IoT-enabled Precision Agriculture Comes of Age

IoT is no longer hype

IOT-agThe numbers speak for themselves. There are already more communicative machines connected to the internet than people and the trend is expected to grow exponentially. According to a recent Verizon report[1], the installed base of IoT endpoints will grow from 9.7 billion in 2014 to more than 25.6 billion in 2019, hitting 30 billion in 2020. The sensors are becoming more sophisticated and less expensive; wireless carriers are furiously jockeying to provide coverage and new IoT-dedicated networks are emerging[2]; predictive analytics are being applied to make the big data actionable. The market research firm IDC projects that the financial value of IoT products will grow from $655 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020, citing a “tidal shift” over the last year from planning to execution of IoT projects.[3]

In short, the IoT debate is now moving from “is it going to happen” to “what are the best use cases”.

The agriculture IoT use caseIOT-growth

So here’s something that surprised me: agriculture is one of the areas where IoT is being embraced with a vengeance.
Precision Agriculture or Smart Farming has become possible by integrating sophisticated wired and wireless sensors across multiple systems (GIS, weather, water meters, soil monitors, etc.) and across multiple plots ¾ linking the variables to support optimized farming management. According to a recent call for large IoT pilots from Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, the introduction of the IoT scenario into agriculture allows “monitoring and control of plant and animal products during the whole life cycle from farm to fork”.[4]

The precision agriculture value propositions include:[1]

  • For growers: Granular, site-specific data promotes optimal growing conditions on a plot-by-plot basis, boosting yields, improving quality and cutting costs.
  • For consumers: Provides traceability data for growing numbers of consumers who want to know where their food is coming from and under what conditions it was grown.
  • For regulators: More accurate reporting of increasingly regulated issues such as water usage.

According to Accenture, the total market size for digital precision agriculture services (let alone the products themselves) is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.2% between 2014 and 2020, to reach $4.55 billion.[5]

Big players are sitting up and taking notice

As you can see above, some of the world’s largest corporations and organizations (the European Union, Accenture, Verizon) are involved in precision agriculture. A recent example of how other major players – including the sensor manufacturers – are eyeing the precision agriculture opportunity is Bosch’s and Flextronic’s recent participation in CropX’s $10 million Series A round[6].

CropX has developed a sensitive, cost-effective, easily installed soil sensor, based on which farmers receive valuable usage data and insights via a cloud-based SaaS platform. Robert Bosch Venture Capital, the corporate venture company of the Bosch Group, invested in CropX due to “its breakthrough do-it-yourself soil sensor technology, scalable IoT platform, powerful analytics and low-barrier, SaaS business model.”

As a long-standing supplier of cutting-edge, IoT-enabled water meters to the agricultural sector, Arad is proud to be part of the precision agriculture IoT scenario.

References

[1] State of the Market: Internet of Things 2016, Verizon Report
[2] Ira Brodsky, Why the Internet of Things needs another 10 years, Computerworld, January 2016
[3] Matt Hamblen, IoT tech goes from planning stage to execution, Computerworld, April 6, 2016
[4] Horizon 2020, The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Call for Large IoT Pilots (closed April 12, 2016), Pilot 2: Smart Farming and Food Security
[5] AccentureDigital, Digital Agriculture: Improving Profitability, p.3
[6] Top Sensor Manufacturers Make Strategic Investment in CropX, April 12, 2016


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