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AIoT in agriculture – a growing benefit

The AIot Show - Agriculture

An ever-growing global population, the rise of extreme weather conditions and a decrease of arable land mean that our dependence on growing and providing our own food will hugely increase in the coming decades. To keep up, agriculture is going to need to be smarter and more efficient, so it’s no surprise to hear talk of a “Third Green Revolution” gathering momentum.

The farming industry has long been pinpointed as one of the key segments that can benefit from AIoT and so-called Smart Agriculture has already made great strides in addressing the issues facing society.

Smart agriculture is ultimately the application of Internet of Things technology in agricultural production, operation, management and service. With the use of sensors and drones, AI tech is helping farmers improve their yields in both quantity and quality, thanks to (among other things) accurate seasonal forecasting that predicts the weather for when and how to plan their crops and utilize resources in the most optimal way.

On the road

The intelligent systems work out optimal settings based on weather conditions, water usage, temperature and crop and soil conditions, while data collected from sensors is analyzed so that farmers can make decisions on crop choices, fertilizers, irrigation and pest control.

And smart connected devices will help in many more ways besides, including identifying pests, helping farmers reduce their workloads and generally increasing the efficiency of operations.

The intelligent systems work out optimal settings based on weather conditions, water usage, temperature and crop and soil conditions, while data collected from sensors is analyzed so that farmers can make decisions on crop choices, fertilizers, irrigation and pest control.

And smart connected devices will help in many more ways besides, including identifying pests, helping farmers reduce their workloads and generally increasing the efficiency of operations.

A matter of precision

In what has become known as Precision Farming, accurate technology enables plants and cattle to get the exact treatment they need, allowing farmers to boost the effectiveness of pesticides and fertilizers, while in the case of livestock, smart new techniques can help farmers monitor the needs of individual animals better and adjust their nutrition accordingly.

This should result in healthier animals and fewer diseases being spread. Farmers, meanwhile, can also use smart connected devices to check on where their cattle are, and on their health and well-being, as well as identify sick animals that should be separated from the rest of the herd to avoid any diseases spreading.

Aerial perspective

The use of computer vision with AI will also help with monitoring crops to identify problem areas and generate alerts when necessary. Using agricultural drones, farmers can easily keep an eye on the condition of their crops and some of these machines can even be used for applying fertilizers and pesticides.

The sensors employed are connected to the transmission network, and farmers can then use wired or wireless communication networks to collect and analyse all the relevant information they need. In IoT-driven smart greenhouses as well, sensors deployed to work out the exact needs of the crops can intelligently monitor and control the climate inside the facility.

Meanwhile, the benefits of smart technology in agriculture won’t just be limited to crops and livestock. Farmers will be able to use the technology to reduce their own workloads, cover manpower shortages more efficiently and redeploy people in ways that make more sense for their overall operations.

Selfparking cars

Bosch sensors are naturally at the heart of Smart Agriculture. “AIoT can really help farmers to be more efficient in their production, especially when it comes to detecting critical situations in daily operations,” says Ralf Mårtensson, Business Development Manager, Bosch Nordic.

“Early detection with microphones is key in avoiding unwanted shutdowns that, in turn can lead to production issues. But if you can detect and predict the need for service and maintenance in farming machines such as tractors, milking machines, compressors, fans, heaters and so on, it can make a big difference,” he adds.

In the Nordics, Bosch have also been developing an app for farmers in partnership with an agricultural IT provider. “The solution we work with supports the farmer with sound data, GPS and weather data from different sources. It can recognize the status of a machine, where and when work has been done in a field and suggest when to do the next step for increased production,” says Mårtensson.

A helping hand

Underlining the potential for AIoT in agriculture, support is at hand from higher places too. A European Commission initiative, the Internet of Food and Farm 2020, was established to explore the potential of IoT technologies for the European food and farming industry. Broken down into five sectors (arable dairy, fruits, meat and vegetables), the plan is to develop, test and demonstrate IoT technologies in operational farm environments across Europe.

While there is little question that the possibilities for AIoT in agriculture are exciting, they are far from straightforward, however. New technology comes at a cost that may be beyond the means of many, while a lack of IT knowledge also poses an issue. There is also a question of trust in technology, as change itself can be slow in what could be described as the world’s oldest industry.

The potential is there however, and what we know for sure is that the demand is there too.

And with a population that may increase to 9.6 billion by 2050, it will be up to politicians, farmers and entrepreneurs to make sure it happens and that the wind continues to blow in the right direction – long live the revolution!

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