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Harvesting the Future with IoT in Agriculture

Telink Staff

May 10, 2024

Applications

Farmer using a tablet for agricultural insights

Internet of Things (IoT) technologies have quickly become integral to modern agriculture. Real-time data monitoring gives insight into changing environmental conditions and enables precision farming, where farmers respond to environmental variables to ensure optimal agricultural and livestock production. IoT tech also enables harvesting and planting automation, saving farmers time and labor. 

Powered by Bluetooth® Mesh, Zigbee®, Wi-Fi, and 5G, IoT technologies are already driving immense growth. The global market for IoT in agriculture stands at $20.14 billion as of 2023 and could reach $71.92 billion by 2023, with a CAGR of 13.6%. With this incredible growth, it’s worth exploring the promise of IoT in agriculture. 

What Is Smart Farming?

Smart farming is a process that involves using information and communication technologies to enhance the quantity and quality of agricultural products while optimizing the necessary human labor. Current smart farming practices rely on sensors, specialized software solutions, connectivity technologies, location, robotics, and data analytics to track current conditions, helping farmers make informed, up-to-the-minute decisions about planting, harvesting, animal care, and more. 

Smart farming has grown partly as a response to the shortfalls of traditional cultivation methods and the need to feed more people than ever. According to the International Monetary Fund, food production must increase by 70% by 2050 to keep pace with global population growth. In addition, climate change is reducing crop yields and endangering resources, like water for irrigation, making it harder to grow and secure food. 

Agriculture also faces profitability challenges, with the USDA forecasting net farming income to decrease by $43.1 billion in 2024 compared to 2023. Coupled with rising fertilizer costs, volatile commodity prices, and increasing regulatory requirements, farmers are feeling the squeeze and seeking solutions that smart farming technologies can provide. 

The Benefits of AI and IoT in Agriculture

Deploying AI capabilities and IoT technologies could improve profitability and efficiency for farmers through applications that include the following: 

  • Cost management: IoT technologies can help farmers use their resources more economically by optimizing water and energy usage. They can also help farmers monitor their crop yields and waste levels. IoT devices typically also have predictive analytics capabilities that can assist farmers in planning their operations more efficiently, contributing to greater overall profitability.
  • Real-time data collection: Establishing a small network of IoT sensors provides farmers with essential real-time information. Monitoring conditions like humidity, temperature, air quality, soil moisture, and animal health gives farmers visibility into their crops and livestock, allowing them to make high-impact decisions about their operations.
  • Better product quality: By monitoring crops and livestock at the granular levels IoT devices provide, farmers can improve the quality of their products. This information helps farmers give their crops and livestock the exact care they need to be healthier and more nutritious for end consumers.
  • Automation: IoT technologies can automate animal feeding, crop watering, and other daily tasks that previously required human labor. This eliminates the need for a person to do the job and provides consistency in the food and water levels animals and crops need to thrive.
  • Risk mitigation: Tracking and monitoring crops and livestock helps farmers avoid potentially costly issues, like blights that decimate crops or diseases that impact their animals. IoT-enabled devices like location trackers can help farmers maintain their herds and prevent loss or theft. 
Benefits of AI and IoT in Agriculture

Current Use Cases for IoT in Agriculture

Every farm has its balance of unique needs, making the applications of IoT in agriculture nearly limitless. However, a few current uses for this technology include: 

  • Irrigation sensors: These devices monitor the soil, temperature, and moisture levels to operate sprinklers when needed. A solution like Zigbee, for example, utilizes a mesh network to allow IoT sensors within a certain range to communicate with each other, which can help farmers save on their utilities and contribute to healthier crops that aren’t being overwatered. 
  • Soil sensors: Soil sensors are used to gauge parameters like soil temperature, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) levels, volumetric water content, photosynthetic radiation, soil water potential, and soil oxygen levels. The data collected by these IoT-enabled sensors is relayed to a central hub or cloud platform for analysis, visualization, and trend assessment, where farmers can then make changes to yield healthier, more abundant crops. 
  • Cattle monitoring: IoT sensors attach to animals to help monitor their health, behavior, and physical location. Using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, this data is easily transmitted from the sensors to the cloud or another central data location, allowing farmers to manage their animals more easily. 
  • Local weather sensors: Local weather sensors allow farmers to hone their management strategies because they can help them quickly adapt to shifting weather conditions. These sensors detect rain, humidity, wind, and temperature, providing up-to-date insights that farmers can use to prepare for weather changes and different growing seasons. 
  • Autonomous machinery: Self-driving tractors, robot seed planters, and agricultural drones can save individual farmers countless hours of labor. When connected to an IoT network, farmers can sync autonomous machinery to carry out their typical daily tasks. This gives them more time to allocate toward activities that need human input, like making management or strategic decisions. 
  • Smart LED lighting: Using smart LED lighting not only helps sheltered crops grow, it can also help farmers save money. Bluetooth Networked Lighting Control (NLC) and Bluetooth LE give farmers control of smart lighting devices that can help them improve operations and conserve energy. Bluetooth NLC gives users precise control over individual lights or groups of lights, while Bluetooth LE helps lighting systems operate with minimal energy consumption. 

Sprout Seeds of Opportunity with Telink

Integrating IoT technology in agriculture marks a significant upgrade for farmers dealing with labor shortages, shifting weather patterns, and profitability issues. Product developers are essential in creating technology to help farmers enhance their operations. Telink’s system-on-chip (SoC) technology provides a robust platform for farmers to employ remote controls, data transfer, location services, and smart LED lighting solutions

Farmers need IoT technologies to improve productivity, resource efficiency, and sustainability. As smart farming continues to gain popularity, continued innovation and collaboration between product developers and farmers will drive further advancements.

Contact us to begin shaping the future of IoT in agriculture.