THE Internet of Things (IoT) is a technological advancement that is gaining widespread awareness and acceptance in several fields due to its practical relevance to everyday life. An estimate shows that by 2025, the number of connected mobile IoT devices will surge to 30-40 billion globally. Basically, IoT describes physical objects with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communication networks. The field has evolved due to the convergence of multiple technologies, including ubiquitous computing, commodity sensors, increasingly powerful embedded systems as well as machine learning. In other words, IoT uses a network of devices that allows them to communicate and exchange data with other smart devices embedded with sensors and software to make them smart using the Internet. The connected devices transmit data over the Internet without needing human-to-computer interaction. Currently, IoT finds several important applications, such as health monitoring, hospitality & tourism, online shopping (retail IoT), self-driving cars & tractors, smart grid, smart homes, smart cities, smart factories, and smart agriculture.
The main working mechanism of IoT begins with the device itself such as smartphones, digital watches, and electronic appliances, which securely communicate with the IoT platform. The platforms collect and analyze the data from all devices and transfer it to sensors, security devices, smart wearable devices, and intelligent appliances for a successful operation to make appropriate adjustments
A UN report predicts a 24 percent increase in worldwide population to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 from the current 7.8 billion; this needs enhancement in global agricultural production to keep up with the demand. IoT can provide several smart solutions to address these challenges by transforming conventional agriculture into smart agriculture with its ability to optimize resources, reduce wastage and increase farm productivity.
The latest farming management approach is precision agriculture which enables farmers to make better decisions about where, when, and how much to fertilize, irrigate and spray pesticides using digital technologies. Sensors are used to collect data on weather conditions, soil moisture, crop health, and real-time location asset tracking (RTLAT) which help farmers make accurate decisions about crop management with optimal resource utilization. IoT can provide better crop monitoring systems by collecting all data needed, such as crop health, humidity, rainfall, temperature, and much more. The most appropriate time to sow crops and harvest them can be determined using sensors which also help in early problem detection. The exact time and quantity of water requirement by individual plants can be determined using sensors for better irrigation management, which can help farmers save water.
The presence of pest cluster areas in the fields can also be detected by sensors and accordingly pesticides can be applied as per requirement and field location for the timely protection of crops. The number of nutrients present in the soil can be detected by sensors which can guide the farmer to use fertilizers when required. Farmers can generate a fertilizer application-crop yield map to determine the areas needing attention. A correlation between the quantities of fertilizer used by each plot or farm throughout the season can be obtained to reduce costs and keep waste to a minimum. The software can analyze the long-term data for several seasons to predict and provide ready-made analysis to the farmers for accurate forecasts, hence avoiding or pre-empting crop failure due to any natural calamity.
Drones equipped with sensors and cameras are being used for imaging, mapping, and surveying farm fields to enhance productivity and ease operations. Ground-based drones survey the fields on wheels, while aerial ones can perform various operations using remotely controlled actions or automatic flying routes through software-controlled flight paths that work precisely in coordination with sensors and GPS. The data generated and analyzed by drones with backend support systems provide insights into crop health, irrigation, spraying, planting, soil and field, plant counting, yield prediction, and other customized actions of crop monitoring. Drones can be programmed for spraying, planting, and collecting data from crops for optimizing the crop management ecosystem. Efficient planning and execution using imaging and programming make this application of IoT vital for smart agriculture.
IoT-based remote sensing can help farmers monitor the crops from the analytical dashboard and take action based on insights from collected data, which can assist in preventing the spread of diseases and keeping an eye on the growth of crops. Soil health analysis can be easily done using IoT for detecting the nutrient value in different parts of the field, soil drainage capacity, or acidity. This data can be used to determine the exact water requirement at different pockets of the field for irrigation. Post-harvest, sorting, and grading of agricultural and food products can be done using computer imaging that can significantly increase accuracy and time efficiency based on their size, texture, color, and shape. Once the crop is harvested, IoT devices (sensors) can help in prolonging the crop storage period by monitoring and adjusting temperature and humidity levels.
The use of IoT in agriculture promises to induce several benefits for sustainable smart agriculture through precision farming, drones, image processing, big-data collection for decision-making, improved crop quality, risk reduction, process automation, remote monitoring and harvesting automation using robotics with increased productivity and efficiency.News Source: Tribune India