Farmers have traditionally relied on their intuition and experience to carry out the various tasks in the field following a predefined schedule. Today the large amount of information, the precision and the immediacy of the data coming from the IoT connections allow us to be ahead of the future and make the best decisions at every moment, always based on accurate, real and updated data.
As we explained in our article, What is smart agriculture? How can we put it into practice in areas without mobile coverage?, Smart agriculture is the application of information and data technologies, based on IoT communication, to optimize complex agricultural systems that involve individual machines and all agricultural operations.
Currently, mobile networks only cover 20% of the planet. This indicates that 80% of the Earth does not have mobile coverage and therefore does not have access to the Internet. So how can we implement smart agriculture and IoT communication in these remote areas? Thanks to the rise of picosatellites, which offer IoT connectivity in remote areas, at a much lower cost and development times than the rest of the existing solutions.
But what real advantages can we obtain by implementing this IoT connectivity through picosatellites?
Today, it is vital to maximize profitability and return on resources. The new tools make it possible to collect, monitor and analyze data in real time that allow us to make better decisions every day to optimize our results. This is allowing to improve production by providing information on what type of crop is more profitable to plant or what exact amount of water and fertilizer a crop will need.
Furthermore, the level of forecasting and execution accuracy offered by IoT communication is also a factor affecting crop productivity. The higher the level of precision of the forecasts of behaviors, the greater the chances of getting the most out of a crop.
The correct distribution of irrigation has been a challenge to solve that required extensive technical knowledge and mastery of data on complex harvesting and irrigation systems.
With the advent of IoT technology and its combination with soil monitoring systems, farmers can measure moisture, detect leaks, and more efficiently manage water use in each application, all in real time. Or what is the same, efficiently manage the limited water supply with less waste of water resources.
Studies indicate that the widespread use of new tools and the IoT in agriculture could potentially conserve 200 billion liters of fresh water in the world per year.
Diseases, pests and the weather conditions themselves make agriculture a very high risk business. Every year there are cases of crops totally lost due to droughts, snowfalls or torrential rains.
By collecting data and using predictive analytics, farmers can anticipate the future by making timely decisions to at least reduce the impact of potential catastrophes.
In addition, sensors connected via satellite already enable farmers to better monitor and control the pest population. This is the case of some wireless sensor networks installed, in remote areas, that monitor the pest count and when they detect that the pest population is too high, they automatically activate a pheromone release system that alters the mating patterns of The pests.
Techniques like these are reducing to a minimum, and in some cases completely replacing, the use of pesticides, which greatly favors trends in the consumer market, which increasingly demands the consumption of natural foods and a more reduced use of these products.
Smart agriculture is also having its benefits at different levels in the area of health and food preservation such as storage, transportation, etc.
Currently, various sensors and monitoring tools are being used to monitor and control factors such as shipping time or storage temperature, which allow guaranteeing food safety and quality in all phases of the agricultural process.
Already from the production phase, IoT solutions are helping farmers to obtain accurate information on the health of crops, which could otherwise be difficult to track and analyze.
More than 40% of the total food produced worldwide is lost each year, and more than 20% of this is due to waste related to transportation and storage.
These losses can occur at various points in the agricultural supply chain, whether due to delays in transportation, improper storage, or during many other stages, from production to distribution. In fact, waste is possibly a bigger problem for the sector than low productivity, as it indicates a loss of all time and resources invested in the early stages of production.
Using the IoT and M2M communication to monitor and track the transportation of agricultural products through fleets, freighters and fishing boats offers effective solutions to this problem.
Smart agriculture, the agriculture of the future, is one that makes use of technological advances and IoT connectivity to, ultimately, improve production levels with the least possible use of land, water, fertilizers and labor, optimizing its activity and the resources available on earth.