IoT will change the face of farming forever

The population of the world will be a tight squeeze of 9.6 billion by 2050 (according to Beecham research), and having enough resources to feed everyone has become more critical than ever.
Fortunately, the Internet of Things is providing a number of surprising and innovative solutions that are bringing age old farming techniques bang up to date and are making the industry more efficient and productive than ever before.

Dairy Farming in Essex

Dairy farmers in Essex are benefitting from increased revenue and productivity thanks to “The Cow Tracking Project”. By using radio positioning tags that store data in the cloud, farmers are now able to remotely track herds and monitor cow behaviour and health.

“The Cow Tracking Project” means farmers can quickly identify cows which have strayed from the herd to investigate if they are in ill health or lame. The technology can also detect up to 8 different diseases, and farmers are instantly notified if a cow requires their attention. The result? Happier, healthier cows, and less stressed farmers, which results in increased milk production.

This IoT technology has also helped to improve cow pregnancy rates. Sensors which detect whether a cow is in heat have accounted for a pregnancy rate which has risen from 40% to 67%. In addition, farmers are using the technology to influence which gender each calf is likely to be. By knowing exactly when each cow is in heat, farmers are able to slightly adjust the mating times, and increase the likelihood of the calf being female.

You can read more about connected cows here

Lettuce Farming in Japan

The lifestyle of lettuce used to be a modest and simple affair. That was until a partnership between Microsoft and Fujitsu in Japan helped to pave the way to a more futuristic agricultural industry. These days, lettuces can enjoy a luxury lifestyle and growth environment that caters to their every whim, resulting in some pretty special salad.

Fujitsu’s lettuce currently grows hydroponically in what was previously a clean room for semi-conductor chips. Each lettuce is monitored with an array of sensors that check and then optimize the environment. For example, if the soil is too dry a sensor will detect this and a sprinkler will activate to water the plant.

A clean room may not be the environment you would imagine for the best lettuce, but the nature of the room means that pests are already kept at bay, and workers have complete control over the exact nutrients each lettuce consumes during its growth. Fujitsu have used data and Power BI to develop a specific lettuce which is low in potassium. This lettuce is then shipped to hospitals as it can be consumed by patients with kidney disease or failure; patients who would otherwise have to avoid this healthy vegetable.

Watch the case study video

Being able to optimize farming techniques in new and innovative ways will result in increased food production for our crowded planet, and IoT is leading the way to a better-fed future.


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