate and weather conditions thus, controlling the lights and other necessary actuators.
Crop monitoring - Various sensors can be used to monitor the life & growth of the crop. For example, the temperature and precipitation of the crop can be measured, and also can sensors can be added to detect the anomaly that may infect the crop. This altogether would help improve crop quality of the crop and benefit the farmer by increasing production.
Soil monitoring - The soil’s moisture and fertility along with the growth rate of the crop can be monitored using the soil and moisture sensor. Implementing this sensor values into IoT technology will help in farming more efficiently since the farmer can see the real-time data of sensor value and start the process of farming accordingly.
The world may face many changes over decades but one thing is permanent and would never change i.e. to live the humans need to eat. Agriculture is the field that would never stop production and with the increasing human population, the production needs to be increased more effectively & efficiently, which can only be done by adopting IoT based Smart Farming System. The adoption results in increased numbers and quality crop production with also increasing the growth rate of the agriculture industry as never before.