In the previous part of this series, we spoke about how agriculture is rapidly becoming one of those industries that would thrive wonderfully in the future, using the many benefits that IOT has to offer. In this part, we will take up the topic of how our food is being grown differently with IOT around.
With the rate at which the global population is growing vis-a-vis the rate at which arable land is depleting...coupled with the challenge of strained irrigation, it becomes quite obvious that orthodox methods of farming will no more run the mill somehow.
The most challenging aspect of productive and sustainable agriculture is predictability – predicting a drought, excessive rainfall, pests, heat and dryness in air....a lot more! Predictions don’t just arrive out of nowhere. Factors have to be analysed, hour to hour and year to year.
IOT helps perform detailed analysis involving huge data, sense upcoming events based on these analytics and lay down accurate predictions.
Here are a few areas of daily agricultural woes that can be attended to by IOT and connected technology:
Optimizing yields and planting plans
Crop plantations and the choice of crops to be grown often depend on historical data. More or less, demand for specific crops, infestation of pests, inches of rainfall or spans of dryness repeat themselves historically. Farmers can easily increase their productivity while avoiding rotting of crops, if they have access to such analysed data.
Soil and climate conditions
There are available, devices with sensors embedded in them, which indicate figures like the salinity of the soil, aeration level, infestation by weeds, humidity and salinity in the air. Considering such figures can help farmers decide which crop to grow, when to fertilize, which pesticide or weedicide to use and a lot other stuff that can help optimise crop production.
Automated irrigation facilities can save a lot on the cultivator’s time and prevent negligent drying of crops or death due to water-logging. Sensors are available that can be conveniently tagged to seeds or saplings. As these sapling grow, the sensors latched on to them keep collecting data about the water level in the soil and intimate the farmer, who can subsequently take actions. Or, if routed to an integrated irrigation system, these sensors can control the operation of field sprinklers.
Pest infestations annually cause irreplaceable damage to farmers. On top of that, the growing demand for organic food products has withdrawn the possibility to use pesticides on such crops. IOT comes to rescue here, with sensor based pheromone releasers that sense the increasing population of pests and release pheromones in the air accordingly. These pheromones twitch the mating patterns, thus putting a stop to pest infestation, all without the use of pesticides!
Data is transferred real time from field to farmers. As such, sensor embedded machinery including grain silos, grain elevators, conveyer belts and other such breakdown-prone machines can directly indicate weary conditions to farmers. Timely minor repairs here and there can thus prevent complete breakdowns. This helps reduce cost to farmers to a huge extent and keeps off undue delay in post-harvest processes.
Combining the utility of IOT in all the above areas, it is completely apparent that the future of farming and agriculture would depend a lot on technology.
However, the most daunting challenge as of now is making the technology accessible to farmers globally. Buying power and technological know-how are both hurdles in the way of accepting the bleeding edge technology. In-depth operational training and at least a surface level knowledge are required to encourage farmers, embrace IOT in the day-to-day lives.
In the next part, we shall talk about how IOT has made a stark improvement in cattle rearing and dairy.