Exploring the Role of IoT in Agriculture and the Future of Agriculture Technology.
Updated: Nov 28
In a world where everything works at the click of a button and can be remotely controlled and monitored, it only makes sense that modern-day agricultural practices should not be far behind.
Statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) of the United Nations show a grim need for increasing food production by 70% by 2050 to feed the growing human population on our planet, predicted to be 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.6 billion by the year 2050.
This is where IoT (Internet of Things) technology for smart farming comes into play.
In simpler terms, this refers to the implementation of IoT in agriculture and the use of cloud-based precision farming, such as sensors for monitoring optimal soil conditions, land mapping and livestock management using drones and cameras, automated irrigation as well as controlled greenhouse farming.
Benefits of Smart Agriculture
While the IoT-based applications for agriculture are capital-intensive and involve the initial training of human resources, the long-term benefits listed below far outweigh the upfront investment:
Increased production capacity
Lower operational costs and higher efficiency
Sustainable farming practices lowering the carbon footprint
Resilient agricultural systems leading to a consistently good quality crop
Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
Lesser waste on farms
Solutions based on IoT assist in making projections using a system of data collection and diagnoses, which leads to better decisions and actions. It’s time for the agriculture industry to see some of these advantages that help increase yield in a cost-efficient way.
Key Drivers of Tech in the Agriculture Industry
Like many aspects of the food industry, agriculture is long overdue for a complete overhaul and modernization of its systems and processes. However, in the last few decades, the need for technological advances in farming has been strongly highlighted due to changing conditions:
Limited natural resources like water and arable soil. This is probably one of the strongest drivers since sensor technology which monitors soil humidity, moisture, light, and temperature, offers key solutions to basic problems.
The declining agricultural workforce due to urban migration and increasing labor costs leads to the lower availability of well-trained workers on farms.
Increasing population demand remains a looming reality and pushes forward the agenda for IoT in smart farming.
Many countries around the globe are facing depleting agricultural land due to climate change and other areas of human development.
The unpredictability of the quality and quantity of crop yield in traditional farming.
IoT-Based Applications for Smart Agriculture
Around the world, great strides have been made in the area of IoT-based applications, which can already be seen in large and small farming operations alike. While the benefits are most pronounced in large agricultural enterprises, the effects of smart farming are seen in smaller operations where reducing costs while increasing output becomes more significant. IoT technology is used for farming in tight urban spaces - think of growing crops on vertical building walls and rooftop farming.
In addition, family and small organic farms use smart technology to make predictable projections to increase output. Another area of smart farming application is community-supported agriculture (or CSAs) which solves the needs of a local area, thus reducing carbon footprint.
While smart farming is in a nascent stage in many parts of the developing world, the three core areas of applications are moving forward at a fast pace.
Cloud-Based Smart Farming Technology
The use of precision technologies like sensors, monitors, and irrigation automation in farming has come a long way. Larger farming operations are bringing in advanced solutions like autonomous vehicles, robotics, and crop metrics to help farmers make strategic decisions.
Use of Drones and Cameras in Agriculture
Drones have the capacity to offer the hi-tech overhaul needed in the farming industry. They vastly reduce the physical burden on large farming operations, giving farmers the ability to make informed decisions while saving precious time, thus leading to exponentially increased output. Agricultural drones and on-ground cameras monitor large survey swaths of agricultural land to maintain crop health, nutrient composition of the soil, crop spraying, planting, and harvesting.
Managing Livestock and Cattle on Farms with smart agriculture technology
While we all remember the lonely shepherd roaming the land while tending to his cattle, today’s technology offers many more advantages to ranchers and livestock farmers.
One of the main uses is for cattle location and fence management to ensure the safety and well-being of the herd. In addition, these technologies are developing in the areas of disease management and birthing of livestock.
With its vast resources, India is an emerging force in the area of smart farming. About 60-70% of the country has a rural population that depends on agriculture, which offers a stunning opportunity for growth by using IoT-base applications for agriculture.
Some top IoT companies in India, like BharatAgri, Agrowave, and Fasal, among others, are emerging as key Agritech players in taking this agenda forward. By improving the standards and bringing in technological advances in farming, the lives of the entire country can be elevated. Keeping in mind that India accounts for 17.7% of the world’s population, the ripple effects of the country embracing smart farming practices will be felt globally.