What is smart agriculture? How to put it into practice in areas without mobile coverage?


September 4, 2023

Also known as Agriculture 4.0, smart agriculture is the application of information and data technologies to optimize complex agricultural systems involving individual machines and all agricultural operations.

Smart agriculture incorporates information and communication technologies into machinery, equipment and sensors used in agricultural production systems. Technologies such as IoT and cloud computing are advancing this development even further by introducing more robots and artificial intelligence to agriculture.

For example, farmers can have real-time data on the condition of their assets through IoT connectivity, and thus know, for example, the status of:

  • Plants
  • Ground
  • Weather
  • Asset location
  • Assets status

Smart farming practices allow the generation of a large volume of data and information. Farmers can use this information to make data-driven decisions and take the most appropriate action at the best time to improve productivity and profitability.

How does smart farming work?

The use of smart agricultural tools is possible thanks to the use of sensors connected to a network.

What is a sensor?

A sensor is an electrotechnical device that is located in the zone or asset that we want to parameterize. These sensors:

  • They measure physical quantities from the environment.
  • They convert these measurements into data signals.
  • The signal is read and interpreted by an instrument.

Some of the measurements read by the sensor can be:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Light
  • Pressure
  • Noise
  • Speed
  • Direction
  • Size and weight

But how to implement smart agriculture in remote areas, where mobile connectivity does not serve?

IoT Connectivity through satellites

The aerospace sector is undergoing a change in its structure and its players. In recent years, start-ups have emerged that develop new technologies to access space in a faster and cheaper way than decades ago. Today, there are satellite platforms of highly reduced sizes (microsatellites, nanosatellites, picosatellites) that allow us to have information on these remote areas, previously mentioned, without having to assume large investments.

How? The sensors, distributed by the study assets, collect, encrypt and extract the really valid information from the parameters analyzed using predictive algorithms.

These sensors send the encrypted data to the satellite platform. Subsequently, these secure and informative data are sent by the picosatellite to a ground station, where they are collected and sent to our cloud service, where all this data is collected and stored and, through an online dashboard or through integration with API, all the information that the farmer needs about the status of his crop is displayed.

Why do we need smart agriculture?

«Smarter» farming is no longer an «advanced» tactic for smart farmers; it is becoming an increasingly necessary way to optimize and preserve human and natural resources.

  • Agricultural labor is increasingly scarce due to urban migration and an aging population.
  • The intensification of climate change is altering growing conditions in less predictable ways.
  • Earth’s resources and biodiversity are declining.

Smart farming tools can help reduce these impacts, minimize environmental constraints, and lower production costs in agricultural activities. Smart farming tools introduce a new level of technology to agriculture, including mapping, robotics, geomatics, automation, decision-making, and statistical processes.

That is why we should try to adopt this type of process in our productive activities, not only to improve our productivity and profitability, but also for social awareness and to preserve the resources of our planet.