The 2015 growing season is well underway, as diligent farmers sow seeds that grow into fruits and vegetables that supply the population with nutritious calories. People have come a long way since they stopped hunting and gathering food in small nomadic tribes, but where do today’s farmers go to grow crops for an exponentially expanding society in an ever-changing environment? In both rural and urban settings, outdoor Wi-Fi, wireless sensors and wearable technology can give farmers the edge they need to produce the best yields to sell at the highest margins.
Throughout the agricultural timeline, smart farming, also known as precision farming, is still in its infancy, but as a young sapling, it has enormous potential. The benefits of having a web-connected farm include reduced labor costs, decreased pollution and erosion, access to advanced analytical tools such as up-to-date economic conditions on crop futures, weather data, and crop disease tagging, pest infestation and genetics. deformities IP video camera systems can monitor cattle and their handlers 24 hours a day. A GPS-guided tractor can follow a carefully planned path to maximize seed delivery with minimal fertilizer use. Clay Mitchell of Waterloo, Iowa, is a pioneer of smart farming technology. He regularly works with agricultural companies to incorporate his engineering expertise into new equipment that improves yields and sustainability. In a world of limited resources, Mitchell and other thought leaders will usher in the future of agriculture, where automation and data analytics help produce successful harvests season after season.
Creating such a system for a farm is not without its challenges. There are many courses of action that a future farmer could take. An intranet could be built with a massive WLAN to keep data stored locally, but any cloud computing technology will require backhaul provided by a wireless Internet service provider. A Power over Ethernet system could be spread across the property, or a deployment of solar panels and/or wind turbines could supply electricity independently of the power grid. Should farmers hire an IT company specialized in agriculture for an implementation or build it themselves? What hardware manufacturers and wireless protocols will they use? There are too many variables for easy answers, and in all likelihood, each individual farm will require a unique solution.
But what if the burden of food production could be shifted from the fields to cities closer to where the consumer lives? Now with the technology of the Internet of Things, it is possible. Insulated from natural disasters like floods and droughts, an urban farm allows for granular control of resources. As water scarcity increases and traditional agriculture consumes around 80% of the country’s water supply, the use of automated resource management processes will avert a crisis. Traditional indoor farming uses hydroponic systems to supply plants with water and nutrients. However, these systems are cost prohibitive and not economically viable compared to rural agriculture. But there are innovations coming to market that could change urban farming methods, like Click & Grow’s Smart Herb Garden. It uses a new sponge-like soil material that efficiently delivers nutrients, water and oxygen to crops. The large-scale Smart Farm system, scheduled to begin large-scale retail distribution in 2016, enables resource management from a computer program. It is imperative that this type of technology achieve widespread adoption as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicts that global food production must increase by 70% by 2050 in order to feed the population.
There are many more new ideas on the horizon that will make it easier to become a do-it-yourself farmer. CoolFarm is another central management app that makes farming easy on your smartphone. Any city dweller can live and work while growing their own food, or possibly get into the farming business with a vertical farm. Those who have the space to do so can even help save the biodiversity of beekeeping products. The human race relies on industrial bees to pollinate a wide range of foods. It is unacceptable to allow colony collapse disorder to decimate the bee population to extinction, but a web-connected device could solve this problem. Eltopia’s MiteNot can sterilize male bees containing the microscopic varroa destroyer mite by detecting when the females have laid their eggs before the males have fertilized them, heating the hive enough to kill the parasites while keeping the bees safe, without the use of pesticides. Sensors within a MiteNot circuit board, camouflaged and embedded within the combs of a hive, calculate how to time this process through a cloud-based application. This device is still in the testing phase, but could be released in the fall of 2015.
If there is a particular purpose for five billion web-useful devices by the end of this year, and forty-five billion more by 2020, it’s hard to think of one more relevant than smart farming. Successful implementation that increases yields and reduces waste could make or break civilization. New trends in technology could lead to a revolution in agriculture, such as drones inspecting fields to manage pest control, or the upcoming 802.11ah wireless protocol that uses the 900 MHz band and is capable of managing 8,000 devices at a time. at a time within a radius of one kilometer. The goal of industrializing agriculture is to make it easier to produce large amounts of food at a reasonable cost, and as long as scientists and engineers work together with farmers to further that goal, everyone can look to the future with a full stomach. .