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IoT Powering the Growth in Smart Farming

Phil Beecher, CEO and President of Wi-SUN Alliance  

According to industry figures, the global agricultural market is growing at a CAGR of 9.4%, from $12,245.63bn in 2022 to $13,398.79bn in 2023. While geopolitical tensions, supply chain issues and rising commodity prices continue to disrupt a sector that faces many challenges, it’s still expected to grow to $19,007.8bn by 2027.

Wastewater and effluent flowing into waterways, deforestation and land degradation are a reminder of the many other challenges the farming sector has to cope with. Together with the pressure to produce food at low prices, which means bigger livestock numbers and more fertilisers and pesticides to increase crop yields.

But there is huge potential for technology to provide solutions to these challenges, with intelligent automation and controls helping to balance the need for productivity and sustainability.

Farming has a huge range of potential applications for IoT, and this goes beyond basic monitoring and data collection, and sending regular updates to farmers.

IoT is already helping with crop management, where IoT sensors are placed in fields to monitor moisture and nutrient levels in the soil.

But one of the most promising areas is vertical farming in cities, where sensors can communicate wirelessly to send data about growing conditions, with key information on light, water levels, nutrients, etc., in high-density warehouse-like environments.

Another interesting use case is marine agriculture. Wi-SUN devices are already being used in seaweed farms where low energy battery-operated devices attached to buoys floating in a seaweed farm in Okinawa measure water temperature and salinity.

More devices are located in an onshore facility, transferring data to the cloud for remote access and analysis.

IoT technology is also helping to configure optimal environmental conditions in fruit and vegetable greenhouses, with Wi-SUN FAN being used in Japan for vegetable and mango production.

In tough, often remote environments like seaweed farms, fields and livestock farms, the difference between success and failure is critical, and with the challenges of extreme weathers, environmental damage, and population growth, we need to adapt and tap into new technologies than can make a real difference.

More information on Wi-SUN FAN supporting smart farming use cases: https://wi-sun.org/blog/smart-farming-wi-sun-fan/