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The Smart Agriculture Revolution !!

The government realizes the need to bring about major changes into agriculture and incorporating the benefits of the digital revolution for better results.

 The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the agriculture industry and enabling farmers to contend with the enormous challenges they face. The industry must overcome increasing water shortages, limited availability of lands, difficult to manage costs, while meeting the increasing consumption needs of a global population that is expected to grow by 70% by 2050. (Reference: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

Smart farming is a concept quickly catching on in the agricultural business. Offering high-precision crop control, useful data collection, and automated farming techniques, there are clearly many advantages a networked farm has to offer

Why agriculture needs to improve?

Agriculture is one of the major industries in India. It employs around 50% of the workforce and along with fisheries and forestry contributes to 13% of the total GDP. India also is the 7th largest exporter of agricultural products in the world with exports being to the tune of USD 39 billion. However a nation with such a presence in the domain, lags behind when it comes to automation for the sector. With only 35% of farm land reliably irrigated and small sized farms being dominant, India’s efficiency of growing crops lags substantially when compared to nations like Brazil and China.

Problems faced include water logging, under and over use of fertilizers, and lack of understanding of soil health. There is also a dearth of accurate baseline data regarding different fields, and different soil types. This makes it impossible to understand how the yield of the land has either increased or decreased over the years.

How the solution would work?

The solution will employ multiple soil health sensors, a water pump, and a Data Concentrator Unit (DCU). The soil sensors will be used to collect various parameters of the soil and wirelessly transmit it to the DCU. Depending upon the inputs received, the DCU will take a decision to water the field. The DCU will then send a signal to the water pump to start the operation. Once the field is sufficiently watered, the DCU will send a signal to switch off the water pump.

The solution can also use a water level sensor to communicate with the DCU in case the water pump is going to raise water from a well. The water level sensor will also communicate with the DCU, and the DCU will have another parameter to take a decision of whether to water the field or not. Depending upon the inputs from the soil sensors the DCU can also send an alert to the farmer regarding which fertilizer to add and how much of it to add.

What features to expect?

New innovative IoT applications are addressing these issues and increasing the quality, quantity, sustainability and cost effectiveness of agricultural production. Today’s large and local farms can, for example, leverage IoT to remotely monitor sensors that can detect soil moisture, crop growth and livestock feed levels, remotely manage and control their smart connected harvesters and irrigation equipment, and utilize artificial intelligence based analytics to quickly analyze operational data combined with 3rd party information, such as weather services, to provide new insights and improve decision making.

Smart farming is a concept quickly catching on in the agricultural business. Offering high-precision crop control, useful data collection, and automated farming techniques, there are clearly many advantages a networked farm has to offer. These features include:-

  1. Productivity

The field of precision agriculture, a practice that uses analytics to optimize farming decisions, is a gold mine of opportunities for IoT innovation. Today, it’s more critical than ever to maximize yields from every acre of land dedicated to food production.

Wireless, cloud-connected systems aid in this crop yield maximization, automating everyday agriculture operations and providing real-time monitoring and data analysis for smart decision making, day-to-day and season-to-season. Connected equipment from companies like Topcon Precision Agricultureleverage GPS, monitoring and electronic controls to help farmers continually analyze and improve performance.

  1. Automated watering and Soil Health

Water retention in a given field depends on nature of soil and the temperature. The solution should consider these two parameters (and possibly more), and automatically operate the water pump to inundate the field.

New sensors are being developed that report various parameters of the soil including moisture, salinity, pH, and even residual nitrate level. Soil health will help to decide a wide variety of actions including how much fertilizer to use, which fertilizer to use, and what sort of crop to grow for maximum yield.

3.      Livestock Tracking

Most of the developed countries require livestock and processed food to be tagged with a tracking solution from the farm to the customer. Carriots enable the life cycle process of producing aliments and tracking them. By collecting data from different sources (animal RFID tags, processing food plants applications and logistics operators) all kind of applications can be developed to guarantee the origin and product quality.

  1. Avoiding water logged fields

Water logged fields should usually be avoided because it causes crop damage, and increase in alkalinity of the soil. The solution will help avoid waterlogging by controlling the amount of water let into the field.

  1. Pest Control

Pheromones are particularly useful when they are paired with the power of IoT. Wireless sensor networks like that of Semios monitor pest counts, and when it detects that the pest population is too high, its metered pheromone delivery system automatically activates and disrupts the mating patterns of pests. This minimizes, and in some cases completely replaces, pesticide use.

  1. Conservation

Farming in the face of water shortage has historically been a challenge, demanding extensive technical knowledge and mastery of complex data collection and irrigation systems. For effective drought response, farmers require precise, real-time information to help minimize waste, prevent over- and under-watering and proactively manage water costs.

Enter enterprise-grade IoT software. With embedded wireless devices and soil monitoring systems like that of Smart Watering Systems and Observant, farmers can measure moisture, detect leaks and more efficiently manage energy usage, all in real-time.

  1. Understanding the effects of fertilizers and pesticides

Different pesticides and fertilizers have different effects on both the soil health and the yield. The solution will help understand the effects of various fertilizers, and help the farmer to choose one that gives maximum benefit from the point of view of both yield per hectare, and soil health.

  1. Preventing emptying of water tank / well

As mentioned earlier, 35% of agricultural land in India is reliably irrigated. However it is important to make sure that the available water is used judiciously and effectively. Water tanks or wells shouldn’t be drained completely either on purpose or by accident. The solution will help avoid this issue by switching off the water pump when the water level drops below a certain threshold.

  1. Preventing emptying of water tank / well

As mentioned earlier, 35% of agricultural land in India is reliably irrigated. However it is important to make sure that the available water is used judiciously and effectively. Water tanks or wells shouldn’t be drained completely either on purpose or by accident. The solution will help avoid this issue by switching off the water pump when the water level drops below a certain threshold.

  1. Maintaining optimal soil health

As mentioned earlier, soil health is a huge factor when it comes to the yield obtained from the land. Soil health depends on a variety of factors like pH level, residual nitrate level, water retaining ability etc. using soil sensors, and storing the soil data on the Internet will help to have access to historic health and the current health of the soil. This will help to identify what steps to take to increase and maintain soil health at an optimum level.

  1. Proactive alerts

The solution will empower the farmer to understand the current condition of the field. Alerts will be sent to the mobile phone in case of watering, or when the need for more fertilizer arises.

The solution should update the data collected in the field to the internet. This baseline data will help to understand how parameters like fertilizer / pesticide brand, quality of the soil and the crops being grown have affected the production over the years. This will help the farmer to make informed decisions regarding what to grow in the coming seasons, to ensure not only highest yield per hectare, but to also maintain the health of the soil.

  1. Continual Value

For agriculture, the greatest challenge — and opportunity — is offering service beyond product. Fundamentally, farmers care about results. Agriculture technology needs to deliver new, incremental value throughout the product lifecycle, akin to the subscription-based software industry’s task of continually adding features and functionality after releasing a title.

Conclusion…………….

The IoT can be used to help determine when, where and how much water is needed in agricultural irrigation in times of El Nino as well as drought. It can also help livestock farming be done smarter. Deployment of an IoT network can make energy use more efficient and less costly in many aspects of farming.  Although the IoT cannot change the type of soil where a crop is grown, it can provide actionable information to make water use more efficient and less wasteful, particularly in places where water is scarce.

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  1. Rajkumar
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