Smart Farming – How IoT is Revolutionizing Agriculture

Smart Farming – How IoT is Revolutionizing Agriculture

The current world population as of April 2020 is calculated to be at 7.8 billion people. And all those people need to eat. In order to more efficiently provide healthy crops to feed billions of people, technologies are continuously being developed and refined to help with sensing, processing, and transporting agriculture.

One technology that’s critical for IoT solutions in smart farming is Wi-Fi. Though most of us nowadays just take Wi-Fi for granted in our daily activities, there are many interesting and novel ways it is powering smart farming solutions.

 

Wi-Fi for Smart Farming

Because it’s easy today to reach an outdoor range of up to 300 feet outdoors with just a single router, Wi-Fi can be used to support rather cutting-edge technologies for many small to medium applications. Wi-Fi also now utilizes multiple frequencies, so that data transfer is generally quick and readily available.

One clever example of a small-scale smart farming solution is Farmshelf which relies on Wi-Fi to connect and share information directly between smart indoor farms and restaurants/markets. The process is simple and user-friendly – a restaurant/market just has to plug in their Farmshelf, connect to Wi-Fi, and a smart LCD screen will guide their staff through the growing process.

 

LPWAN for Smart Farming

For large farms, smart farming often needs a longer-range wireless solution. Also, many of these large farms are in remote locations, using solar or batter powered transmission devices.

In these situations, a low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) is the preferred technology. In today’s global smart farming industry, there are three leaders in LPWAN technology:

LoRa / LoRan- named for its Long Range specificity was developed by French startup Cycelo and then acquired by Semtech in 2012. Currently Semtech controls much of the technology’s core IP and is considered by many to have set the LPWAN standard.

Sigfox – a European company started in 2010 with a mission to “connect every object in our physical world to the digital universe” has recently raised significant funding to accelerate IoT adoption worldwide.

NB-IoT – this “Narrow Band” LPWAN technology has been designed to provide simple solutions for industrial and agricultural IoT applications

Although LPWAN devices can cover a longer range, the trade-off is a limit to data transfers. Though it’s easy enough to send data from a humidity or soil pH sensor, you wouldn’t want to stream 4K video, even though this might be useful in showing important real-time imagery of significant crops.

LPWAN is also not as readily available, since most of today’s current infrastructure is designed to support  

high-bandwidth communication instead. However, a growing market for smart faming solutions may soon lead to new advances.

 

GPS/GNSS for Smart Farming

Another important wireless technology that’s been crucial for smart farming is the Global Positioning System (GPS) that is currently in the process of being replaced by the more advanced Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).

In smart farming, global positioning is needed for tracking, for example herds of animals and sometimes agricultural drones! John Deere is a pioneer in developing Precision Agriculture and Guidance devices that are used to guide farming equipment and track data to improve equipment control and efficiency.

 

Smart Farming Project for Arduino and Raspberry Pi

If you’re interested to explore how smart farming techniques could improve your own home gardening, there are a number of projects you might want to explore that typically involve wireless technology and Arduino or Raspberry Pi kits.

For example, check out this project that uses Arduino UNO to build a soil moisture sensor that can help you make sure your home-grown fruits and vegetables get just the amount of water they need.

And if you like this project, come back to our Vilros blog for new ideas on Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects and more of the latest IoT and smart technology news!