We have all heard the banging of drums declaring the Internet of Things to be the next great technological revolution. The IoT is expected to make production process more efficient, reduce waste and resource consumption, improve customer service, and provide a wide array of new products and services that will change the way we all live and work.
It is already impacting manufacturing, retail, utilities, and myriad other industries all looking to get a jump on the next big thing.
It may come as a surprise to some, but of all the many industries investing in and adopting IoT (Internet of Things) technology, the most prolific may in fact be the agriculture industry. Farmers have been very eager to adopt the IoT, and have already had a significant amount of success.
There are a number of reasons for this:
Ease of Deployment
Inexpensive sensors placed in various parts of a cultivated field can quickly yield very useful actionable data – whereas in an industrial environment adoption would require modifying or disrupting existing networks and software systems.
Pre-existing metrics of precision agriculture can be applied more easily, maximizing the already-known benefits of established practices (knowing what types of crops to plant when, knowing when and how much to water, etc.). Farmers have also had success safely and naturally controlling pests through the intelligent release of pheremones. Of course, there is the obvious and very tangible benefit of decreased resource consumption and increased yield.
In agricultural IoT deployments, the same practices that provide instant value will continue to provide value for as long as they are employed. Conservation of water and waste reduction provide repeated value, as well as the increased yield brought on by precision farming.
Early adopters have primarily been large commercial farms, but smaller farms are finding ways to leverage sensor data and remote monitoring to make incremental improvements to their yields as well. In fact, the IoT may eventually serve as a sort of equalizing factor that allows smaller food producers to compete with the larger commercial growers.
So, not only is the IoT revitalizing an essential industry, it has the potential to solve some very serious problems related to food shortages and ever-increasing populations. This, of course, is in addition to reducing the environmental impact of farming and bringing the family-owned farm back into the global marketplace.
That’s not bad for technology that many people think is confusing and consider to be a bunch of “hype”, is it?