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. Take smart electricity meters, appliances that can be controlled via apps, and virtual assistants, for example.

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.

Self-Driving Tractors

When it comes to autonomous vehicles, agriculture is leaps and bounds ahead of the automotive industry. Tractors that can be left to drive themselves have been the common in the sector for some time now. This major IoT development has been spearheaded by the company John Deere, a manufacturer of agriculture equipment that makes tractors and other equipment that are able to learn routes and be left to their own devices. This frees up farmers and farm staff to concentrate on other things and get twice as much done, meaning real boosts in productivity and efficiency.

Precision Agriculture

Precision agriculture is an approach to farming that involves constantly monitoring and responding to variations in field conditions in order to obtain maximum crop yield and quality. This modern approach to agriculture relies on various IoT applications.

The most exciting of these applications is drones. Drones are flown over farms to collect data on land and crops. Satellite imagery is then also used to assess fields and inform decisions to increase output, preserve resources and cut costs.

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.

Using ERP Software on Mobile Devices

Many agribusinesses now use specialist ERP software to help run their operations more efficiently and productively. Thanks to the rise of interconnected devices and the Internet of Things, it is much easier to input data into and retrieve data from computer systems, speeding up all processes.

For example, Primetics agribusiness software includes a mobile optimised CRM system that you can input data directly into when you’re out on the field. Our customer portal and online support can also be easily accessed on mobile devices.

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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