With the exponential growth of world population, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the world will need to produce 70% more food in 2050, shrinking agricultural lands, and depletion of finite natural resources, the need to enhance farm yield has become critical. Limited availability of natural resources such as fresh water and arable land along with slowing yield trends in several staple crops, have further aggravated the problem. Another impeding concern over the farming industry is the shifting structure of agricultural workforce. Moreover, agricultural labor in most of the countries has declined. As a result of the declining agricultural workforce, adoption of internet connectivity solutions in farming practices has been triggered, to reduce the need for manual labor.

IoT solutions are focused on helping farmers close the supply demand gap, by ensuring high yields, profitability, and protection of the environment. The approach of using IoT technology to ensure optimum application of resources to achieve high crop yields and reduce operational costs is called precision agriculture. IoT in agriculture technologies comprise specialized equipment, wireless connectivity, software and IT services.

BI Intelligence survey expects that the adoption of IoT devices in the agriculture industry will reach 75 million in 2020, growing 20% annually. At the same time, the global smart agriculture market size is expected to triple by 2025, reaching $15.3 billion (compared to being slightly over $5 billion back in 2016).

Smart farming based on IoT technologies enables growers and farmers to reduce waste and enhance productivity ranging from the quantity of fertilizer utilized to the number of journeys the farm vehicles have made, and enabling efficient utilization of resources such as water, electricity, etc. IoT smart farming solutions is a system that is built for monitoring the crop field with the help of sensors (light, humidity, temperature, soil moisture, crop health, etc.) and automating the irrigation system. The farmers can monitor the field conditions from anywhere. They can also select between manual and automated options for taking necessary actions based on this data. For example, if the soil moisture level decreases, the farmer can deploy sensors to start the irrigation. Smart farming is highly efficient when compared with the conventional approach.

IoT have the potential to transform agriculture in many aspects and these are the main ones.

Data collected by smart agriculture sensors, in this approach of farm management, a key component are sensors, control systems, robotics, autonomous vehicles, automated hardware, variable rate technology, motion detectors, button camera, and wearable devices. This data can be used to track the state of the business in general as well as staff performance, equipment efficiency. The ability to foresee the output of production allows to plan for better product distribution.

Agricultural Drones Ground-based and aerial-based drones are being used in agriculture in order to enhance various agricultural practices: crop health assessment, irrigation, crop monitoring, crop spraying, planting, and soil and field analysis.

Livestock tracking and geofencing Farm owners can utilize wireless IoT applications to collect data regarding the location, well-being, and health of their cattle. This information helps to prevent the spread of disease and also lowers labor costs.

Smart Greenhouses A smart greenhouse designed with the help of IoT intelligently monitors as well as controls the climate, eliminating the need for manual intervention.

Predictive analytics for smart farming Crop predication plays a key role, it helps the farmer to decide future plan regarding the production of the crop, its storage, marketing techniques and risk management. To predict production rate of the crop artificial network use information collected by sensors from the farm. This information includes parameters such as soil, temperature, pressure, rainfall, and humidity. The farmers can get an accurate soil data either by the dashboard or a customized mobile application.

Farmers have started to realize that the IoT is a driving force for increasing agricultural production in a cost-effective way.

Because the market is still developing, there is still ample opportunity for businesses willing to join in.

Pedro Mier

Pedro Mier holds a degree in Telecommunications Engineer ing from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, MBA from ESADE and PADE from IESE. He is currently President of AMETIC (Association of Electronics, Information Technology and Telecommunications Companies of Spain), Shareholder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of TRYO Aerospace & Electronics, Board Member of the Premo Group and Committee of CTTC. member of Space Angels Network and Member of the Sc ientific Advisory