What are Smart Farms and How Can Symmetry Electronics Help with Texting Cows
IoT is changing how many industries measure not only success, but also how they measure their day to day operations. A major industry affected by IoT, which isn’t normally mentioned, is agriculture. IoT sensors are dramatically changing how farms are run. There are now survey drones, smart tractors, agribots and texting cows. Yes, texting cows. Let’s look at how each one of these applications is changing the modern farm.
Drones are being used to help farmers increase yields while reducing environmental impact. It’s predicted that by the year 2050, food production will need to increase by 70% to meet global demands [i]. Farm drones can collect information such as field geography and soil composition. This data helps farmers choose the best field orientation and seed planting patterns. This could potentially result in increased yields of 2% to 5%.
Fleet of Agribots
Agribots, or Agbots, can operate 24/7, 365 days a year in any weather and require only maintenance costs. Their small size and light weight means they minimize soil erosion. Agbot seeding and weeding functionality can help farmers increase yields. Using 3D vision the harvesting Agbots can identify and collect the most valuable parts of the plant.
Using the same motion sensors found in any human biometric wearables, collars on livestock can pick up subtle changes in movements and behavior. The technology can save farmers dozens of man-hours a week that would otherwise be spent closely monitoring each cow. Wearables can save money on veterinarian bills by texting farmers of a cow’s illnesses before it is serious. Additionally, with the aid of a wearables, how much time a cow spends eating and chewing can be monitored. When the recorded time drops below average, it could signify the presence of any one of several common illnesses which lower milk production and in some cases, if left unchecked, could lead to death of an animal.
Using GPS, a tractor's steering controls can be connected to a programmed route, which keeps the machine on course, saving fuel and equipment hours. This is especially helpful to humans tilling soil who often end up covering the same area twice.
So how can farmers take all this data generated from IoT devices and turn it into something useful? Data from smart farms is providing predictive insights in agriculture operations, driving real-time operational decisions, and helping to redesign the agriculture business. Opportunities for smart farm applications include benchmarking, sensor deployment and analytics, predictive modelling, and using better models to manage crop failure risk and to boost feed efficiency in livestock production.
Sowing the seeds of “The Internet of Farming”
All this technology is great but it comes with a high cost. Farmers must operate within narrow margins and they typically don’t have the capital to invest in new technology. There are also proprietary concerns with who owns the data collected from these farms. Do the farmers get to keep the data or can the manufacturers lay claim as well? Farm data collected from a sensor could be stored on a server far away and exported from a 3rd party software. Each party in the equation has a stake in this valuable data. Farm data is a key part of any farmer’s livelihood.
Technology and farming go together like butter on toast. However, the costs to implement these technologies must decrease and concerns over proprietary farm data will need to be agreed upon before smart farms become the new standard.
To learn more about Smart Farms and see which IoT components Symmetry Electronics distributes download this Smart Farms Technology Teardown.
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