Part 1 of 6
Food, an absolute necessity for survival, has been gaining an increased attention from all quarters ranging from the farming community across the globe to W.H.O., the World Health Organization. If the latest studies are any indication, global population is expected to rise to over 20 Billion by the year 2050. It indicates a multiplication of 250%. Alarming is the need for more revolutionary ways, means, systems, equipment, control as well as growth techniques that would prepare us to feed everybody without causing a stir.
Researchers, scientists, agricultural communities as well as all other related sectors are hard at work to come up with a logical solution to the rising challenge.
Over the last three years, I have been studying the trends, the research as well as innovation at work in this field. The main focus of my research in this field has helped me put together some facts from this study born out of my curiosity in the field of ‘Internet of Things’ or “IoT.” I am happy to share the results of my study in the area of Global Food Preparedness in six parts. It encompasses many different facets ranging from the use of sensors for predictive management of farms and equipment, livestock management, logistics, curtailing the use of fertilizers and chemicals as growth stimulants, timely delivery of highest nutrition to the consumers as well relative growth in food production in tune with rising population.
These six articles form an integral part of my upcoming book on the pervasive impact of ‘Internet of Things’ on life as we see it change over the next few decades.
The new ‘avatar’ of the Internet, as we see it today, is making quantum leaps as see growing prevalence of connectivity spread its wings to machines, equipment, gadgets, systems, even livestock. Experiments are already underway to insert preprogrammed chips in humans to eliminate Credit Card fraud and save billions of dollars in extra cost passed on the consumers. With over 20 billion devices already connected to the Internet, the boundaries of communication and collaboration across the globe and beyond (the Space Station) have been falling by the wayside. No other vehicle could draw together billions of individuals before introducing social media platforms.
The increasing tendency towards more active and intense online engagement has brought ‘Things’ to these Internet connective domains. Experts predict world trade to receive an increase worth trillions of dollars that the conventional practices could not count on any other form. The widening recognition of “IoT” by various groups of people, governments, industries, and consumers alike has expanded the prospects of ‘intelligent networks.’ It has become possible to allow devices with diverse roles to talk in a way nobody could ever conceive.
Agriculture is no exception in this race for developing a unique structure of ‘Things.’ There exist many complex elements where traditional farming could improve to a degree beyond imagination. To make sense of this assertion, let us examine the various ways farmers can benefit. Our focus should be on matters connected to crop condition, improvement possibilities, disease prevention, and cultivation.
Continued soil nutrient replenishment is another major responsibility that peasants must keep at ideal levels. ‘Internet of Things’ is making this chore easier through widespread use of customized sensors. Their customized programming works in the style of a farm-specific Weather Station and health administrator in one.
Advanced farms of the future shall be able to automate continuous vigil on conditions varying from precipitation to humidity in the earth and on to winter frost projections. There may not be any more tracts of dry soil or submerged sections of the field as both water delivery and sewerage will undergo automation.
The intelligence gathered by the embedded sensors leads to a series of predictive actions. The information so gathered goes to the farmer’s Smart Phone. The farmer is at once empowered to start defensive and corrective procedure.
Connected devices in the field could give basic procedural directions to the “IoT” enabled machinery. The sensors embedded within the equipment activate opening or shutting down of the effluent valves. Complicated mineral and fertilizer treatments become easily manageable with the help of “IoT” connected smart sensors. The operator needs not be present there to supervise any activity.
Proper prompt and cost-effective management of fertilizers, insecticides, and fungicides serve two primary objectives. On the one hand, the farmers save huge chunks of money through eradication of waste. On the other, they can ensure higher standards of vitamins in the produce so harvested.
The rising popularity of intelligent sensors assists farmers by delivering vital information related to particular trouble spots on the field. This way, it becomes easier to identify the origin of any contamination at the beginning stage and protect the whole harvest.
A single piece of equipment alone can deliver every fragment of intelligence that the producers need. Is it any wonder the smart sensors have taken the lead? These can work on each challenge e.g. soil condition monitoring, keeping track of moisture content, the salt component in the water, and conductivity. Weather sensors give out current readings, humidity related updates, atmospheric pressure, wind drift, and velocity. Plant sensors can track Hydrogen level, photosynthesis, carbon dioxide, need to protect against a possible cold front and temperature variations.
Trimble is the site for a leading company spearheading the “IoT” drive with precision agriculture products under the banner of ‘Connected Farm.’ Based in Sunnyvale, California the firm claims “Access Your Farm Data Anywhere, Anytime.”
“Find all vital information in one location such as commodity cash bids and futures prices, weather forecasts, field tasks, fleet locations, and more from a computer, tablet, or Smart Phone connected to the Internet.”
Here is a quote from the company’s site:
Manage Precision Farming Maps and Field Records
Track Farm Profitability
Monitor Fleet Positions and Health
Track Fleet Utilization
Monitor In-Season Crop Health
Share Your Data
Dirt Road Data provides Cloud-based smart Poultry Farming solutions to keep rigid control over the key operational details. These include real-time bird count, egg metrics including any departure from historical accounts, and feed use to get best possible results.
‘OnFarm’ based in Fresno, California claims: “We found that large volumes of raw data were available from sensors, controllers, monitors, and software applications, but may not be used as information for making the many agronomic decisions that are required to be successful.
So we got to work, pioneering the concept of building an ‘Internet-of-Things’ platform that combines a comprehensive array of leading farm hardware technologies into a single, grower-friendly platform.
OnFarm was born as a unique farm management tool that displays and analyzes data from many different sources in a single, easy-to-use application. More importantly, it turns that data into valuable information, aiding growers and their trusted advisors in making a sound, science-based decision in near real-time.”
On the subject of livestock, the producers can maintain trouble-free delivery of the same by adopting pro-active response with real-time data processing.
The general condition of farm animals, slaughter animals, and fowl becomes easier to manage, thanks to “IoT.” The moving force behind such an initiative is connectivity, further reinforced by Smart Phone access. This process helps with both feed cycles and feed-based medication. The two can run in an efficient way whether during or after treatment.
SeeHorse is one such device with 24/7/365 monitoring ability intended for horses. As per the company’s website “SeeHorse is a revolutionary equine tracking device that allows you to have an in-depth look and analysis of your horses’ health, fitness, and well-being. When worn on a horse, SeeHorse measures and scans vital signs and movement in real time and records and logs historical data, all of which can is available through the SeeHorse app on a Smart Phone or tablet.”
The above method offers live updates on the individual animal wearing this device. The person accredited to accept such updates on the Smart Phone will notice whether the animal is standing or reclining, grazing or walking, galloping, trotting or cantering. Not just that, it is much easier to generate daily reports and build graphs with historical data to assist:
Serious horse owners
Horse transportation carriers & staff
Equestrian insurance providers and
The vast array of information on every possible condition related to the subject animal is available on this website. Interested readers can learn the immense possibilities of how ‘Internet of Things’ is making a huge leap in the entire microcosm.
The latest and the greatest in smart farming technology is available at www.claas.co.in
Developing countries will be the biggest gainers of “IoT” enabled farm management options. The resulting improvement in crop management means better and higher produce with lower human intervention through proven connectivity. Data-driven farming will not leave the farmer at the mercy of nature, as is rampant in most of the under-developed and developing nations. Farming communities can see the increased production an opportunity to adopt a more relaxed lifestyle.
“IoT” brings easier access to advanced information and the most modern techniques for growing availability of related education. These advances give farmers far and wide the ability to raise more nutrition-rich crops consistently. This initiative is the catalyst for extensive development in smart agriculture. The farmers develop the capacity to augment their irrigation and water management needs that are so essential in rain-dependent farming.
The above curtain raiser should force the non-believers to put their thinking caps on. They need to look into innovative farming methods. There is an urgent need to create avenues so the dwindling number of farms may feed the rising demands of a growing population. We also need to keep in mind that crossing the 10 billion people threshold is not too far ahead while landmass remains the same. Unless we take a radical approach to increase yield, the future will only bring us famines and hunger in disturbing frequency.
How we prepare for the onslaught is up to ourselves and no one else. To face this challenge, we need to cut waste. Improving systems, equipment, techniques, and focus on prompt information gathering can dictate the outcome of success against certain failure.
It will only help when we open our eyes and ears to the technological rumblings. The change is happening all around, whether we recognize it or not. There is not a single industry that remains untouched by the multitude of possibilities ‘Internet of Things’ brings in its wake. Sooner we accept it and prepare ourselves, the better positioned we shall be, to reap its benefits!