Agricultural technologies with data support include sensors, communications, data storage and aggregation, optimization equipment, big data and analytics, IT and mobile platforms. “Analytics and big data” were named as their priority among 46% of all surveyed executives. In second place in popularity is “product safety and traceability of products” (29%), and biological science (29%).
The task of information technology is to maximize automation of all stages of the production cycle to reduce losses, increase business productivity, and optimize resource management. Further automation represents a higher level of digital integration, which affects the most complex organizational changes in business, but the implementation can drastically affect the profit and competitiveness of products and the company as a whole.
Integration of received data with various intelligent IT applications that perform their processing in real time provides a revolutionary shift in decision making for the farmer, providing analytical results of multiple factors and justification for subsequent actions. At the same time, the more partners are connected to a single network and share data through the cloud, the more intelligent the information system becomes and the more useful information for the user it can provide.
By scientific calculations, the system can create recommendations for the processing and care of plants or instructions for automatic execution of robotic equipment. For example, a predictive analytical model helps to determine that a two degree rise in temperature contributes to the hatching of insects or an increase in humidity above the optimal boundary can lead to an outbreak.
Management of these factors creates a real value in modeling microclimatic conditions: in a greenhouse, you cannot allow the temperature to rise, and in the field, it is prudent to observe the site and release a chemical when parasites appear. For the first time in the history of agriculture, the farmer can control natural factors, design specific business processes, and, also, predict the result with mathematical precision.
When implementing IoT projects, an ecosystem of partners is formed—such a system of interaction between participants, in which the benefits from cooperation are greater than from competing. Using the common infrastructure and interface of the platform, participants can create new products and innovate, which they could never do individually, and which, through their cooperation, are made available to consumers. Also, within the framework of this interaction, each of the participants promotes a common solution. The result is achieved by all participants in the value chain. The mandatory participants in IoT projects are:
- Device vendors
- Communication operators
- IoT platform
- System integrators
- Application developers
The IoT platform is the central element of the IoT ecosystem and integrated IoT projects with a high degree of automation, a large number of participants, and connected devices. The IoT platform plays the role of an intermediary: devices and components of the solution can transmit data in a wide range of formats, using various communication protocols. The platform provides the joint work of all devices and system elements and makes possible the development of user applications and services. As a rule, developers support the fullest possible list of pre-installed sensors and devices, standards, protocols, and analytical tools to ensure the rapid integration of solutions.
Platforms come in different levels (communications management, device management, network management, platforms for work and application development). The most complex provides opportunities for third-party developers in business intelligence with built-in machine learning and artificial intelligence, visualization of results, augmented reality (when you can combine the object with a virtual instruction for maintenance and repair).
The worldwide market for precision agriculture – and the IoT in agriculture
In addition to the need to reduce operating costs and increase business profitability, global agriculture is under pressure to increase productivity. In a highly competitive environment, the development of projects based on the Internet of things is economically justified. According to Gartner, the total economic effect from the introduction of the Internet of things in all sectors of the economy on a global scale will be $1.9 trillion by 2020. The share of agriculture accounts for 4% or about $76 billion. Roland Berber estimates the market for smart farming at 3 billion euros in 2016 and 4.5 billion euros by 2020, with the United States accounting for more than 40% of the global market.
According to Goldman Sachs, the cumulative increase in crop productivity through the introduction of precision farming solutions can grow by 70% and bring $800 billion in additional products by 2050. The market for precision farming solutions to manufacturers and developers will bring $240 billion in 2050. These are solutions for precise planting, precise irrigation, precise fertilization, spraying, field monitoring, and analysis of small agricultural machinery data (including autonomous machinery).
Opportunities for modernization of the industry are enormous, under the requirement to increase productivity, agriculture is turning from a traditional industry into a high-tech industry that can create new markets for innovative solutions and developments that did not exist before to solve a large number of existing problems.
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