We have many innovative technologies coming together on the farm, and the hope is, we can use these things to gain the inputs to make our crops better at lower cost. For example, we have weather stations that tell us not just the temperature and wind conditions, but the daily solar load and how much transpiration occurred. We have sensors that monitor the moisture in the soil or even inside our plants, and tell us if we need to irrigate. We have devices that can monitor our wells and irrigation systems, check for flow and leaks and other problems.
We have, in all these things, our farm’s internet of things – all these smart devices that tell us what’s going on around us. The problem is, we have this vast internet, but the devices don’t talk amongst themselves. These devices are operating independently with no knowledge of each other’s existence. All this data could be simplified and a person could achieve so much more if our internet of things had a standard method of communicating.
Here’s a great example of an internet of things: Your new pickup truck. In normal driving, the engine works at peak efficiency for fuel conservation – throw a load on the back, and it is working for power. Get on a slick road and the 4 wheel drive engages, sending power to the wheels that have traction, brakes on the wheels that are skidding. The computer monitors your driving habits and adjusts accordingly – all these components are working together and communicating to provide a safe and efficient trip.
In an internet of things for farming, your weather station would work with your plant and soil sensors to tell not only what current conditions are, but what they are likely to be tomorrow. It should know what the ideal conditions are, and what to do to achieve them. The same internet of things would be in touch with your pumps and valves, making sure they are in working condition and if not, telling you what needs to be fixed or replaced.
It’s the next big step in Agriculture Technology.
I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.