The “Internet of Things” could revolutionize the agricultural sector


Internet of Things (IoT) generally means “All objects that are connected to the Internet are enabled to independently share and process data via their sensors and communication devices”. It is estimated that by 2023 the world will have 7 billion connected people, more than 30 million applications and embedded systems, more than 60 trillion GB of data and around 8 trillion revenue opportunities. The IoT market value is expected to reach $11 trillion, with security spending reaching $3.5 billion soon.

The story of IoT evolution began with an archaic mode of human-thing interaction (people and things), followed by machine-machine interaction (things and things), resulting in the interaction of humans powered by the proverbial Internet ( people and people) began. leading to the interconnection of multiple things on the web (web of things) and eventually on the internet of mankind.

The IoT in agriculture basically includes the network where physical components in the industry are to be connected to the internet, which can be the farms with trees, plants and animals, the tools and various items in the industry. This allows information to be shared, monitored and tracked, helping people to more productively manage the complex agricultural sector under specific protocols. For example, most developed countries such as Germany, Japan and the USA have already made advances in sensor technology and manufacturing processes. The net benefit of IoT application is the increase in agriculture

Production, improved quality of agricultural products, reduced labor costs combined with higher agricultural incomes for farmers.

Smart farm machinery or IoT includes cluster IoT, remote IoT and internal IoT. While cluster IoT focuses on communication and control between agricultural machines operating in the same area, remote IoT takes place between the operational site and distant terminals and servers. The communication between sensors, actuators and the central unit in agricultural machinery is referred to as Internal IoT.

IoT finds immense application in the agricultural sector, where the sustainable future of food is seen as a goal by almost all developing countries. The world population is expected to grow by 30% to 10 billion by 2050, and this will require a 1.5-fold increase in agricultural productivity. The global climate stability target includes, among other things, a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 67%, which requires addressing problems with the current system. In developing countries, there are a variety of problems in the agricultural sector, such as B. Lack of system for crop selection, faulty irrigation system, no integration with weather forecasts, no procedure for soil testing, inefficient animal husbandry, etc.

In view of this, monitoring of climate conditions and efficient decision-making should definitely be part of the sustainable agricultural strategy. Precision in agricultural decision-making with the help of data, that is, tons of data collected by smart farming sensors help agronomists to develop appropriate strategies to meet the challenges. This can lead to better control over internal processes and therefore reduced production risks. Application of IoT can also contribute to greenhouse automation, where weather stations automatically adjust conditions to given parameters, and intelligent sprinkler control allows for remote management of irrigation and lighting systems.

Faced with water scarcity, which has a significant impact on agricultural production, the application of IoT enables the selection of appropriate irrigation methods worldwide instead of the traditional flood irrigation method, thereby largely solving the problem of water scarcity. IoT also has applications in cattle monitoring and management, where IoT devices are attached to the animals on a farm to monitor their health and log their performance. The collar tags attached to the species (consisting of wireless connection, actuators, sensors and terminals) help to provide insights into the temperature, health, activity and nutrition of each individual cow, as well as collective information about the herd. This allows farmers to analyze the nutritional and physiological condition of the animals and ensure their healthy growth.

Crop management is another key area where IoT finds application, particularly in the collection of data specific to crop production; Temperature and precipitation to leaf water potential and overall plant health. Among other things, this can help to monitor plant growth and abnormalities to effectively prevent diseases or infestations that may affect the proposed yield. Soil testing is another area of ​​application where efficient planning can help to strategically coordinate the harvest cycle and irrigation, which can lead to increased efficiencies in the areas of energy use and the fertilization cycle.

Quality, safety and traceability of agricultural products are other advantages of the IoT, where storage, logistics and distribution of agricultural products come into play. Through high-speed Internet connection in connection with the use of electronic data interchange, electronic labels and barcodes; Agricultural inputs and outputs could be lawfully traced, used and stored, reducing waste and increasing the efficiency of the system.

Advanced research on the IoT system structure is still underway, which can reduce the timeliness of data transmission through the IoT due to problems such as data transmission instability coupled with difficulties in data exchange, poor position accuracy, etc. Data speed is another requirement for IoT-enabled systems, which is actually lacking in almost all developing countries where farming activity is mostly located in remote rural areas. The required investments for 5G and related technologies, a key factor for the agricultural IoT, are also very high and it is indeed a challenge to enable this in rural areas.

These few challenges aside, end-to-end farm management systems should definitely be part of the IoT strategy in the upcoming technology age. A powerful dashboard with analytics and built-in accounting/reporting capabilities allows farmers to improve efficiency through continuous monitoring, efficient coordination and automated low-level decision-making. Therefore, the time has come to focus on enabling increased investment in the agricultural sector, through government-led public-private partnerships investing in key areas to deliver the desired long-term benefits to the economy.

Surjith Karthikeyan is Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Finance. The views expressed are personal.


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