The Connected Farm
- Julie Bushell
For many years, the phrase “Connected Farm” was just noise-shaped air. People who didn’t have hands-on experience frequently discussed the benefits technology would immediately bring to farming. An expensive price tag made this prohibitive to most.
Breakthrough technology like a network of soil moisture sensors became possible. However, they were too large unreliable, and costly to place them in your farm. Like all other technologies before them – as time went on and production increased, the cost per unit decreased.
We now live in a period where farms can afford to take advantage of new sciences like LoRaWAN® sensors. But what does a “Connected Farm” actually mean? A Connected Farm means something different for every farmer but by and large, it’s one that leverages technology to decrease their input costs and increase their bottom line. They use real-time data to make informed decisions on a granular level.
For some farmers, connectivity means turning their focus to traceability and transparency. Ranchers can use wireless technology to track their cattle from the farm to the table. A customer could theoretically have instant insight into their food in a way that isn’t udderly costly. These issues instill consumer confidence, and may even offer a bigger slice of the pie for producers, as well.
The benefits only multiply when we begin to consider what connectivity can do for agriculture. For example, we know that soil across a farm varies, it’s not necessarily homogeneous. Some areas of your farm may hold more moisture than others. Another section might need fewer pesticides or fertilizers than in a different area.
LoRaWAN® and IoT sensors can offer instantaneous insights into soil moisture throughout the crops. They can pinpoint extra dry areas to spur crop growth. They can highlight waterlogged areas to prevent excess fertilizer runoff. This knowledge allows farmers to act. They can manage their irrigation systems more intelligently.
In today’s age, farmers are often wrongly the target of environmental outrage. The reality (of course) is that care for animals and an in-depth appreciation for land starts with farmers, not those who live in a skyscraper. In our mission to feed the world, we must also educate the world, and agricultural companies are doing just that by leading global sustainability efforts.
We have an opportunity to use technological innovation to decrease water consumption by substantial proportions. We no longer need to uniformly apply pesticides to sections of our farm that don’t need it. Farms that capitalize on this will receive increases in their market share and in certain situations, they’ll also be eligible for government subsidies.
Again, a ‘Connected Farm’ means something different for every farmer. The bottom line is that in this technological revolution, you have to be prepared to evolve and adapt. AgWireless presents an opportunity to transform agriculture – in the same vein that the computer revolutionized the business world. We offer the ability to bridge the digital divide between our rural and urban economies.