The “Internet of Things” could revolutionize the agricultural sector

The Internet of Things (IoT) broadly means “All web-connected objects will be able to share and process data independently through their sensors and communication devices”. It is estimated that by 2023 there could be 7 billion connected people worldwide, over 30 million applications and embedded systems, over 60 trillion GB of data and around 8 trillion opportunities of income. The market value of IoT is expected to reach $11 trillion, with security spending reaching $3.5 billion shortly.

The history of IoT evolution started with an archaic mode of interaction between man and thing (people and things), followed by the interaction of machine and machine (things and things), leading to the interaction of people through the proverbial internet (people and people), which resulted in the connection of many things on the net (web of things) and finally the internet of l ‘humanity.

IoT in agriculture basically involves the network in which the physical components of the sector have to be connected to the internet, which can be the farms comprising of trees, plants and animals, the tools and various objects of the sector. This enables the exchange of information, surveillance and monitoring, helping humans to manage a complex agricultural sector more productively according to certain protocols. For example, most developed countries such as Germany, Japan, and the United States have already advanced in sensor technology and manufacturing processes. The net benefit of the IoT application is the increase in agriculture

production, improving the quality of agricultural products, reducing labor costs and increasing farmers’ agricultural income.

Smart or IoT agricultural machinery integrates cluster IoT, remote IoT and internal IoT. While clustered IoT focuses on communication and control between agricultural machinery operating in the same area, remote IoT is between the operating site and remote terminals and servers. The communication between sensors, actuators and central processing unit in agricultural machinery is called internal IoT.

The IoT is finding immense application in the agricultural sector, where the sustainable future of food is seen as the target by almost all developing economies. By 2050, the world population is expected to increase by 30% to 10 billion, requiring a 1.5 times increase in agricultural productivity. The global objective of climate stability implies, among other things, a reduction of at least 67% of greenhouse gas emissions, which requires addressing the problems of the current system. In developing countries, there are a multiplicity of problems in the agricultural sector, such as lack of crop breeding system, faulty irrigation system, lack of integration with weather forecast, lack of of soil analysis processes, inefficient animal husbandry, etc.

In view of the above, monitoring of climatic conditions and effective decision-making must necessarily be part of the sustainable agricultural strategy. Accuracy in agricultural decision-making using data, i.e. tons of data collected by smart agricultural sensors, helps agronomists design appropriate strategies to meet challenges. This can result in better control of internal processes and, therefore, reduced production risks. The IoT application can also contribute to the automation of greenhouses where the weather stations automatically adjust the conditions to match the given parameters and the smart irrigation controller allows remote management of irrigation and lighting systems. .

Globally, considering the scarcity of water having a significant impact on agricultural production, the application of IoT helps to choose appropriate irrigation methods instead of the traditional method of water irrigation. flooding, largely solving the problem of water shortage. IoT is also finding application in livestock monitoring and management, where IoT devices are attached to animals on a farm to monitor their health and record their performance. Species-attached collar tags (comprising a wireless link, actuators, sensors, and terminal equipment) help provide information about each cow’s temperature, health, activity, and nutrition as well as collective herd information. This allows farmers to analyze the nutritional and physiological status of animals and ensure their healthy growth.

Crop management is another key area, where the IoT finds application, particularly in the collection of agriculture-specific data; temperature and precipitation to leaf water potential and overall crop health. This can help, among other things, to monitor crop growth and any abnormalities in order to effectively prevent any disease or infestation that may affect the proposed yield. Soil testing is another application area where effective planning can help strategically coordinate the crop cycle and irrigation, which can lead to improved efficiencies in the areas of water consumption. energy and the fertilizer cycle.

The quality, safety and traceability of agricultural products is another benefit of IoT in which the warehousing, logistics and distribution of agricultural products come into play. Through high-speed Internet connectivity combined with the application of electronic data interchange, electronic labels and barcodes; agricultural inputs and outputs could be traced, used and stored in a legitimate way, reducing wastage, which would result in increased system efficiency.

Advanced research in the field of IoT system structure is still being carried out, which may lead to a reduction in the speed of IoT data transmission due to problems such as associated data transmission instability. data sharing difficulties, poor positioning accuracy, etc. Data speed is another requirement for IoT enabled systems that is indeed lacking in almost all developing economies where agricultural activity occurs mostly in remote rural areas. The investment required for 5G and related technologies, a key enabler for agricultural IoT, is also very high and facilitating the same in rural areas is indeed a challenge.

Apart from these few challenges, end-to-end farm management systems should necessarily be part of the IoT strategy in the coming technological era. A powerful dashboard with built-in analytical capabilities and accounting/reporting functionality, enables farmers to improve their efficiency through continuous monitoring, effective coordination and low-level automated decision-making. Thus, it is time to focus on facilitating increased investment in the agricultural sector, through a government-led public-private partnership investing in key areas to reap the desired long-term benefits for the economy.

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

Lana T. Arthur