The world consumes nearly 3 trillion pounds of meat, fish, fruits and vegetables combined each year, according to figures from the FAO and IFPRI. In 2030, this number will increase to 4 trillion pounds. An ever-increasing population growth just means higher consumption – and technology might be the answer to meet this future demand.
Historically, agriculture and farming are sectors that happily embrace every technological advance that enhances production and reduces cost – something machine-to-machine (M2M) is very good for. M2M technology is a tool of proven effectiveness when applied to food production.
When it comes to agriculture, farmers face a series of challenges that hinder the production of food, from the lack of manpower, to inefficient technology, to the lack of information on weather, fertilizers, and humidity conditions.
These problems are easily resolved with the implementation of M2M technology; transforming a farm into a smart farm.
The solution that most directly involves food production is crop and greenhouse monitoring solutions. This technology consists of a wide range of connected sensors that measure different data such as wind speed, temperature, pressure, humidity etc. It then presents the information to the farmer in an understandable way that allows him to make important decisions based on this data.
Crop solutions, such as the one presented by Telefónica’s ally Telit, allow farmers to maintain crop temperatures by remotely covering or uncovering their crops and clear vinyl greenhouses at night or during cold weather. Before this solution farmers would have to cover the crops manually, leading to a big output of labour and time.
Machine to machine can also be used to control automatic irrigation based on the conditions of the soil. This managed connectivity solution alerts the farmer when an irrigation pivot is malfunctioning, saving enormous amounts of power and time spent checking the pivots periodically, hence improving profitability. M2M also monitors other data of the soil, such as ammonia, fertilizer and pesticide levels.
Farmers can also benefit from solutions of proven efficiency in other industries, like specialised fleet management solutions that allow tracking of the vehicles used in planting and harvesting, monitoring of fuel consumption and providing real time data of the location of every truck, tractor and machine in the farmer’s fleet.
Agriculture is a great reflection on how M2M acts as an enabler in any field it is applied to. Again, controlled automation is key.