Is IoT the Future of Ag?

The Internet of Things, or ‘IoT’ for short, has been a popular buzz phrase for some years now. The basic concept of devices, appliances and machines that are all connected and interconnected via the internet is one that has worked its way into many aspects of day-today life.

Examples of IoT devices that many people may be aware of include smart electricity meters that can be accessed via an app, smart fridges that tell you when your food expires and smart hubs that let you turn your heating and other appliances on and off via your phone when you are out of the house.

With this in mind, what could the Internet of Things mean for the agriculture industry? How and where could it be applied, and to what benefit? Research conducted by Business Insider predicts that the use of IoT devices in agriculture is expected to grow at an annual rate of 20% each year up to 2020, reaching around 75 million installations by that time (from 30 million in 2015).

In this post we look at some the most exciting new uses of IoT in agriculture, and what their implications might be for the future of the industry.

Soil Monitoring

Monitoring the quality, moisture content and chemistry of soil, among other aspects, is of vital importance in many areas of agriculture. This is particularly important for seed and grain production, but can also have knock-on effects for other sectors, such as feed.

The way in which IoT is now helping here is through soil sensors. Placed in the soil and connected via the internet, they pick up and feedback useful information about the soil. This can then be used to control water usage and create custom fertiliser for particular areas, for example. This is of course useful for planning planting and harvest times.

Soil sensors can also help alert farmers and seed producers to sudden changes in soil conditions, such as increased acidity. They can then react more quickly and avoid damage or losses of crops.

RFID Tagging

Another area of agriculture where IoT can prove extremely beneficial is in food traceability. As anyone working in agriculture will know, traceability along the whole of the human and animal food chains is of the utmost importance. One example of RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology being used here is RFID tags on feed bags so that their origins and what are contained within them can be easily identified.

But RFID and the similar technology NFC (near field communication) have multiple other uses in agriculture too. It can be especially useful for controlling livestock – attaching tags to animals means that farmers can be alerted if an animal strays away from the herd and is in danger of becoming lost.

Volume tracking for silos and bins

feed silos

Within feed supply, new IoT developments are now making the tracking and reordering process for animal feed much easier. New volumetric sensors located inside feed silos at farms measure how much feed is left inside the silo. This information can be monitored remotely by the feed supplier, and new refill orders can be generated automatically. This saves lots of time for farmers, as they no longer have to spend time regularly checking the silos, and ringing up to place new feed orders when required. It altogether makes the feed ordering process more efficient and streamlined

These are the current major trends in IoT and agriculture, but with developments being made all the time, we can’t wait to see what the future holds in this field.

To learn more about how Primetics software could benefit your agribusiness, contact us today on +44 (0) 1257 279 811 or send an email to primetics@culturatech.com.

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