– Originally written by Xavier Dupont, Senior Director Product Line at Lantronix –
The agriculture industry is facing many challenges in meeting the increased demand for crop production while adapting to the increased supply costs and labour shortages. While farming has been a traditional industry, young and innovative farmers are leveraging the technology of the future to address these challenges.
This shift brought advancements in livestock technology, automation and robotics, precision agriculture, and artificial intelligence. Now, farmers are looking to future tech to see how it can transform this millennia-old industry.
Challenges Facing the Modern Farmer
Around 12,000 years ago, humans’ hunter-gatherer ancestors first began herding wild livestock and farming the land for crops like lentils, barley, and peas. For thousands of years after the advent of farming, the industry experienced only minor innovations until the First Industrial Revolution.
Farming may be thought of as being “behind the times” with technology, but farming is, and always has been, one of the industries leading the way through each industrial revolution. Many of the challenges have been the same, no matter the time. Farmers struggle for better crop yield against inflating operating costs and shortage of capable labourers. As the world population grows and more industries struggle to keep up with changing demands and rising prices, the farming industry is at risk of getting left behind.
Fortunately, the Internet of Things (IoT) offers solutions for the agriculture industry through connected devices and data-driven insights that maximise efficiency and minimise costs.
IoT Core Building Blocks
The core building blocks of IoT, known as the “five Cs,” offer guidance for organisations to achieve modern objectives with IoT. The five Cs are not steps or rungs on a ladder, however. They must work together in an integrated framework to address specific challenges.
Here are the five IoT core building blocks that reinvent the farming industry:
The foundation of IoT is data collection, storage, and transfer. The data provided by IoT devices offers businesses insights to make informed, verified decisions to improve processes, address weaknesses, and deliver exceptional service. This raw data factors into your development of the other Cs in your IoT stack.
Keep in mind that collecting and storing data brings a lot of responsibility. The data collected may contain sensitive information about your customers, employees, or proprietary business information, so it must be secure. Your organisation is trusted to keep this data safe and secure, so you are liable if any collected data is leaked or stolen.
Data should be collected securely and transferred effortlessly. Secure, centralised data hubs that store and analyse data as it’s recorded offer protection and security for sensitive information. IoT has the potential to collect and process massive stores of data, but the concerns for security increase with higher data volumes.
IoT’s primary benefit is connection. Similar to a smartphone, connected devices allow communication throughout a network and the means by which to collect data. This network facilitates seamless data collection and transmission across an expansive range, all at incredible speed.
One of the greatest benefits of IoT for business is with remote work capability. IoT devices allow employees to work from home for better productivity without sacrificing collaboration and communication. This connectivity also benefits the farming industry by allowing employees to connect and operate equipment in distant or inhospitable environments, monitor livestock herds and crop fields by drone, or manage a greenhouse environment through remote access and automation.
Raw data is meaningless by itself, no matter how efficiently it’s collected or how securely it’s stored. Modern IoT systems and hardware offer computing options that can be tailored to organisational needs. Enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning, data can be processed quickly and accurately for rapid data insights to fuel fast pivots in an evolving business world.
With computing, farmers can monitor the condition of equipment, livestock, and crops to identify problems early and address them quickly. Analysing data also reveals inefficiencies in processes, such as cultivation or shipping and logistics, to save time, money, and resources.
Comprehension is the second part of analysing data. Once the data is computed, it needs to be deciphered to develop actionable insights. If you understand your data, you can make informed business decisions and develop strategies to improve your processes. Artificial intelligence aids IoT devices to identify patterns in data sets and simplify massive volumes of data.
Some examples of data comprehension in farming include livestock data through wearable sensors, which provide information on the health, nutritional soundness, and genetics of the herd and identify potential problems. Data can offer the same insights about crop health and weather patterns.
The best technology in the world is useless if you can’t control it. The control of IoT devices is imperative to make the most of their potential. IoT technologies are designed to do a lot of the work for you, but they’re not a replacement for human creativity and decision-making.
At every stage of the process, IoT puts you at the forefront to show you ways to make a business run better and more profitably, but only if acted upon. Because of this, it’s vital that each C of IoT is thoroughly understood and addressed for fast, accurate insights that can be used to fuel business growth and efficiency in a rapidly evolving industry.
Bringing Forward-Thinking IoT Innovation to the Farming Industry
IoT technology is fairly new to the farming industry, but as the challenges for farmers increase, more and more innovators are adopting IoT to adapt to the rapid changes in agriculture. Like the mavericks of the industrial revolutions that came before, young farmers are leveraging emerging and futuristic technologies to automate processes, improve yield, and deliver better service and satisfaction to employees and customers.
The data-driven, tech-focused approach to IoT implementation is the best choice for modern, interconnected farms with a focus on sustainability and efficiency. The five Cs of IoT are necessary for an agile, integrated agricultural organisation that’s ready for whatever the future of farming will bring.
Xavier Dupont is the Senior Director Product Line, at Lantronix, a global provider of turnkey solutions and engineering services for the internet of things (IoT). Xavier’s and Lantronix’s goal is to enable IoT and their clients digital transformation by providing technology block from sensing, to data collection and visualisation.