IoT4Ag: AI, IoT and Agriculture
Can robots be farmers too?
It sounds like something straight from the 23rd century: Robots are now farmers, and the power of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) are deployed to solve global food production and distribution issues - bringing the pervasive problem of world hunger to an end once and for all.
We’ve already posted on this Tech Blog about how IoT and AI can make our cities, homes, cars, pets and other aspects of our lives more productive, efficient, enjoyable and secure. Now, let’s take a closer look at what it can potentially do to revolutionize the world of agriculture.
Sometimes called “IoT4Ag” – shorthand for “Internet of Things for Agriculture” - this new area of technology development holds tremendous potential for improving our global food supply. Experts agree that some of the major benefits of applying IoT and AI to agriculture include:
- Clean, sustainable planting and harvesting techniques
- Economical use of natural resources and fertilizers
- Massively scalable farming practices
- Higher crop yields
Many companies, universities and NGOs are already stepping into this brave new world, testing and applying revolutionary devices and technologies that could forever change agriculture and livestock breeding. Some potential applications of IoT4Ag include:
- IoT-enabled Precision Farming: Precision farming brings smart weather, moisture and soil sensors together in a linked network. Imagine millions of tiny intelligent devices, each no more than the size of a grain of rice, communicating with each other as they continually monitor their surroundings and stream out data on chemistry, air or water pressure, vibration, temperature, light and more.
- Livestock Position Monitoring: Companies like "Moocall" and "Cattlewatch" have already developed and smart and unobtrusive monitoring devices to keep track of the location and environment of livestock on a wide scale and are marketing these to farmers keen to employ the latest technology.
- Autonomous Tractors: Major agricultural equipment manufacturers already have production-ready prototypes for smart, autonomous planting and harvesting and are in the process of introducing these to farmers around the world.
- Networked, Connected Farms: Even farms in the most remote, rural locations can share real time operating conditions and reports, enabling farms to one day be managed remotely and opening up farm land that was once considered impractical.
- Data-driven Crop Rotation: Detailed testing and monitoring of soil nutrients and weather patterns can inform farmers of the optimal crops for planting. This allows them to preserve and extend the life of topsoil and bring the most in-demand produce to market for higher ROI.
- Precision Planting: AI and smart algorithms can analyze massive amounts of data on weather, environment, historical information and even financial markets to make increasingly accurate predictions on what, where, when and how to plant crops for optimal performance and yields.
- Agricultural Drones: Inexpensive and energy-efficient airborne and land-based drones can monitor plant and livestock conditions to ensure their safety and survivability; unlike sheepdogs, they don’t need food or water and seldom need a day off.
Imagine how smart algorithms could be applied to these agricultural technologies of the future to enable them to learn and teach themselves, and you begin to see the value and potential that AI brings when combined with IoT4Ag. For further reading on this fascinating subject, we recommend the following links to get you started on the journey to learn more about IoT4Ag:
Thanks for reading today’s Tech Blog! Do you have any thoughts on the potential of technologies like AI and IoT when applied to agriculture? Feel free to drop us a line via social media or our Contact Us form and let us know – and what you might like to see in future posts!