Here’s What’s Working with the Internet of Things … and What’s Next

With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), we are now seeing farmers use more wireless technologies to increase the quality and efficiency of production to achieve higher yields. IoT has opened the door for engineers to develop smart farming solutions to meet the world’s growing food demands. IoT will compel the industry to rethink processes and require the deployment of new technologies (sensors, wireless networks, applications/platforms) to ingest the massive amount of agricultural data and identify the actionable data that will help farmers meet their goals.

The decrease in cost of cellular connectivity and device modules, combined with the emergence of low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) LoRa and Sigfox, has created an explosion of new tools to deploy precision agriculture solutions. Research organization BI Intelligence has predicted that IoT device installations in the smart agriculture world will increase to 75 million by 2020. According to research firm Global Market Insights, the sensors segment alone is projected to dominate the hardware market, predicting more than a 19% share by 2024 due to an increase in different types of sensors that are being deployed in precision farming management systems. Which leads us to the money question: “What’s working?”

Three Case Studies from Across Ag

There is a broad variety of sensors/wireless sensor networks (aerial, ground-based, satellite) currently in the market, and each one serves a unique purpose (e.g., livestock monitoring, vehicle tracking, crop/soil monitoring). To know “what really works,” you first need to consider how the end user will be interfacing with them and what data/information the end user requires to solve the challenges that they will face.

So let’s answer this question with the challenge and the end user at the forefront.

#1 Multitech Detects Pests in Palm Trees

Sensor manufacturer Multitech offers a multitude of IoT connectivity options and equipment that allows farmers to connect physical assets to its business processes and monitor almost anything (soil moisture, animal location/activity, building temperature, humidity).

Multitech’s partner, Agrint, developed a low-cost, low-energy, highly sensitive sensor that can detect the invasion of the red palm weevil in palm trees. This sensor has the ability to pick up on the subtle vibrations of larvae as it begins to tunnel through the tree, with an algorithm that analyzes data in specific patterns. Agrint selected Multitech as its IoT partner for its sensors, connectivity gateways, and integrated capabilities.

Solution: Through the use of Multitech’s MultiConnect Conduit base station that utilizes LoRa connectivity, Agrint has developed the IoTree solution to enable farmers to increase the efficiency of pesticide management and save trees from damage through early detection/treatment of infestation. Information from the tree sensor is continuously fed into the cloud and updated so that farmers can stay fully aware and eliminate costly replacement expenses.

#2: WaterBit Delivers Irrigation Automation

Irrigation automation technology manufacturer WaterBit enables vineyard managers to utilize the right amount of water on their vines at the right times, which has a tremendous impact on crop quality. With WaterBit’s microblock granularity, quality and yield can be monitored across a field with variable soil and weather conditions through a small unit placed under the foliage.

Solution: WaterBit‘s autonomous irrigation solution allows farmers to save hundreds of labor hours, improve crop quality, and increase yield.

#3: Afimilk Optimizes Efficiency in Dairy

Technology manufacturer Afimilk offers dairy management sensors and software solutions that utilize RFID tags and Bluetooth RFID wand and cellular connectivity that sends data through the cloud. Its offerings are proving highly effective for managing dairy herds. Dairy profitability depends on herd fertility, which is based on optimized lactation intervals. In maintaining good fertility, the main factor is timing. Afimilk has determined that, by identifying the exact time for breeding, it will lead to better pregnancy rates.

Solution: With the Afimilk Silent Herdsman smart neck sensor and fertility management system software, farmers are making more money and saving time by wirelessly monitoring cows in real time. Alerts are sent for optimal fertility times and changes associated with the onset of heat, the health of the animal, and its eating habits. Data retrieved from the smart collar is stored in the cloud for review and analysis at any time from anywhere, allowing farmers to make informed decisions on their herds around the clock.

How often does the end user need to gather data? With so many different sensors and connectivity options plus application and network management platforms, there is now so much data that can be collected. But this doesn’t mean that the more data packets a sensor can send, the better it is. Less than 20% of all IoT data collected is being analyzed and used. The key to managing this data is in understanding the desired outcome and analyzing the data to make informed decisions.


Keys to Effective IoT Deployment

Here are the top seven areas that need focus by the end user:

  • Understand the challenge/problem you are trying to solve.
  • Identify the data points from the field that are required to solve the challenge.
  • Identify the hardware required to collate such data.
  • Identify the software solution required to analyze and process the data.
  • Understand how often the data is required to be collected.
  • Determine the type of connectivity needed to send and receive the data.
  • Select connectivity option(s) and potential IoT provider(s).

What’s Next?

The future of precision agriculture is in collecting and analyzing the data from sensors easily and inexpensively to maximize efficiency on the farms while increasing yield and productivity. This “stuff” is still hard and complicated. We, as an industry, need to educate the farmers, vendors, resellers, and dealers so that the right decisions on products and services are made. With the use of the right solution suite, end users can extract value from their technology investments and continue to grow their businesses.

IoT sensors and everything that is in the farming application will continue to move the industry forward, but someone needs to pull all of this together. We need agriculture IoT systems integrators who will be fully responsible for all aspects of the deployment and ongoing technical and customer support. They need to understand IoT software, IoT hardware (sensors and communication products), IoT networks, security, installation, and data management. This is a critical piece for the farmer, and it is not prevalent today. As these systems integrators become more prevalent, the explosion of smart agriculture will take hold.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Here’s What’s Working with the Internet of Things … and What’s Next

Sensors/IoT Stories
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil Sensors
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Sensors/IoTSentera Gimbaled Quad Sensor Optimizes Crop Health Data Capture
August 7, 2018
Sentera’s Quad sensor is now available in an integrated gimbal-stabilized package for DJI Inspire and Matrice drones. Featuring four fully-customizable Read More
Industry NewsRanch Systems, IoT Provider Aeris Announce Collaboration Agreement
July 25, 2018
Aeris, a technology provider in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, said today it is collaborating with Ranch Systems of Read More
Data ManagementAgriculture’s Next Breakthrough: New Technologies Are Driving Efficiency, Data Insights
July 3, 2018
We live in an exciting time in agriculture. Not only is technology advancing rapidly, but the understanding and comprehension of Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Mike Gomes, Topcon
October 15, 2018
Mike Gomes of Topcon Precision Agriculture joins Paul Schrimpf, Group Editor of PrecisionAg Professional magazine, for a discussion of key Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
October 1, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil Sensors
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Imagery/SensingAgtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!
September 4, 2018
Before you get bent out of shape from the title, remember if you’ve read my articles before you know I Read More
Kansas State University
Industry NewsKansas State University, Topcon Form Precision Ag Research Partnership
August 30, 2018
Kansas State University and Topcon Agriculture are collaborating to develop tools and systems to advance precision agriculture and support farmers. Read More
Latest News
Events‘From Farms to Incubators’ Documentary High…
October 18, 2018
“From Farms to Incubators: Telling the stories of minority women entrepreneurs in agtech in the Salinas Valley and beyond” will Read More
Service ProvidersPutting Agronomic Advice Into Action – A Full-Season Fi…
October 17, 2018
It’s one thing to read, write, or know about helping customers best manage their fields – it’s another to put Read More
Data ManagementMythbusting: Is Weather More Unpredictable Due to a Cha…
October 16, 2018
There are some commonly spoken narratives that are actually false, at least as stated in the exact words used, that Read More
DronesEnhance Your Agriculture Workflow in Less Than 30 Minut…
October 15, 2018
Prunes are European plums with a high sugar content that allows them to dry without fermenting around the pit and Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePartner Profile with Winfield United
October 15, 2018
Joel Wipperfurth of Winfield United discusses ag technology trends and topics during the 2018 InfoAg Conference. Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePartner Profile with Simplot Grower Solutions
October 15, 2018
Allan Fetters of Simplot Grower Solutions discusses ag technology trends and topics across the industry, and within the company, during Read More
PrecisionAg InstituteEncouraging Employees to Think Into the Future is Winni…
October 15, 2018
EFC Systems CEO Ernie Chappell says his company is always looking ahead to understand growers’ future needs. “It’s not just Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePartnership with SDSU is One Way Raven Industries Advan…
October 15, 2018
Raven Industries’ partnership with South Dakota State University allows the company to work closely with students and staff to advance Read More
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Kirk Appleford, Proagrica
October 15, 2018
Kirk Appleford joins Paul Schrimpf at the 2018 InfoAg Conference to talk about current ag trends, and Proagrica’s recent acquisition Read More
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Charlie Magruder, ESRI
October 15, 2018
Charlie Magruder joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of current trends in technology that are impacting ESRI, including news from Read More
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Shane Swedlund, Raven Industries
October 15, 2018
Shane Swedlund of Raven Industries joins Paul Schrimpf at the 2018 InfoAg Conference to share some key learnings from the Read More
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Mike Gomes, Topcon
October 15, 2018
Mike Gomes of Topcon Precision Agriculture joins Paul Schrimpf, Group Editor of PrecisionAg Professional magazine, for a discussion of key Read More
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Ernie Chappell, EFC Systems
October 15, 2018
Ernie Chappell of EFC Systems joins Paul Schrimpf, Group Editor of PrecisionAg Professional magazine, to talk about topics and trends Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversPrecision Agriculture in Specialty Crops: Labor, Cost S…
October 9, 2018
Agriculture is going through an equivalent of what the computer industry went through in the 1970s and 1980s. That’s when Read More
EventsA Crazy 2018 is Why We Need Growing Innovations
October 8, 2018
If you’re here you likely have received a special Meister Media Worldwide code to get $100 off your registration to Read More
AmericasConBAP 2018 Highlights Precision Agriculture in Brazil
October 8, 2018
The Brazilian Congress of Precision Agriculture 2018 (ConBAP 2018) was held October 2-4 in Curitiba, Paraná. Held every two years, Read More
Service ProvidersGar Tootelian: Putting Ag Technology to the Test
October 8, 2018
In California’s Central Valley, a diverse crop market in which Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) are the dominant players when it Read More
Spray Drift
Decision Support SoftwareHow Technology Can Help You Prevent Spray Drift
October 8, 2018
Spray drift. News articles about damage caused by spray drift seem to pop up regularly, almost as daily reminders, during Read More