Connected Agriculture Continues to Rise

The industrial internet of things can deliver real benefits in farm fields, just as it can on factory floors.

By Max Burkhalter
May 13, 2020
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The industrial internet of things is commonly associated with heavy machinery in factories, but there are other places where connectivity can improve performance. For instance, farming is an industry ripe for digital transformation. The same concepts that make the IIoT so valuable in factories, such as the productivity benefits of having real-time data access, apply to planting and harvesting crops. Agricultural organizations that stay on the cutting edge of technology deployment have a chance to rise to the top of their sector.

There are cost benefits to adding automation to multiple agricultural systems. When personnel don't have to check the status of equipment manually, they are able to more quickly and effectively deal with irregularities and track performance metrics that will keep productivity high. Reducing wasted time and effort is directly beneficial to the bottom line, and to farms' profit margins. Organizations that haven't yet embraced the IIoT should therefore consider how they could improve their operations.

The State of Agricultural Automation

According to Meticulous Research's latest report on the IoT in agriculture, farms have a major financial incentive to update their approach. Governments around the world are committing money to get their agricultural sectors up to modern standards, as the increased production efficiency can benefit the individual farmers and boost national numbers as a whole. The researchers cited the European Commission's report on farm connectivity as a sign that technology is now a priority among the continent's farmers and government bodies.

As a specific example of connectivity in the farming space, Meticulous Research noted Greece's governmental project to increase technology usage. With an eventual goal of data standardization and analysis, the program aims to provide centralized help to the country's agricultural sector. Data collection through the IoT is a vital part of making this assistance possible.

The exact uses of IoT in farming vary, according to the researchers. Some organizations are monitoring the conditions on farm land with connected solutions - this could mean taking real-time weather readings, analyzing the soil and more applications. Production of crops isn't the only area of farming where more data can help: Dairy and cattle farmers can also benefit from more accurate monitoring of their animals.

The Farms of Tomorrow

While great progress has already been made in adding IT features to agriculture, this is still very much a transformation in progress. GreenBiz reported that robotic, electric vehicles are on the verge of becoming a major feature of farms worldwide. Robotic technology has already been deployed in nations where the farming population is aging, with replacement labor difficult to hire among the rising generations. Agricultural companies with a heavy investment in robotics can potentially increase their productivity without increasing their staffing levels - an important consideration when recruiting becomes difficult.

The interest in robotic technology will allow the IIoT in agriculture to more closely mirror its role in other sectors such as manufacturing. Of course, one factor is constant throughout all IIoT deployments: There is a need for reliable data transmission. The equipment must be able to send and receive signals with no difficulty and become a part of a networked environment. Agricultural IT departments must put thought into their networking equipment as well as the flashy heavy machinery in the fields.

Perle can provide dependable networking components such as serial device servers to help IIoT organizations connect their assets. Find out how we've helped industrial clients such as agricultural organizations.


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