Recorded history can be traced through agriculture. When we started planting and sowing crops, we started to evolve as a society. So, if we can use agriculture for measuring our success and value as a society, what does the current trend of smart farming say about us?
We are trying to use all our most advanced technologies to improve the way we produce food. Drones, AI, sensors, IoT, the Cloud – it’s all being used in agriculture today.
On one hand, it’s driven by the basic human need to improve and grow, and on the other hand, it is driven by a real, urgent need to produce more food, as the global population grows each day. According to the UN, the world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. Of course, this means that we need to be more practical, and start solving real challenges in the field now.
Out of all the technologies mentioned, most have been used experimentally, and within large tracts and companies. So, what we are asking is: what are the IoT solutions for smart farming that can be easily used by small and medium food, crop, and plant producers?
Once smaller producers start fully implementing IoT technology we will have a true agricultural revolution.
Current status of smart agriculture
These days smart farming is attracting more and more investors. Food production is becoming a hot IoT topic. IoT not only aims to make food production more profitable, but also more sustainable, efficient, and with a much lower rate of using pesticides and fertilizers.
“Green” and “sustainable” are powerful buzzwords that are used to drive more sales in almost every industry, but it is especially obvious when it comes to the way we see our food, and how it is sourced and produced.
When we are discussing innovation in agriculture, it is not only new technology that needs to be considered, but we also need to take into account that educating and connecting farmers around the world has tremendous potential for change.
Drones are one of the most popular, and most used technologies in smart agriculture now. They not only serve a real purpose in field surveillance, but also in seed planting and crop spraying.
Thanks to drones, farmers can achieve precise mapping and yield monitoring with aerial surveillance. For example, farmers can spot diseases within a crop and make adjustments before the disease spreads to the entire field.
Drones are especially useful in larger fields where it is necessary to calculate slopes, ditches, and other natural features.
Precision farming with sensors
If you have moisture, temperature, and acidity sensors implemented in your field or greenhouse, you know precisely the amount of water and nutrients each plant needs in order to achieve the best performance.
This method of food production is called precision farming and it’s been used for a while now.
Sensors are getting cheaper every day, and even small producers can afford to make this kind of investment.
According to the Horizon 2020 Demeter project, the precision farming market is expected to hit $9.5 billion in the next few years.
Predicting weather patterns and conditions
It’s not only the soil that sensors are being used for. Smart weather stations are a great way to predict weather patterns and conditions in small areas and allow the farmers to react in a timely manner.
For example, if the weather station in your apple orchard detects that a hail storm is coming, you can react, and protect your crop by covering the trees with protective nets. If the weather station detects that large amounts of rain are expected you can reduce or shut down the irrigation system, etc.
The main benefit of a greenhouse is that it provides a controlled environment that can be customized to suit the crops that you are growing. The concept is not really high-tech on its own. Greenhouses have been in use since the early 1800s.
But what happens when we apply IoT and AI to them?
By combining the power of IoT and the intelligence of AI you get a plethora of information from a single dashboard and manage the growth and production of your plants with the highest precision. Data like:
- Ph levels of the soil
- Luminosity within the greenhouse
- The moisture of the soil
- Energy consumption
- Water consumption
- Air temperature
- CO2 levels
For instance, with just the data from CO2 levels, you would be able to know if the greenhouse needs a different level of ventilation, or if the temperature needs to be adjusted to suit the plants more.
Zerynth case study – smart plant nursery in Tuscany
This fits perfectly with our own case study – The Smart Plant Nursery.
Our team provided Pierucci Agricoltura with Nurset, an IoT-enabled solution that is designed for monitoring the cultivation of ornamental plants in nurseries.
This system allows information analysis, manages an alert system, and digitizes documentation for nutrition and crop protection. Moreover, it can create a digital treatment logbook, with the ability to export reports.
If you want to discover how this Zerynth-powered solution helps to optimize plant growth, read the case study.