The technological advancements over the last decade in IoT and IoT networks such as low-powered wide area networks (LPWANs) have paved the way for development and innovation in traditional agricultural ways. Apart from agriculture, livestock management and tracking have also changed tremendously. Now exist technologies like RFID tags and sensors which can be attached to animals for real-time tracking and health monitoring. It ensures all the animals are safe and safely return to the farm at the end of the day.
IoT-based technologies are available that allow auto-management of agricultural farms with minimum human involvement. Connection of IoT-based agricultural systems can be set up with relevant technologies such as big data, cloud computing, and cloud analytics for better insights and decision-making that leads to enhanced agricultural and farming performance even in remote areas.
Networking technologies such as LoRaWAN and NB-IoT have also revolutionized agriculture with low-cost, long-range network connectivity that is widespread now, even in remote locations. Since most of the IoT devices and sensors are battery-operated, LPWAN technologies offer high battery life, and efficiency while keeping the operating costs at a minimum. Technologies like LoRaWAN are highly efficiency and provide long-range connectivity. The small amount of sensing data from the IoT devices and sensors is easily transmitted to receivers through LoRa. It connects low bandwidth, low bit rate, and battery-operated devices to the internet using gateways.
What is IoT in Agriculture?
IoT in agriculture refers to the use of Internet of Things devices and sensors and network connections to monitor agricultural land, agri produce, irrigation needs, harvesting, and ensuring efficient food storage and food safety with the help of advanced technologies like cloud computing, big data, and predictive analytics.
Devices like RFID tags, RFID sensor tags, BLE beacons, and network standards such as BLE, LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, etc. allow real-time monitoring of farm animals, their health, farmland, soil health, moisture, rain, irrigation needs, frost and other environmental conditions.
The concept of IoT is not new as the term was first independently coined by KEVIN ASHTON, the co-founder of MIT-AutoID Centre, in 1999. IoT refers to a set of technologies, sensors, network gateways, and devices that allow sensing and data sharing over the internet. At present, with over 15B IoT devices, IoT has now become the Internet of Everything, and the number of IoT devices is expected to grow to 30B by the end of 2030.
Role of IoT in Agriculture
IoT has been a great help in finding various complications in modern-age farming and the development of smart agricultural IoT solutions. The Internet of Things plays various roles in agriculture at various stages starting from soil condition monitoring to seed selection, seed storage, sowing, irrigation, harvesting, and food storage, to food safety and the food supply chain. IoT enables systematic monitoring of all aspects of agriculture and farming, providing high visibility and inspection data.
In agriculture, the crops’ productivity depends not only on monitoring the environmental conditions but there are many other factors such as field management, movement of an unwanted object, attacks of wild animals, soil and crop monitoring, and thefts, etc., which affect the crops’ productivity. IoT sensors and devices play a great role in ensuring complete monitoring of such situations.
So, by and large, integrating IoT technologies into farming practices allows farmers and livestock owners to achieve an enhanced level of productivity, optimized resource utilization, and improved overall efficiency.
Here’s what IoT technology offers in the agriculture and farming sector:
Precision Farming and IoT
IoT enables farmers to collect real-time data on soil moisture, temperature, and nutrient levels which can be used to make informed decisions about irrigation, fertilization, and pest control. This results in optimized resource utilization and increased crop yield while keeping agri costs at low.
Smart Greenhouse Settings with IoT
For farmers doing farming in a controlled environment such as Greenhouses, IoT sensors help monitor and control various parameters such as temperature, humidity, and light inside greenhouses. This way, this IoT-based automation ensures optimal growing conditions, resulting in higher quality and more consistent crop production.
Keeping constant vigil on crops is also a necessity as crop health is crucial to crop yield. IoT devices equipped with cameras and sensors can monitor crop health, detect diseases, identify nutrient deficiencies, and ensure early detection. Farmers can take proactive measures, preventing crop loss and minimizing the use of pesticides.
Irrigation is tricky. Many farmers invest heavily in irrigation and lack of natural rain often leads to drought-like situations resulting in heavy losses. IoT-based irrigation systems use sensors to measure soil moisture levels and weather conditions and this data enables automated, precise watering, reducing water wastage and ensuring plants receive the required amount of water. All of that while keeping the cost of irrigation low.
Farmers that have livestock at ranches are often faced with various difficulties related to livestock health, shelter, feed, etc.
The use of RFID tags and sensors is highly efficient in farming, allowing farm owners to tag and track farm animals; monitor their health and behavior, and cut losses by preventing theft and misadventures. IoT helps farmers monitor animal well-being, identify potential health issues, and improve breeding practices.
Livestock Tracking with IoT Technologies
RFID and RFID Sensors
As an IoT technology, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and sensors are used to track individual animals. RFID tags use radio frequency waves to transmit encoded information about the animal's health, vaccination history, and location to an RFID reader. RFID sensors can also monitor vital signs and detect anomalies, allowing for early intervention in case of illness or distress. It is a cost-effective technology and has proven to be very efficient in tracking and tracing livestock.
As an IoT network standard, Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LoRaWAN) technology provides long-range, low-power communication for IoT devices such as BLE beacons and other sensors. LoRaWAN-enabled devices can transmit real-time data from remote areas, enabling farmers to track livestock even in expansive grazing areas. Farmers can easily use RFID tags and LoRaWAN to ensure that all the animals are back at the end of the day.
BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)
BLE technology is used for short-range communication between IoT devices. Coupled with LPWAN, BLE enables livestock owners to track animals in confined areas such as barns or milking parlors without added infrastructure. BLE tags can also provide real-time data on animal behavior and well-being.
Cloud platforms store and process the vast amount of data collected by IoT devices allowing farmers to access and analyze data from multiple sources. Farmers can thus make data-driven, informed decisions for livestock management and farm operations.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the way forward in automation and remote sensing operations at farms. AI algorithms can analyze collected data and provide actionable insights to farmers. Various AI-powered systems can detect patterns, predict diseases, and offer personalized recommendations for livestock care, improving overall herd health and productivity.
Though AI analytics integration can be a costly investment at first, in the long run, it not only saves costs but results in profit as well.
To conclude, the integration of IoT technologies in agriculture and livestock tracking has immense potential to transform the industry. IoT enables resource allocation and farm management which is crucial for saving cost and ensuring high yield at low cost. IoT sensors accurately track soil health and environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and toxic gases in the environment. It ensures that farmers can make informed decisions at the correct moment. IoT sensors also monitor temperature and humidity in silos where food grains are stored safely sans any wastage. Thus, LoRaWAN, BLE, RFID, and RFID sensors, and cloud computing and AI are helping farmers and livestock owners with optimized resource utilization, improved productivity, and enhanced animal welfare.