The Internet of Things (IoT) is the collective, cloud-based storage of data coming from sensors (things) in a variety of sources that responds in real-time to enhance overall performance. The IoT is already present in a variety of factories and even our personal devices. However, it is important to remember that the IoT incorporates much more than this, even improving the processes of industries that you wouldn’t normally expect to be involved with such advanced technology. One of these is agriculture, which can greatly benefit from the IoT.
Agriculture is actually one of the best industries for the Internet of Things, and as startup companies invest millions in smart farming technology, many of them see significant results. To meet the needs of possible global food shortages from a growing population, this technology is devoted to mainly to increasing productivity, efficiently eliminating pests, and minimizing waste.
The IoT is in the process of greatly advancing the modern farming technique known as Precision Agriculture, or the use of collective data, including predictive weather analytics, to procure a greater harvest. The company Wilbur Ellis is pioneering the Precision Agriculture movement by heavily implementing the IoT into its data collection focusing on crop protection, nutrition, and seed technology. Prior to the use of advanced sensors, the company struggled with data capturing software that was mainly used on laptops, so field specialists needed to rely on clipboards and pencils as they went out into the field to collect data that would later be analyzed.
However, with the implementation of the IoT, Wilbur Ellis and smaller farming operations are able to make use of data in real-time to enhance their business. By pairing the IoT with precision agriculture, control centers collect and process accurate and continuous data to help farmers make the best decisions with regard to planting, fertilizing and harvesting crops
What the Internet of Things Does for Agriculture
The sensors used in agricultural processes are placed throughout the fields to measure the temperature and humidity of the soil and the surrounding air. This gives instantaneous data on the local weather conditions that are affecting the seeds and plants. Precision agriculture pairs this sensor-based data with images of the cropfields that are taken using satellite imagery and robotic drones. Since these images are collected over time, they show crop maturity, and the two processes together give companies like IBM the ability to make predictive weather models.
Predictive weather models are incredibly important to manage the growth of crops simply because a harvest is largely dependent on the weather conditions, whether it be from photosynthesis to grow, or a rainstorm that could wash them away.
However, there are also sensors that analyze almost all other farming processes. Farming equipment, like many other pieces of modern technology, are hooked up to the IoT. So is much of the livestock. With embedded Internet sensors that do not cause the animals discomfort, farmers can monitor what has been called the Internet of Animal Health Things (IoAHT).
Using the IoAHT allows professionals to strive towards two main objectives: humane treatment of animals and reduced labor and capital inputs. Sensors embedded in farm animals closely monitor their health, and any variations, as with changes in other sensors, are detected in real time. This grants a major increase in productivity while ensuring proper treatment and traceability of animals.
Something else noteworthy about the IoAHT is that there is little about it that limits it to agriculture, and has potential to help improve health treatment of pets.
Second Green Revolution
The human population is drastically higher than ever before, and it only continues to grow. By the year 2050, the Earth’s population is projected to grow to 9.7 billion, an amount dangerously close to our carrying capacity, or population that our planet’s resources can sustain, of 10 billion.
As we discussed in our post on ANSI GELPP 001-2002: Livestock Operations Conditions, in the mid-Twentieth Century, there was a “Green Revolution” that made use of advanced technology that to allow farmers to increase crop yield while decreasing total space needed for farmland. With the potential for increased yield through the IoT, we might be in the beginnings of a needed Second Green Revolution to feed the skyrocketing human population.
The Second Green Revolution is not only focused on the IoT, however. Other modern innovations are helping to secure food for the future, such as the newly cultivated “scuba rice”, which can survive two weeks underwater.
INCITS/IoT10, a subcommittee of ISO/IEC JTC 1, focuses on standardization of the Internet of Things. The U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator of ISO/IEC JTC 1 is the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), an ANSI-accredited standards developing organization.