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The top 5 IoT applications for agriculture

How agtech companies are harnessing IoT to build new revenue streams, reduce costs, and increase efficiency

Jeffrey Lee article author avatarJeffrey LeeApril 14, 2021
The top 5 IoT applications for agriculture

Agriculture and high-tech seem unrelated at first glance, but the farming industry is no stranger to innovation. Agtech companies worldwide are harnessing IoT technology to improve the efficiency and cost of day-to-day work for farmers. 

Farmers can’t be everywhere, but crop and livestock monitoring are crucial, especially when margins are historically narrow. A single insect infestation or rapidly spreading disease in the stockyard can wipe out yields for the entire season and beyond. 

Electronic monitoring is nothing new for today’s farmers — webcams and grain temperature cable systems have been commonplace for decades — but IoT farming is a giant leap forward. 

Bringing on agtech enhancements like IoT will increase the quantity and quality of deliverables. IoT lets farmers optimize human labor and increase efficiency. Common components of intelligent agriculture technology include tools like:

  • Sensors for soil, signs of disease and infestation, hydration, light conditions, and humidity and temperature management.
  • Software that synthesizes and organizes data collected by sensors.
  • Connectivity hardware that connects IoT devices from anywhere through WiFi and cellular coverage. Learn more about cellular vs. WiFi for IoT.
  • Geolocation services like GPS or satellite tracking.
  • Data analytics services help make sense of the immense amount of data IoT devices can collect.

New smart agriculture and IoT technology promise to transform many different agricultural processes. Below, we’ll look at how IoT is changing the agricultural landscape in five primary ways: 

Grain Monitoring

TeleSense’s Spears and SensorBalls

Monitoring grain storage takes a lot of time and resources. Even when using storage solutions with temperature cables, grain operators typically have to physically inspect each grain storage site to ensure everything is fine, which can take all day when they are spread out across a site. 

However, companies like TeleSense are adding IoT monitoring capabilities that trigger mobile alerts if the company’s TeleSense Spears and SensorBalls detect signs of spoilage. TeleSense can also upgrade existing monitoring systems, like temperature cables, with IoT functionality. 

IoT monitoring capabilities don’t only help in the short term. The system helps collect insightful data about a farmer’s grains’ history and tendencies. This information can prove invaluable when it’s time to make decisions about storage and selling. 

Wind Machine Monitoring

Altrac’s smart wind machine monitoring solution

Wind machines are often leveraged to protect crops against frost damage, but they frequently fail to start or run out of fuel, resulting in financial losses of $10,000 per acre. Because of this, farmers are often forced to drive and check each individual machine daily, costing valuable time and vehicle fuel. 

However, IoT technology is helping companies like Altrac bring wireless wind machine monitoring to farmers. With Particle’s Integrated IoT platform, Altrac is connecting wind machines to the cloud so farmers can monitor their equipment wirelessly and ensure that it is running properly 24/7. With this IoT solution, Altrac has been able to help farmers reduce fuel consumption by 15% and reduce labor savings by 40%. 

Livestock management

Connected sensors enable farmers to better track and monitor their livestock in real-time

These days, large-scale livestock producers use IoT platforms to track livestock in real-time, monitoring key behaviors like activity, health, and reproduction to improve herd wellness. 

Connected systems like this enable farmers to reduce labor costs and time spent tracking down a wandering herd or flock. Farmers can even receive alerts when animals show signs of sickness or when a pregnant animal’s water breaks. 

While there are many different types of monitoring solutions for livestock available, agtech companies have the opportunity to create an all-in-one livestock management system with IoT.

Crop Monitoring

Agtech companies are also harnessing IoT platforms to enable farmers to monitor crop health wirelessly. For instance, connected sensors can alert farmers to pest infestation and disease right away, allowing them to prevent widespread damage. Some systems even integrate weather data, allowing farmers to calculate risks in growing seasons. 

Companies can even harness IoT to enable better crop irrigation management. Connected sensors can monitor precipitation and humidity levels and automatically adjust irrigation schedules. The results are optimized crop yield conditions and reduced water and energy waste. 

Smart equipment management

Many farmers relocate essential assets (like tractors and sprayers), and it can be challenging to keep track of it all. That’s why many agtech companies are leveraging IoT platforms to enable farmers to monitor all their assets in a centralized system so they can focus on the job at hand. 

Companies can even leverage IoT technology to track more than the physical location of critical assets. For instance, our integrated tracking platform enables companies to build custom asset management solutions that track everything from location to temperature, motion, air quality, and more. These additional variables allow farmers to gain more insights into their equipment and be prepared to fix assets before they break with predictive maintenance.

How to build agtech products with Particle

The road to building a smart agriculture solution starts with implementing a reliable platform that provides all the technology needed to construct your IoT system. Some enterprises choose to build their own custom IoT systems from the ground up. This requires expertise in domain-specific engineering and infrastructural development and the resources necessary for IoT scalability, network connectivity, and security.

However, the second option is to build with a managed IoT platform like Particle that provides the hardware, software, and connectivity needed for deploying an IoT product. We transform our customers into market leaders by giving them the technology and the expertise to bring an IoT product to market. You can use Particle to:

  • Connect your machines, vehicles, equipment, and assets to the internet with Particle’s “edge-to-cloud” technology stack (hardware + connectivity + cloud).
  • Manage those devices with our Device Management Console; wirelessly reprogram them with EtherFlash, our over-the-air (OTA) software update service; monitor the performance and health of your fleet of devices with Fleet Health.
  • Extract data from your assets and deliver insights to the right systems and people.
  • Track the locations of vehicles, logistics, rental equipment, and other mobile assets in real-time.

Particle works with customers across various industries, including supply chain and logistics partners, industrial manufacturing, agriculture, micromobility, and local governments working toward “smart city” solutions. You can learn more about Particle can help you get started on your IoT journey here.

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