As the world population keeps growing, and the pressure on agriculture to produce more does not cease, climate change and biodiversity loss add the challenges farming faces today. Smart farming, also known as agriculture 4.0, heads these challenges with technology. Although applicable in virtually all forms of agriculture, the application in arable farming, poses particular challenges due to farm size, the more frequent use of vehicles, large amounts of data, and highly variable conditions.
The types of IoT applications in the arable sector, however challenging, are equally as broad. Running from monitoring, documenting, to traceability, all of which within a wide array of applications. The three main layers one can recognise in the IoT devices, are in device, network, and application. These three layers each play a role in the different purposes IoT has in the arable sector. Leaf colour can be monitored, crop development can be mapped, and forecasting can happen both on arable farming actions, such as irrigation scheduling, and in supply chain machine learning models.
Challenges in the application of IoT models and devices are recognised to lie in the broad interoperabilility necessary for succesful application. This challenge is most often translated in data heteroggeneity, and complexity. Questions around revenue and affordability also play their part, with costs possibly being a barrier to entry for small-scale farmers if technology providers do not clearly show the future value of the investment. Further challenges are recognised in this paper under the different layers, especially highlighting the power consumption (device layer), communication range and wireless connectivity (network layer), and data security and data challenges (application layer).
The concluding part of the paper, focuses on the most pertinent challenges the sector faces in light of the application of IoT in arable farming. The role of technology developers should be of overcoming these technological hurdles in the different layers, as well as making sure the techologies they develop create a real benefit for farmers, bot large- and small scale. Data is nother hurdle to overcome, both in its scope, and security. The near future view the paper imagines, recognises the need for farmers to be educated in these new technologies. The paper concludes with the realisation that IoT-based developments in the arable sector has the potential to completely change farming operations.
The complete article is a very interesting read, and goes deeper into the topics covered.
Villa-Henriksen, A., Edwards E.T.C., Personen, L.A., Green, O., Grøn Sørensen, C.A., 2019 Internet of Things in Arable Farming: Implementation, Applications, Challenges and Potential, Biosystems Engineering 191 (2020) 60-84
Please find it in the Biosystems Engineering Journal