Smart Farming - Where do I start?
Farm IoT (Internet of Things) is quickly becoming the future of the agricultural industry. The transition from a more traditional approach can seem daunting - especially for those who are less 'technologically advanced'. However, the products and services that are on the market can provide massive time and cost savings as well as improved efficiency.
What is Smart Farming?
Smart farming refers to farm management using modern information and communication technologies to increase the efficiency of capital, animals and the environment whilst optimising human labour.
These technologies usually are made up of these 6 components:
- Sensing technologies
- Software applications
- Communications systems (wifi, radio, cellular)
- Telematics, positioning technologies (GPS, satellite)
- Hardware and software systems
- Data analytics solutions
With a combination of these tools, farmers are able to monitor entire stations remotely and make strategic decisions to improve efficiency.
IoT is an extension of internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects. Connecting hardware and electronics together and having these devices communicate with others over the internet creates an ecosystem of interacting devices that are able to be remotely monitored and controlled.
What are some benefits?
IoT solutions can add value in many areas of the agricultural sector. It is expected to revolutionise the industry in the next few years with improvements in precision farming, automated irrigation, asset tracking, livestock monitoring and more.
It will also mean you will spend less time, money and resources checking every tank, fence and animal. Smart technologies will often alert the user if something is not operating as it should - reducing the risk of problems arising.
A pressing, and often controversial issue today is the environmental impact of agriculture. IoT technology provides a solution for accurate, cost-effective monitoring of nitrate levels, run-off, water quality and more to ensure farms are operating sustainably, within compliance boundaries.
The 3rd Green Revolution.
Following the plant breeding and genetics revolutions, data analytics is set to be the next revolution in agriculture. IoT technologies are already enabling more efficient farming and better use of the environment. Not only will the safety of farms improve, but so will the efficiency of water, optimisation of resources and better treatment of assets. Smart farming has a real potential to deliver more productive and sustainable agricultural practices and a more precise, resource efficient form of production.
Where do I start?
Like most new ventures, the key is to just start. Breaking up the transition into small, achievable chunks is a great way to do it. Pick an area of your farm that needs the most attention and start there. The transition may seam like a never-ending process as new technologies continue to be developed, however every step you take will be making your farm more productive and easier to manage.
One of the biggest issues that still exist today in farm IoT is connectivity. Selecting a product that fits your desired use and your property, but will also connect to existing networks can be difficult. A lot of sensors will require line of sight to the house or the installation of a communication tower. Other devices will work off the existing cellular or satellite networks. The first hurdle is ensuring that the devices you want will meet the needs of your property.
The next step is finding a suitable product that fits your need and budget. There are often different options to suit your individual need - more advanced solutions will usually come at a greater cost. This step requires a bit of research, comparing devices and their functionality.
For many farm owners and operators, the most important feature is whether or not the product will integrate with their existing farm management systems. It can be frustrating when each individual unit uses their own database or app. There are some existing dashboards that put everything in one place to make it easier to manage. It is best to check whether or not your selected device will work alongside your existing technologies.
The Waterwatch Solution
Waterwatch provides a range of smart, water level monitoring solutions for use in agriculture, infrastructure and environmental monitoring. In the smart farming space, Waterwatch sensors are used for monitoring dams, ponds, troughs, water tanks, IBCs, rivers, run-off compliance and more. We have three sensors; the LS1, LS1-P and T35, all expertly designed to fit specific purposes.
Waterwatch has a secure, cloud-based platform and mobile app that displays sensor data. This data has flexible export options and integrations with many leading farm management platforms in New Zealand and Australia. Some of these integrations include; Halo Farm Systems, Hilltop Software, Node, Farm IQ, PairTree and AxisTech. If you are interested in integrations with other providers, please contact us for more information.
Our sensors have the ability to set high, low and rapid change alarms to be sent via SMS, email or push notifications. Waterwatch stores historical data for seasonal insight and data analysis to learn more about how your property operates. View multiple sensors on one dashboard and invite staff to share access with.
For more information: