Is smart farming the future of agriculture?

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Farmers face more pressure than ever before. Demand for food is growing as the population increases, and land is taken as urbanisation spreads. Moving forward, agricultural enterprises need to operate in new and adapted ways in order to survive. Emerging technology, falling under the banner of Smart Farming, offers today’s farmers that possibility.

Farmers face unprecedented challenges as they try to pass the agricultural way of life to future generations, due to:

  • Rising operational and personnel costs.
  • The traditional unpredictability of weather, soil health, and hydration becoming more pronounced as humanity’s footprint grows.
  • Intensified competition, as consumer goods suppliers try to cap or lower product pricing.
  • The international landscape becoming more volatile.
  • The constant change in government policies.

As a result, farmers’ profits are dwindling. Local farms, including some in the world’s most fertile lands, are on the decline. Consequently, building a viable business has become more challenging, and the farmers need to find ways to work smarter and not just harder. Technology offers the key.

Historically, agricultural facilities invested immense amounts of time, money, and effort in ordering, unloading, storing, planting, monitoring, cultivating, and ultimately harvesting crops. New smart farming technologies can offer new ways to streamline the workflow, improve operations, and by doing so, create more robust businesses.

IoT’s Bright Agricultural Future

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the linchpin in this transformation. Intelligent sensors are placed throughout a farm becoming the farmer’s eyes and ears, collecting information on crop and equipment performance.

One of the most valuable features of IoT technology is its ability to extend visibility to new endpoints. Empowered with real-time monitoring and analytics systems, farmers gain more insight into their operations, and the ability to manage them more effectively. Following, are some of the ways that smart farming improves agricultural enterprises:

Monitoring Crop Growth

IoT in the agriculture industry helps farmers improve the quality of the crops and the fertility of the land. Sensors collect nutrient density information, so farmers can adjust the amount of fertilizer used. If signs of infestation arise, regulating pesticides can be used to eliminate the invasion. In essence, data-driven agriculture empowers farms. Information received allows for the adjustment of activities reflecting the current conditions, manages the crop cycle more easily, gains efficiency, and enhances crop growth.

Improving Greenhouse Operations

Greenhouse IoT sensors not only improve visibility but also automate traditional manual functions, thus making the entire process simpler and more automated. They collect and transmit real-time data, such as air pressure, humidity, temperature, light levels, and soil conditions. Even water consumption can be monitored with email or SMS alerts sent if any shortcomings arise. In advanced systems, adjustments can occur automatically. The processes become more cost-effective, accuracy increases, and operational performance improves.

Track Water Use

Agricultural IoT helps farmers monitor water tank levels in real-time, by tracking how much water is being used, and how much is left. Smartphones deliver intuitive reports that outline trends, and in some cases even make recommendations. The farmers can then adjust water usage as needed so the irrigation process becomes more efficient and more economical.

Predictive Equipment Maintenance

Through IoT, farmers can in real-time monitor their land, vehicles, and other assets. Because the equipment is vital to daily operation, farmers want to minimise downtime. This provides a view of device performance, which updates as the equipment operates.

Advanced data analytics supplies them with needed management insights. Artificial intelligence and machine learning gauge an asset’s typical efficiency and wear and tear based on metrics, like vibration analysis, oil analysis, and thermal imaging. Predictive maintenance models rely on complex algorithms to identify when an asset will need to be serviced, repaired, or retired. These insights come before – rather than during or after – the devices stop performing, keeping the farm’s operations flowing without any hiccups.

The benefits include:

  • lengthened machinery lifecycles
  • lowered downtime
  • more productive employees

Smart Livestock Management

A great deal of time, effort, and money goes into livestock monitoring. Traditionally, individuals manually inspected animals and looked for signs of disease or injury. The process was costly, highly unreliable, and inefficient. IoT solutions remove any speculation when determining an animal’s health, by monitoring temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, etc.

The information is wirelessly sent to an application in near real-time. Farmers can then access the information via mobile devices.

  • The health and location of each animal in their herds can be checked from anywhere.
  • Information about the peak of mating season can be determined.
  • Alerts are received if a metric falls outside of the normal range.
  • Preferred grazing spots can easily be recognised.

Developing personalised services

By adopting smart farming technology, farmers are empowered to develop more personalised approaches, and this ability changes the relationship between consumers and retailers. The farmers are able to focus on consumers who are interested in sustainability and eco-friendly food, while the focus is kept on creating new strands of their products. They can then charge a premium for their goods, grow revenue, and create a stronger business.

How Does Smart Farming Benefit Agriculture?

Smart sensors automatically monitor every aspect of everyday agricultural work. The technology enables farmers to:

  • automate real-time data collection
  • increase production volumes
  • reduce costs
  • manage expenses proactively
  • improve overall efficiency
  • lower waste
  • mitigate damage from pests
  • streamline livestock management
  • increase productivity
  • boost efficiency

The many benefits are convincing farmers to invest in the technology. In fact, a worldwide smart farming review showed spend is expected to increase from $3.715 billion in 2022 to $7.040 billion in 2026, a CAGR of 13.65 %. By then, farmers will have deployed hundreds of millions of IoT sensors for the improvement of their everyday operations.

To conclude, smart farming technology offers businesses new ways to drive agricultural efficiency, and by doing so also reduces costs, and increases revenue. In other words, smart farming technology is most significant for the development of modern farming and will keep agricultural industries viable for years to come.

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