IOT for farming

DEVANG MEHTA
Monday, February 29, 2016

When you think of life on the farm, a life of waking up before the rooster crows, then heading out to the fields for the day to seed, plow, fertilize and reap in the hot sun before going home for the night and starting over the next day usually come to mind.

However, one look at the farm of today paints a much different picture. Today’s successful farms are among the most technologically-advanced businesses around. Farmers very scientifically select crop rotations to preserve precious topsoil, have moved to highly-efficient irrigation techniques to address drought conditions in many parts of the country, and are constantly tuned in to commodities exchanges to monitor crop prices. This picture also includes drones precisely spraying water and pesticides, robotic arms picking fruit and similar advancements, all driven by big data and IoT analytics.

IOT is making an increasingly important contribution to farming. Picture drones scanning fields to evaluate soil and crop conditions, so that fertilization, seeding and related activities are precisely tuned to soil conditions. By utilizing big data, farmers can do things never before possible such as track seed effectiveness, adjust soil nitrogen and potassium levels, and more, all of which optimize yields. This targeted kind of farming has been dubbed precision farming, and it has boosted farm efficiency and reduced waste for those who take advantage of big data.

In the past, farmers had no choice but to adopt a “spray and pray” method, seeding, watering and fertilizing an entire field in the same way, despite varying conditions. Armed with big data and IoT analytics, farmers can custom treat their fields as well as detect sick crops and other problems early.

According to a STUDY BY FARMLINK, unused big data costs farmers $8.1 billion in revenue a year. Farmers are masters at collecting crops for consumption, but they would be wise to focus on gathering the data from the machines they use to farm such crops. For an industry goes through an ongoing string of booms and busts, an extra $8.1 billion dollars makes a difference.

There is a tremendous and exciting opportunity for more farmers to leverage the big data they are already collecting through IoT analytics. In an era when farmers are in fierce competition with farmers in other countries, IoT can provide a valuable competitive edge.