How the Internet of Things is changing agriculture


by Lukas Hegetschweiler

In the past few years, the Internet of Things has already started to fulfill its promise: large amounts of everyday objects have been turned into networked devices, providing all sorts of information and data that can be acted on. And, as a result of technological advancements, the number of options and possibilities keeps growing steadily. IoT has already upended and changed a lot of industries. Agriculture is one of those.

Agriculture Switzerland | Photo by sandro mattei on Unsplash

Agriculture Switzerland, Photo by Sandro Mattei on Unsplash

Farming is one of the oldest occupations: the first Agricultural Revolution took place way back in 10,000 BC, when humans transitioned from hunting and gathering to settled agriculture. The 20th century saw an increase in agricultural production in the developing world between the 1930s and 1960s. The Internet of Things might very well be the phenomenon that causes the next revolution. By equipping their farming tools, crops, soil or livestock with sensors, farmers will be able to make much better-informed decisions about how to distribute their resources.


Rugged low-cost low energy sensors

However, equipping acres of farmland with sensors can be a challenge, especially because cell coverage over remote farming areas is often spotty. Luckily, sensor technology is constantly being improved: sensors can easily transmit data over long distances and do not require much configuration. Moreover, modern sensors are rugged to withstand almost any weather condition. And, most importantly, they are low energy: each sensor can transmit at a different data rate and frequency to maximize battery life and overall network capacity. As a result, modern IoT sensors can run for years without requiring new batteries.


Connected cows

This opens up worlds of different use cases. For example, farmers might equip their cattle with biometric sensors, monitoring the vitals of each individual animal, but also their position and whether the animals have strayed from their designated positions. The sensor can be tagged on the cow’s ear, or ingested, and detect whether the animal is over- or underactive. It observes body temperature, and sometimes even runs on the cow’s body heat. And in the unfortunate case of an anomaly or abnormality, the farmer receives a notification, allowing him to go and check on the animal before it is too late. This helps create a healthier and more productive ranch.

Cow at Seealpsee | Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Cow at Seealpsee — Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz, @purzlbaum on Unsplash


Smart soil sensors

Another option is to bury sensors and have them monitor the soil moisture condition of crops. Modern sensors even scan for different types of soil, taking into account the different amounts of water these types can and should hold. When hooked up to the pipes, they can even irrigate the field autonomously. It guarantees healthy crops during every season and prevents farmers from not using enough water. Or too much; water is becoming more and more scarce in certain countries as a result of climate change.


Where the Akenza Core comes in handy

Our IoT system offers everything to make agriculture smarter. At Akenza, we've been actively testing sensors for smart agriculture in the past. We also worked together with the Bernese Farmer’s Association, using smart sensors to measure manure distribution, and are constantly experimenting with sensors in our office garden, measuring soil moisture and water levels in tanks.

If you have a question get in touch with us. We'll be happy to explain how you can use the Akenza Core for your specific application. Be it on a few acres of land high up in the mountains or down in the valley in your farm, no place is too far for us.