Wondering what the fuss is about smart agriculture? What is it and how does it benefit you? There are quite a lot of pros which you should know about!
In agriculture, the Internet of Things (IoT) has managed to provide solutions to what have been in the past tedious and time-consuming tasks. IoT has managed to re-dimension the way we think about agriculture, ushering in the age of climate smart agriculture.
Yet, smart agriculture is a fairly recent concept. Farmers tend to either not be familiar with aspects such as precision agriculture, or are getting warmed to the idea. The reality is that smart agriculture is the future of farming, and you should read on to get to know more about it if you care about the future of your agricultural practice.
The term smart agriculture refers to the usage of technologies like the Internet of Things, sensors, and AI in your farming system. The aim is to increase the quality and quantity of products, optimize labor practice to high levels of effectiveness, and of course, save you time and money.
The problem with agriculture
The growing global population in the last decades, combined with ever-changing diets, has seen a much-increased demand for food. Technological innovations have been vital, but suppliers are still struggling to meet global demands as crops fail, ocean health declines, and natural resources such as soil, water and biodiversity are being exhausted.
A 2020 report found that the number of people suffering from malnutrition shot up by nearly 60 million to a total of 690 million people, which accounts for 8.9 percent of the global population. As things are going, food challenges will become stronger, with the world needing a 70 percent increase in food production by 2050 in order to feed an estimated 9 billion people.
These challenges are augmented by agriculture’s vulnerability to climate change. Whilst some question if climate change even exists, the world has been seeing and feeling seen rising temperatures, increased weather variability, extreme weather events, the shifting agro-ecosystem boundaries, as well as invasive crops and pests. This in turn has resulted in reduced crop yields and nutritional quality along with the lowering of livestock production.
The problem also works in reverse. Agriculture is a major part of the climate problem. It currently generates 19–29% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Without action, that percentage could rise substantially as other sectors reduce their emissions. Additionally, 1/3 of food produced globally is either lost or wasted. Addressing food loss and waste is critical to helping meet climate goals and reduce stress on the environment.
In addition, by 2030, 25 percent of the global population will be threatened by water shortages. Despite water scarcity, however, irrigation continues to represent around 70 percent of the total demand for water, in competition with domestic, industrial, and environmental uses for what is already a scant water supply.
What is the solution to agricultural problems?
In order to fix these ever-growing problems, farmers will need to adapt and make substantial investments in order to look forward to improved systems, produce, and ultimately gains in what is a competitive market. Enter smart farming and IoT-driven agriculture both of which are paving the way for what is being termed the Third Green Revolution.
The Third Green Revolution draws upon the combined application of data-driven analytics technologies, such as precision farming equipment, Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, drones, robotics, etc. This is a future in which the use of pesticides and fertilizers will drop, whilst efficiency will rise. IoT technologies will enable better food traceability, and in turn, increased food safety. This will also benefit the environment through increased efficiency in the use of water, or the optimization of treatments and inputs.
How does smart agriculture work?
Information gathered from the collection of data is key. The sensors installed at all critical places in the farm gather and transmit data about the soil, water, light, humidity, temperature management etc. Here, specialized software solutions that target specific farm types or applications agnostic IoT platforms are used. Data collected leads to conclusions regarding the status of the object or process monitored.
Potential problems get identified and decisions taken on such basis. The software platform and/or a human managing the platform decides on actions that need to be taken. A new measurement on soil, air, moisture, etc is performed by the sensors and the whole cycle starts again. The result of smart farming processing is a highly precise, 24/7 control, which eventually leads to considerable savings in all key resources used in the farming process, such as water, energy and fertilizers, as well as time-consumption by various sectors of human resources.
Take smart watering for example. Smart watering is the latest generation of watering solutions. This innovation has advantages of both irrigation programmer and centralized watering systems such as a low cost of maintenance, the simplicity of utilization, and installation while saving a large quantity of water. Smart watering in agriculture is nowadays used to monitor soil and water plants and other green spaces efficiently and effectively.
Sensors use soil moisture levels and weather data to adjust irrigation times every day, determine the perfect time for watering and as a result reduce unnecessary water consumption. This automatic system saves you between 30-67 percent in terms of water consumption. Moreover, connected water meters enable leaks detection and weather stations to give a global vision of water intake and temperatures.
The future of smart agriculture
Key players operating in this market are continuously improving their products whilst trying to generate more public awareness on the subject. Communication between stakeholders remains challenging. Smart agriculture helps farmers optimize their decision-making. this means better products, increased revenues, and managed, confident risk-taking based on data research. Innovation and adaptation to future challenges will be crucial if agricultural projects are to thrive.