How technology and IoT in smart farming are changing agriculture
A Google search for the word “farm” yields millions of images. A herd of cattle grazing behind an enclosure. A team of workers fertilizing young plants. And, of course, a farmer driving a big tractor over a field. While idyllic, these portrayals of traditional farms are starting to feel increasingly outdated because farming has evolved. So what is a more accurate picture of today’s farm? The livestock enclosure is invisible, replaced by geofencing. Dozens of farmhands are replaced by one person remotely controlling a drone spraying fertilizer. And the tractor is empty because it is tilling the field autonomously while the farmer monitors its progress from another site.
Advanced technology, including IoT (Internet of Things) solutions, is changing the way farmers work and farms operate. IoT refers to the countless physical devices around the world that are connected to the internet and capable of collecting and sharing data. IoT-based smart farming improves the entire agriculture system by monitoring crops and livestock in real-time. With the help of sensors and interconnectivity, farmers can save time, money, and resources.
Some of the most common IoT technologies in agriculture involve sensors, drones, tractors, and other devices that perform operations and gather data. Here are some of the most commonly used technologies that are paving the way for ICT-enabled farming and empowering farmers to become more efficient and productive in their work.
Agricultural drones see what humans can’t
Drones, also known as UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), are growing in popularity due to their ability to enhance various agricultural practices and tasks. Drones make it possible to assess crop health assessment, monitor irrigation, and analyze soil—all without stepping foot in the field. They can be remotely controlled or they can fly automatically through saved flight plans, working in coordination with sensors and GPS. Drones equipped with sensors and cameras can quickly map and survey farms from a distance. This valuable data can help farmers draw insights regarding crop health, irrigation, yield prediction, and much more.
Autonomous tractors are doing the heavy lifting so farmers don’t have to
Covering as much earth as a drone but at the ground level is the autonomous tractor. TYM’s autonomous tractors like the TYM TX76 and TYM T130 are equipped with our patented Digital Automated Vehicular Experience (D.A.V.E.) technology to boost your efficiency and productivity. The quick start mode enables a quick start of the autonomous driving function by only using two waypoints as opposed to more in the normal autonomous driving mode. Storing work paths allows you to save on recurring work paths. Accurate straight-line driving creates precise, tighter row spacing that produces more crops. By adding telematics and autonomous functions to the power of a utility tractor TYM has introduced the next generation of smart tractors that will revolutionize the way you farm.
Remote sensors can detect everything from soil conditions to weather patterns
IoT-based remote sensors are a crucial part of the smart farming ecosystem. By utilizing sensors like weather stations, farmers can collect data that can be analyzed for quality or changes in light, humidity, and temperature. This data can even help determine weather patterns in different regions to help establish suitable crops for growing. With soil sensors that monitor the electrical conductivity, water content, and temperature of the soil, farmers can also optimize their resources. These sensors can determine the nutrient value or moisture in the soil, which makes it easy to adjust the amount of fertilizer or water needed for irrigation.
Livestock monitoring is easier with sensors and advanced cameras
Crops are not the only products reaping the benefits of smart farming. Farmers can utilize IoT devices to collect data regarding the location and health of their livestock. Sensors help farmers monitor their animals’ living environment, checking on factors such as temperature, humidity and ammonia levels. Tracking and geofencing with GPS sensors are common ways to herd livestock and prevent loss or theft, but sensors can also play an important role in preventing the spread of disease. Adding smart cameras to sensors makes it easier to monitor animal behavior. These images can be combined with other environmental data to observe how the distribution of the animals in a shed or pen raises any red flags within their environment.
Hydroponics make it possible to grow regardless of land or soil
Hydroponics, or the type of horticulture that can grow crops directly in nutrient-rich water, is a new word for an ancient practice that can be traced back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. While farming without soil has been around for millennia, growing crops with the help of water, technology, and a controlled environment is what defines today’s smart hydroponics. Indoor hydroponic crops can be grown anywhere at any time, regardless of climate, weather conditions, availability of cultivable land, or soil quality. Modern smart hydroponic systems can ensure optimal water conditions for farming with wireless sensors that measure environmental parameters such as temperature and the water’s pH level. The farmer can access this data to monitor important metrics like nutrient solution level and water supply.
Smart lights are making greenhouses even smarter and less costly
Unlike open-field cultivation, a smart greenhouse designed with the help of IoT monitors and controls the climate, eliminating the need for manual intervention. One big component of greenhouse operating costs is the electricity used for the lights, which can range from 10% to 30% of the cost of running a greenhouse. But the arrival of advanced internet-connected lighting systems can reduce the electricity bill, according to a study by University of Georgia researchers. The study showed that a predictive lighting control system can not only optimize lighting for plants, but predict sunlight and use the lights only when needed. With smarter, optimized lighting, farmers can save energy and reduce their greenhouse electrical costs by as much as 33%.
Technology is changing the future of farming and its farmers. TYM is here to lead the way.
The technology that powers smart farms is what will drive the fourth agricultural revolution and its players. Technology will continue to reduce the need for manual labor, which is an important piece of the puzzle for a declining workforce. Globally, the average age of a farmer is 60. While older farmers retire, younger people are looking for financially stable and rewarding jobs, and it is essential to show them that agriculture can provide these opportunities. ICT and digital transformation in agriculture demonstrate to the youth that a career in agriculture can be intriguing, rewarding, and profitable.
And just as precision agriculture makes it possible for farmers to save their resources, IoT in smart farming is revolutionizing the way we think about farming as an industry and a livelihood. Through advances in technology, a commitment to sustainability, and support for young farmers, TYM will continue to shape the landscape and the future of agriculture in Korea and beyond.